The Israeli army has declared that Razan al-Najjar, the 21-year-old female medic shot to death June 1 on the Gazan border, “is not the angel of mercy that Hamas propaganda attempts to portray.” Where did the army get this idea? From a Palestinian video clip that shows Najjar tossing a smoke grenade or tear gas canister — no doubt fired at the crowds by the army — about 20 yards into an open Gaza field, with nobody in range. In fact, with nobody in sight. Some violent enemy she was.
Then the army doctored a videotaped statement of Najjar’s so that it appears she’s saying, “I act as a human shield” — the term is commonly understood to mean a human shield for terrorists — when her complete, unedited sentence was, “I’m acting as a human rescue shield to protect the injured inside the armistice line.” Bit of a difference there, between a human shield for terrorists and a human shield for the injured.
First the Israel Defense Forces kills a medic — for the second time during these protests, during which it has shot and wounded many of them — and then it slanders her in death. This is how Israel is fighting the “information war.” This same combination of gross overkill and mendacity has characterized the entirety of Israel’s onslaught at the Gazan border since the “March of Return” protests began March 30.
The hasbara line is that this is purely a Hamas production: Hamas is “pushing” Gazan civilians to the front to risk their lives against IDF sharpshooters, who are only firing in defense of Israel’s borders.
How exactly is Hamas “pushing” these thousands of protesters? By threatening to punish them, to kill them? They’re putting themselves in mortal danger simply by showing up, certainly by surging toward the border fence — what more can Hamas threaten them with if they play it safe?
And do these people look like they’re being pushed? Do they look like they’re shouting, crying, chanting, burning tires, throwing Molotov cocktails, firing slingshots and tearing at the fence against their will? Do they appear to lack enthusiasm for what they’re doing, like they’re only there for lack of choice?
The hasbaratists seem to have gotten confused about their message, because at the same time that the government, army and most of the media are saying Hamas is “pushing” these people to riot, they’re also quick to announce that many if not most of the dead are Hamas members themselves. The point is to show that this isn’t a popular protest that reflects the Gazan people’s rage at Israel — it’s a calculated act by Hamas to try to kill Jews and destroy the Jewish state.
So which is it? Are most of the protesters really Hamasniks, as seen by the numbers of them getting killed? Or are they really civilians whom Hamas is cynically “pushing” into the fray, because it’s impossible that ordinary Gazans might be enraged at Israel, which after all has done them no wrong? There’s a contradiction here, which tends to happen when you’re making up line after line of nonsense. Like the idea that any Gazan who may damage the border fence or, God forbid, break through it into Israeli territory must be shot because if he gets through, he’s liable to kill or kidnap soldiers, or race to the moshavim and towns near the border and slaughter the residents.
In fact, numerous Gazans have gotten through the fence into Israel since the protests began, and they’ve done zero harm to Israeli life or property. They’re either shot at or arrested, or they go back inside the fence on their own. “There have been multiple cases of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip entering Israel with weapons with the goal of being arrested and sent to prison, seeing incarceration in Israel as preferable to life in the coastal enclave. … Such infiltrations are a relative routine occurrence, especially as of late,” wrote Judah Ari Gross in The Times of Israel on April 24.
Beyond Israel’s insistence that any protester making for the fence is fair game for the sharpshooters because he’s liable to get out and kill Israelis, there’s the conjured nightmare of masses of Gazans swarming through a breach in the fence and threatening to overrun the country. After the protests at the border began, The Times of Israel’s David Horovitz asked retired IDF Major General Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser and true blue blood of Israel’s military-intelligence establishment, what the army would do “if, say, 300,000 people … march on the fence?”
Eiland replied: “I don’t have an answer if 300,000 people do try to trample the fence and get into Israel. With small numbers, say a few thousand, you can catch them, hold them, feed them, give them flowers and send them home.”
A few thousand Gazans streaming through the border into Israel is no problem for the Israeli army? Israel is telling the world that even one is a potential mass murderer, which is why he has to be shot.
And what about the Israeli claim that the soldiers are defending their own and their comrades’ lives, that they’re shooting at people armed with lethal weapons like slingshots, Molotov cocktails and sometimes even guns?
In the Wikipedia entry for “2018 Gaza border protests,” Israeli casualties are listed at “1 slightly wounded.” Gazan casualties are listed at “123 dead and 14,000 wounded (as of June 5).”
Last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told British Prime Minister Theresa May: “As far as Gaza is concerned, I think the problems are rooted in the fundamental goal of Hamas to destroy Israel. We’re not witnessing peaceful protests. In addition to burning our fields, these people are being paid for and pushed by Hamas to break into Israel’s defenses, kill as many Israelis as they can, right next to our border and kidnap our soldiers.”
The kill ratio: 123 to 0. The injury ratio: 14,000 to 1. There’s Israeli propaganda, and then there’s reality. In the “clashes’ at the Gazan border, the two are 180 degrees apart. All that’s left for us is to choose which one to believe.
Larry Derfner, a journalist in Israel, is the author of the 2017 memoir “No Country for Jewish Liberals.”