The killing fields of Gaza

By Sajjad Malik
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 14, 2018
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It is all too familiar: Palestinians protestors hurling stones and Molotov cocktail bottles at Israeli soldiers who in retaliation fire live bullets, killing several civilians.

Anger and anguish mount and condemnations follow but nothing else happens, except that another distraught mother is left to cry for the rest of life at the untimely death of her young lad.

This was the scene at the Gaza-Israel border more than a week ago. At least 16 Palestinians were killed and more than 1,400 injured as part of the annual Land Day protests, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, which said that at least 773 Palestinians were wounded due to the firing of live ammunition.

Most of the victims were between 17 and 35 years old. This is the generation born and brought up in the middle of wars and tension. There might be hardly any family in Gaza and the rest of Palestine who have not suffered directly or indirectly due to violence and bloodshed.

The Palestinians live in an environment of death and face it as a way of life. It is also a way of showing defiance and justifying their struggle. But it should be only cold comfort to an aging mother and father who see the future in children, especially sons in these more traditional societies.

The unending conflict has a huge impact on the ordinary lives in the two communities. But being oppressed and dispossessed of their land, the Palestinians are continuously on the receiving end. Their crime is based on a desire for social justice, economic empowerment and political rights.

One of their demands is to let the people driven out of their homes in 1948 to come back. Israel’s birth resulted in the eviction of thousands of people. It is called Nakba or Catastrophe and the Palestinians commemorate it with annual protests.

According to Israeli estimates more than 30,000 people had gathered along the 65 km frontier as part of the six-week protest which is scheduled to end on May 15. On that fatal day, reportedly some of protestors came close to the fenced border. Israeli soldiers first fired warning shots and later directly targeted the civilians.

The right of return of refugees is the stickiest point along with the status of East Jerusalem between the two communities. The Jewish state fears that it would be numerically outclassed if all the refugees were allowed to return to their native places which are under occupation and part of the state of Israel.

The only hope for these refugees is resettlement in the future state of Palestine but it is nowhere in sight. The peace process has been frozen since 2014 and any chance of revival in the near future is not possible. Rather, the situation is expected to get tense and even bloodier in the coming months as the U.S. has announced it will shift its embassy to Jerusalem this year.

Israel insists that the Hamas activists were leading the protest and there is an element of truth as the group claimed that it lost about five members in the latest violence. But even the presence of Hamas supporters cannot provide justification for killing people with impunity when they had not crossed the fence.

The lives of those living in embattled Gaza can be compared with ghettos, of which many Jews should have been well aware of. The Jews had been among the most prosecuted people in the world. One wonders that such people who suffered the worst at hands of different rulers and governments would allow their government to commit similar tyranny to another group of people.

Bullets and merciless killings have failed to bring security to Israel. The shifting of the embassy to Jerusalem will not add anything to the goal of peace. The issue is not just the callous treatment of Palestinians. The state of Israel should decide if it wants normal relations with other communities and countries for long term stability or continue to play a pawn of powers for regional great games.

Israel is an undeclared nuclear power with the potential to defeat any military threat from its regional rivals. It also has the backing of the U.S. and other countries but its citizens might not have lived even a single day of peace in the last seven decades. Israeli leaders should sit and think if they are really winning?

Sajjad Malik is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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