Opinion

An Appeal to Sanity – What’s Really Happening on the Gaza Border?

Observing the deteriorating madness on the Israeli-Gaza border has been dumbfounding. For the past month, tens of thousands of Palestinians have participated in near non-stop violent riots along the security fence protecting Israeli territory. Parallel to the on-the-ground efforts to attack Israel, the propaganda campaign to demonize the Jewish State on the international stage has also been ongoing.

The latest media attack on Israel came from the London-based human rights group Amnesty International. In a press release dated 27 April, Amnesty called on the world to initiate an arms embargo on Israel to protest the Israeli military’s use of deadly weapons on demonstrators. “For four weeks the world has watched in horror as Israeli snipers and other soldiers, in full-protective gear and behind the fence, have attacked Palestinian protesters with live ammunition and tear gas. Despite wide international condemnation, the Israeli army has not reversed its illegal orders to shoot unarmed protesters,” Friday’s PR statement read.

Amnesty’s lambast of Israel followed the typical pattern of such hit pieces; meticulously reframing events to portray aggressors as victims, peppering the narrative with outright lies, and ignoring the blatantly obvious facts that contradict their assertions.

A Shameless Distortion

From a purely objective position, any observer has to admit that no one can stage an effective media smear campaign like the unholy alliance of Palestinian terror groups and leftist activism. Clearly, a lot of thought and planning went into this. In fact, the purpose of these month-long riots orchestrated by Gaza’s Hamas terror-overlords was to launch the accompanying vitriol aimed at Israel and solicit the very condemnations we are witnessing now.

For the conscientious observer to see through this facade of shameless lies, all that’s asked is a bit of honest scrutiny.

The current narrative trend describing the events in Gaza began with the title Hamas gave to its campaign. The operation was dubbed the “March of Return”—referring to the aspiration of many Palestinians to return to the lands that were abandoned during Israel’s independence war 70 years ago. This “right of return” is demanded for both the remaining refugees from that episode of world history and their descendants, numbering today in the millions. By referring to the operation in this way, Hamas was able to present their activities as an activist campaign of victims, as opposed to the latest step in their self-declared mission to destroy the State of Israel.

March of Return. (Credit: Facebook/Global Revolution)

Considering the egregious violence that has been committed by protesters over the past month, it is simply bizarre that Amnesty International or any other observer could refer to the participants as “peaceful activists.” Since the beginning of the March of Return, protesters have been persistently attempting to wreak the most havoc possible on Israel’s security infrastructure and attack its soldiers and civilian centers.

Peace Activists and Their Violent Repertoire

The effort to damage the security fence and other barriers that separate Israel from Gaza has been persistent. Rioters have been consistently attacking these targets by physically pulling down fortifications and even trying to penetrate it with explosives.

Massive pyres of burning tires have also been a favorite. In addition to the obvious risk of setting off uncontrollable infernos, the thick plumes of smoke provide the cover rioters need to rush the border fence and carry out their acts of destruction. Very often these attempts at breaching the border are highly organized, consisting of separate groups of rioters carrying portable fortifications and then advancing simultaneously toward the fence. This particular maneuver has been the staple of rioters since the early stages of the March of Return.

Of course, protesters don’t have to actually penetrate the security fence in order to launch attacks on soldiers and civilian communities, many of which are located just a stone’s throw from the border. In fact, they’ve been quite fantastic at coming up with creative solutions. Participants in the March have been sending off Molotov cocktails and other IED’s by sailing them over the border on kites.

Of course, the above examples don’t nearly do justice in portraying a synopsis of what is still transpiring on the Gaza border. A brief perusal of posts from the last month on the official IDF Twitter page will show any viewer just how persistent the violence has been.

With persistent attempts to penetrate a national border with violence, attacks on soldiers and civilian centers, and deploying IED’s, the scene at the March of Return looks a lot more like a war zone than an activist gathering site.

Of course, the article in which Amnesty vilifies Israel and calls for disarming the country shamelessly ignores all of this.

Such glaring and deliberate omissions of facts not only undermine this narrative but also cast doubt on the very legitimacy of Amnesty and other organizations trying to sell this twisted story.

A Note on War Correspondence

A point that has been frequently brought up during the public discourse on the March of Return, has been the dozens of journalist casualties inflicted by the IDF. To date, over sixty journalists have reportedly been injured as a result of actions by the Israeli military.

Of course, these figures are being touted as proof of Israel’s malicious nature, and have bred accusations that the IDF is deliberately targeting media personnel.

Unfortunately, critics of Israel’s attempts to defend itself are often completely detached from reality.

As explained above, the scene at the Gaza security fence right now is essentially that of a combat zone and has been for the past month. The IDF’s personnel have been forced to deal with this series of attacks in the most efficient way possible. Complicating their efforts to not get firebombed, hit by glass slingshot projectiles, and keep hoards of rioters at bay, soldiers also have to contend with the journalists interspersed amongst the bedlam. Is it so surprising that journalists get shot accidentally or, even more commonly, injured by riot-dispersing weapons such as smoke grenades when they are constantly operating in such close proximity to violent rioters?

(Credit: Facebook/Mohammed Zaanoun)

Journalists do not need to be physically embedded with rioters to be confused for a participant in the violence. There are plenty of activities a journalist can be engaged in that can strongly indicate a threat, such as running alongside a group of rioters rushing the fence, or pointing a shoulder camera in the direction of troops. This was likely the case with the death of Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja who the IDF reported was shot while operating an aerial drone near military positions.

Zooming out, let’s try to put this all into perspective:

Media correspondence from a scene of violence is a dangerous job. According to the meticulous research of the great people at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 310 journalists have been killed—meaning, this figure excludes all non-fatal injuries—over the past 25 years alone while reporting in areas of conflict. Almost all of these deaths (296) were due to confirmed crossfire incidents. If we were to go back a few years, we could include numbers from some of the more bloody conflicts of the 20th century such as Vietnam, in which some sixty reporters were killed, along with an unknown number of support staff.

What all of this demonstrates: reporting from conflict areas can get someone killed. And it doesn’t need to be the result of a malicious act of one of the combatants wanting to pick-off a journalist.

Far from implicating Israel, the number of journalists injured so far actually underscores just how insidious the March organizers are. These instigators created a venue of extreme violence where people can easily get wounded and killed, and then urged thousands of civilians, including hundreds of women and children, to amass there and contribute to the spectacle. Even the overtly anti-Israel International Criminal Court blasted Hamas for using the “civilian presence for the purpose of shielding military activities” throughout the current violence.

Same Madness, Different Day

In the end, the month-long violence along the border is just the latest episode laying bare the unique wickedness of Gaza’s leadership. The militant dictators in Gaza, as well as segments of the population that support them, are willing to use their own people as pawns in perpetuating a war with Israel.

The conundrum facing Israel, and indeed the world, regarding Gaza, has long been the same: How to deal with a radical terror state holding its population hostage to their genocidal agenda, while at the same time ensuring the safety of your own people?

Every day, Israel must come up with new answers to this question.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Samuel Siskind

Samuel Siskind studied intelligence research at the American Military University in West Virginia. He served as a squad commander in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Corp of Combat Engineers, in the Corps' ground battalions and later in its Intelligence Wing at regional and divisional stations. For the past five years, Samuel has worked as a consultant and researcher on physical and information security issues for private and governmental institutions, in the US, Africa, India, and Israel. He currently lives in Jerusalem.

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