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Emanuel Miller @emanumiller
, 18 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
Thread: Observations on the MarchForReturn protest in #Gaza on Friday.
#Israel was aware that thousands were likely to attend the protest. The #IDF warned people to not breach the fence, and brought many soldiers to cover the border in case hundreds of people broke through.
The event cannot be simply characterised as either a "riot" or "peaceful protest". Apparently instigated by civilians, it was manipulated by #Hamas to enter the no-go zone adjacent to the border with Israel. Attending were peaceful civilians, violent rioters, and armed terrorists
The #Gaza/Israel border is not a quiet one. Over the last weeks numerous infiltrations have occured, and IEDs laid by #Hamas. Previously there have been rockets, sniping and RPG attacks there. Concerns over the use of mass riots as cover to penetrate #Israel are justified.
Around 20,000 people attended. 16 people died. Approximately 750 people were wounded from gunfire according to the #Hamas count, which is unverified and likely to have been inflated. That's a 3.75% injury rate. 0.008% of those attending were killed.
10 of the 16 killed on Friday were known terrorists, including Hamas commanders and Nuchba special forces. 8 were Hamas members, two of whom were shooting on Israel. That do many terrorists were killed suggest precision. That so many were injured suggests more care needed overall
The pictures in the first tweet show one of those killed. Some people describe him as a talented sand sculptor. Others call him a Hamas terrorist. He was both. It's important to recognise these people's humanity AND their role in the violence. One does not negate the other.
Now here's the trickier part: should membership of a terror organisation be an automatic death warrant? There are thousands of #Hamas members. Does #Israel have the green light to kill them at any time?
According to international law, an illegal combatant (one who does not wear a uniform, bear ranks, an ID card, carry their weapon openly) disguising themselves along civilians forgoes certain rights.
While the Geneva Conventions accord unlawful #combatants certain protections, they don't recognize any lawful status for combatants in conflicts not involving two or more nation states. Given that #Palestine isn't recognised as a UN member state, their legal position is unclear.
Legalities aside, what's moral and correct? It's unclear what the 16 dead Palestinians were doing at the time of their deaths. If any were involved in acts of violence, then proportional force was legitimate. Unfortunately we don't have unedited videos showing the context.
From a moral position, the most relevant criteria is an individual's actions. If someone isn't posing an immediate threat, soldiers should not fire. But an element of deterrence is required.
On the other hand, confronted with the prospect of hundreds of people rushing the border, amongst them perhaps dozens of armed terrorists wielding bombs, grenades and guns, #Israel has the right to protect its citizens.
Ultimately, #Hamas bears responsibility for encouraging citizens to sabotage a border and invade a neighbouring state. Just yesterday the Lebanese army stopped protestors entering #Israel, kept the peace, and nobody died. That said, the IDF is not immune from criticism.
Hamas acted cynically, hoping to draw the IDF in a firefight. Israel has the right to defend its border with arms. But that is not the end of the discussion about whether it ought to do so, and if so, how.
From Israel's perspective, Hamas's tactics are a throwback to two distinct eras: 1. The Fedayeen attacks of the 1950s, in which tens of thousands of individuals infiltrated Israel's borders. 2. The late 80s/early 90s, when rioters embedded themselves in peaceful protests.
Israel should invest time and thought in creating specialised riot dispersal equipment. Soldiers have limited tools at their disposal. Bullets are designed to kill, not wound. Savvy demonstrators know how to beat tear gas. A serious, effective but non-lethal deterrent is needed.
Without such tools, people end up dying and Hamas is handed a media victory. Sixteen people died on Friday, which is deeply regrettable - even if some of those were terrorists. The IDF should adapt accordingly.
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