As Palestinian protests in Gaza build toward the 70th ‘Nakba Day’ commemoration tomorrow, at least forty-three people have been killed as Israeli armed forces fired upon protesters, with reports of up to two thousand injured. Amnesty International initially reported thirty-eight confirmed dead:
Human Rights Watch (HRW) director Omar Shakir named a higher death toll (later confirmed by BBC News), adding that at least a thousand people had been injured directly by live ammunition – and sharing grim detail about the nature of the injuries provided by Doctors without Borders/Médicins sans Frontières:
HRW issued a strongly-worded statement on the killings:
The Labour Party’s official statement, conveyed by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, was equally direct:
By contrast, the UK government’s statement was described as “almost a parody of bland indifference” by author and commentator Jamie Stern-Weiner. It read:
We are concerned by the reports of violence and loss of life in Gaza. We urge calm and restraint to avoid actions destructive to peace efforts.
Labour MPs have condemned the violence in the strongest terms – and challenged Theresa May’s failure to do so:
The reason for May’s prevarication may not be too hard to identify, as Stern-Weiner observed:
The response of some media to the killings has also attracted condemnation. The New York Times tweeted an update noting only that ‘dozens of Palestinians have died in protests‘ – and was challenged by singer Lily Allen:
Award-winning producer Judd Apatow was more blunt:
The New York Times was not finished, though. It was condemned by US Jewish group If not now for a subsequent failure to properly describe events:
The horrific reality on the ground was confirmed by PBS’ correspondent Jane Ferguson:
Others, such as Agence France Presse’s Andrew Beatty and Patrick Galey, commented on the contrast between the state proceedings in Jerusalem, as the US prepared to open its controversial embassy in the city, and the appalling scenes at the border:
The BBC followed the New York Times method. Its news website avoided mention of cause, noting only that Palestinians had died – and describing the asymmetric use of powerful live munitions against protesters either unarmed or bearing catapults as ‘clashes’:
Shamefully, it appears to have been left to the ‘alternative’ news sites – at least in the US and UK – to give a more frank description of today’s events in Palestine:
Terrifyingly, Nakba Day itself is not until tomorrow, so even worse may be still to come.
The world cannot turn a blind eye to, water down or sanitise the reality of what is happening in Gaza if there is to be any hope of a just and peaceful resolution.
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