Tens of thousands of Palestinians demonstrated inside Gaza yesterday demanding the right to return to their homes. It is reported that 15 Palestinians have been killed on one day by Israeli snipers and even tanks shooting into Gaza territory. Our Gaza correspondent has written to Canada’s representative in Ramallah, inviting him to come to see who is being violent. Read his urgent plea.
Huge demonstrations have begun all across Palestinian territory this weekend, marking “Land Day”, and are scheduled to continue for another 6 weeks, until the commemoration of “Nakba Day” on May 15. The Palestinians say their demonstrations are entirely peaceful and underscore the Palestinian demand for the “right of return” to their homes and villages which are in today’s Israel.
The right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel is one of the most contentious issues in the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Mobilization has been particularly intense inside Gaza. In anticipation of the demonstrations Israel announced that it had deployed more than 100 snipers on Gaza’s perimeter.
The Palestinians collected in six large tents inside Gaza and then began marching waving flags and banners towards the “buffer zone” which Israel has defined as a “no go zone” for Palestinians on the Gaza side of the huge fence which keeps them imprisoned. Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are attempting to quell the demonstrations using live fire and tear gas. There are reports of IDF sending drones into Gaza to drop tear gas.
Israeli Defense forces portrayed the marchers as “rioters” and “terrorists”.
Canadian news media, which reports from Israel (and under Israeli military censorship) has been less than helpful in understanding the issue or what is going on. “Six Palestinians killed, hundreds hurt as Gaza border protest turns violent”, reported the CBC in an article which left it unclear who was protesting peacefully, and who was using violence.
CTIP’s Gaza correspondent Ahmed Alnaouq sent today an urgent letter to Scott Proudfoot, Canada’s representative in Ramallah asking him to come and see for himself who is being violent. He sent us a copy of his emailed letter
Mr. Scott Proudfoot,
Representative of Canada to the Palestinian Authority
Ramallah, Occupied Palestinian Territory
Dear Mr. Proudfoot,
This is Ahmed Alnaouq, a freelance journalist and project manager of We Are Not Numbers. I am writing this to you as an ordinary Palestinian refugee youth who is furious about the current situation at the border area. Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees have begun to demonstrate at the border area of the Gaza Strip, attempting to show PEACEFULLY, our desire to return to our homes and villages from which our parents were expelled in 1948.
While the demonstrations pose no physical threat to Israel or Israelis, the Israeli occupation forces has posted a thousand sharpshooters and snipers, who have already killed 13 Palestinians and injured around 1500 others (until Friday 6:40 pm. As I write you this letter, the number of Palestinian civilian casualties is rising!)
We urge you to come to Gaza immediately to see for yourself who is being violent and who is being peaceful.
I didn’t participate in the protests today, because I had to stay with my sick mother. But my brother and father did go though, and they assured me the March was peaceful and civilian.
We will be happy to take you to the sites of the demonstrations, so you can be assured of the facts on the ground. We count on Canada’s reputation as a country which believes in human rights and democracy to investigate.
NOTE: As representative to the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Proudfoot is responsible for Canadian policies and programs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. CTIP has written separately to Mr. Proudfoot (email@example.com) encouraging him to follow up on Mr. Alnaouq’s plea.
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My heart bleeds. . .
It must have been our friend Derek Stoffel who wrote the confused, misleading headline.
Vicki Perkins Agree with you And I would suggest Canada to take all palestinians into Canada so Pals can live happy ever after. And leave Israelis in peace.
I agree that Canada should offer to accept Palestinian refugees, (perhaps not all 5 million, but a significant number). Canada certainly shares some of the blame for the creation of the Israel/Palestine problem in the first place. We should be prepared to open our doors (and our hearts) to Palestinian refugees who would like to move here.
However, that would not in any diminish their right to return to Israel if they prefer to do that. Most Palestinians would choose what ever option was best for them and their family. As would you, I assume.
Peter, you wrote about, “the Palestinian demand for the “right of return” to their homes and villages which are in today’s Israel.” Some of those homes are not in Israel proper but in the Occupied West Bank. Other Palestinian homes have been destroyed and replaced by homes for Jews who have been convinced to move to Palestine. Palestinians in Gaza are not generally allowed to go to the occupied territories either.
Pretending to “give” Gaza to the Palestinians, Israel actually turned it into a prison and claims the right to decide who can leave and under what conditions.
Protesting the imprisonment of nearly 2 million people, the vast majority of whom have never committed a violent act or any other crime, is certainly the right of those who are imprisoned. Canada should send international observers to these protests.
In addition to writing to our representative in Ramallah, we should be writing to our MP, our Foreign Minister, and our Prime Minister. International observation is a reasonable request.
Perhaps you could post e-mail addresses for the relevant people.
Yes, a letter writing campaign right now seems very appropriate.
David Parnas Good Idea
Here is the relevant information: Prime Minister Trudeau : email@example.com, Global Affairs minister: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Another person I didn’t mention but should have is our ambassador in Israel Deborah Lyons. Her email is Deborah.Lyons@international.gc.ca. She could be asked to go see what is happening on the Israeli side.
Most parliamentarians have an email address constructed like this: email@example.com
For a complete list you can go to: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members
Peter, Thank you, great idea.
Unfortunately Canada is turning blind eye on Israeli’s crimes when it comes to Palestinians rights of living in the same way as we have done to indigenous people here in Canada. As compared to the previous government, Mr. Trudeau has at least taken a positive step to realize the prejudice and tried to recompense. For Palestinians, Canada does not even acknowledge the violence from the Israeli occupying forces in Palestine. Our government blind support of Israel is not only discriminating, it is unethical, uncivilized and dishonorable.
Silence is obedience to Zionism –Zionism is a life line for Israel to massacres their own people in Palestine.
Hey Muazzam, I think the comparison with Aboriginal Canadians has a lot of merit (although there are a lot of important differences, as well). I am very happy that Canada has begun the process of “Truth and Reconciliation” with our indigenous peoples. I wish that Israel would do the same.
The first step – admitting the “truth” is the most important and the most difficult, whether its recognizing the horrors of the residential schools, or the horrors of the Nakba. Once the truth is recognized, the door opens to deciding how to go forward.
In this civilized and moderate world where the majority of world leaders express biased policies and where the war becomes business, resistance to the occupation is one of the apparatus that one can play with. Other than the solidarity and cohesion from good hearted people across the globe, nothing can be established until people continue to fight back and confront the brutality and injustice shown by the Israelis towards Palestinians. Unfortunately, the international laws have no meanings anymore – UN has miserably failed to bring Israel to its accounts, and the world including the Arab leaders act like dummies. They play altogether a part of a unified forces of occupation inspiring Zionists for bringing atrocities, injustice to Palestinians. This includes daily demolition of their homes, nightly invasions and killing children and family members at point blank. This happens only in Israel – claiming to be civilized, democratic country in Middle East. It’s time for Canada to wake up and Mr. Trudeau take this great opportunity to bring its world-class recognition of peacekeeping role in the Middle East by standing up against this outrage and carry the mission of tranquility and peacefulness to the people of Palestine.
Hamas says that at least 5 of those killed were members of Hamas.
Hey Fatima, Right, but I don’t understand what you are getting at.
Hamas is the government of Gaza. It is the ruling political party and has thousands of members. Hamas had called for this protest. Are you surprised that some members of Hamas were at the demonstration? Are you surprised that Israeli snipers would try to kill any Hamas members they identified?
The point is that more than 2/3 of those killed were not Hamas members and there is no evidence that any of those killed were guilty of a violent crime or were a threat to anyone. Israel’s own words make it clear that these were not defensive actions, they were extrajudicial executions of people who had not been found guilty of any crime. Some would dare to call that what it is, murder.
I was very pleased that Mr. Proudfoot responded to my email saying that he is aware and concerned and that Canada is following up on the matter. Also I am VERY HAPPY that he offered to meet with me and WANN next time he is in Gaza.
While it was impossible to get any criticism of Israel under Harper, there are rare assertions of “speaking directly to Israeli and Palestinian friends” under Trudeau who also has allowed his diplomats to comment on social media. Still there is mainly silence from the Govt of Canada on Israel Palestine and probably only a carefully balanced statement expressing regret for deaths and calling for restraint by the parties can be expected – if anything at all.
Scott Proudfoot our represenative in Ramallah did issue such a tweet but added the point that political dialogue was needed by the parties to resolve the situation. His tweet was met by a number of pro Palestinian rights criticisms that it was much too anodyne to reflect the seriousness of the situation and violence along the Gaza Israel fence. Still such efforts from our diplomats should be welcome and maybe a similar tweet from our ambassador inTel Aviv will come – even if she will not want to get into the problems created by her coleague the US Ambassador whose pro Israel tweets have not always been consistent with US policy and sometimes caused great upset to the PLA which then has to be rectified by the US rep in Ramallah.
A greater criticism might be that the Canadian Govt is no longer taking an open and leading role in formulating a vision and path to some kind of a solution: likely two states of Israel and Palestine standing together with their capitals in West and East Jerusalem respectively and with a shared international regime over the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to render Jerusalem a city of peace, security tolerance, human rights, democracy.
These Israel Palestine battles are being increasingly fought on social media and the comments sections of major newspapers like the Times Of Israel and the Jerusalem Post. Recently, CIJA has initiated a campaign to ban Hamas from Twitter. Jewish Voice for Peace JVP has revealed an agreement between Facebook and Israel to withdraw pro Palestinian posts, up to 12000 a year, particularly on the basis that they might incite hate while disregarding all the extreme pro Israel posts that may have the same effect. It would appear that such efforts are not possible or self defeating in this age of the internet. Indeed, a maximum of debate and opinion on the Israel Palestine situation is probably helpful in the absence of productive contacts between govts.
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