The reports about what is happening at the Palestinian “Right of Return” march in Gaza could not be more contradictory. UN rapporteur Michael Lynk (left) says Israeli soldiers are firing on peaceful demonstrators. Mike Fegelman, (right) CEO of “Honest Reporting Canada” says it is Hamas who is committing war crimes by using a riot to hide armed terrorists. Who to believe? CTIP has just returned from a week in Gaza. Here is what we saw at the 4th weekly demonstration which was held on April 27….
UN Rapporteur Michael Lynk was recently interviewed by CTV about the recent demonstrations in Gaza, called the Great March of Return, in which dozens of Palestinians have been killed and thousands more wounded. Lynk claimed that the protest was largely peaceful and that the Israeli use of deadly weapons was a potential war crime.
In this he was supported by a recent statement by Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, both of whom said Israel was unlawfully killing and maiming protesters. Several other UN officials joined to make a joint press statement which lays out in more detail why international human rights experts consider the IDF sniper firing a potential violation of international law. And the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has warned Israel that its actions could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute).
Palestinians claim that their “Great March of Return” which has been taking place every Friday for the last several weeks is a peaceful way for Palestinian civil society to bring back to international attention their right to return to the homes and villages from which they were expelled by Israel 70 years ago.
Lynk was immediately attacked by “Honest Reporting Canada”, a pro-Israel group. A statement protested: “CTV Gives Platform to UN Palestine Rapporteur Michael Lynk to Spread Disinformation“. Honest Reporting repeated Israel’s claim that what is happening in Gaza is not a peaceful protest but something much more sinister – a dangerous “riot” orchestrated by armed Hamas terrorists which threatens Israelis and the integrity of Israel itself.
So – who’s telling the truth?
This UN map shows the 5 demonstration camps and the number of deaths and hospitalizations for each. The Gaza perimeter fence (mistakenly called a “border”) keeps Palestinians trapped inside Gaza and prevents them from returning to their homes and villages now in Israel. The red line on the right shows the 300 metre wide “no go zone” inside Gaza which Israel forbids Palestinians to enter – even farmers whose land it it is. This is where the demonstrations and the deaths have taken place. As of May 1, no Israeli soldier has been killed or even injured.
Decide for yourself – Watch CTIP’s own videos
CTIP was in Gaza from April 22 to April 29. While we were there, we went to two of the five demonstration sites – Khan Younis and Gaza City itself. We also spoke to dozens of Palestinians over the one week period to get a better understanding of the objectives and functioning of the protest. We were interested to see for ourselves whether the protest could be characterized as “violent” or “peaceful”, “Hamas run”- or “civil society organized”.
Here is a playlist of 8 short videos (ranging from 30 seconds to 1 minute in length) which I shot over a 3 hour period at the Gaza demonstration on Friday, April 27th. Some of the audio is difficult to hear because there was quite a bit of wind. Apologies.
Our observations on site and our discussions with students, first aid workers, doctors and even some of the March organizers before and after the demonstration correspond overall to Lynk’s assessment. Below we review some of Honest Reporting’s comments about Lynk’s statements and compare them to our own observations.
- Honest Reporting: “Lynk claimed that most Palestinians were “unarmed”. In so doing, Lynk downplayed the danger Israel faced from the violent riots and terror attacks.”
- CTIP: We did not see any Palestinians carrying any weaponry (not even stones) but we were told that some were thrown in the direction of the Israeli soldiers. The stone throwing seemed to be nothing more than an act of defiance. None of the stones reached anywhere near the soldiers who were over a hundred metres away and protected in bunkers. The evidence seems to speak for itself: no Israelis were killed, nor have any been reported injured.
- Honest Reporting: “Lynk fundamentally ignored Hamas’ role in financing, organizing and inciting the riots. Lynk ignored Hamas’ role in dispatching and arming terrorists under the cover of protest, and sending children to the front lines, all bona fide war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Conventions.”
- CTIP: We did not see any riot, nor any “armed terrorists”. Tens of thousands of demonstrators were just there, milling around. Families went together – men women and children. Nobody was “sent” to the front lines. It was mostly young men showing their bravado. All the while, the Israeli soldiers were in plain sight. If Hamas had wanted to shoot one or more soldiers, it would not have been difficult to do so. It did not appear to be a Hamas show. There were no green Hamas flags nor yellow Fateh flags. We were told that the demonstration was coordinated by the “Higher National Committee for lifting the siege” which was composed of more than 10 civil society organizations. Political parties, including Hamas and Fateh, had been asked by the organizing committee to bring only Palestinian flags. But all Palestinian parties supported the demonstrations, and members from all parties were among the participants.
- Honest Reporting: “Lynk implied that Israel committed war crimes by intentionally firing at civilians in “violation of international law””
- CTIP – We heard Israeli sniper and automatic rifle fire. We saw one person fall directly in front of us and over a dozen people being carried by medical personnel to ambulances. Most of the injured did not appear to be very close to the perimeter fence. It certainly appeared to us that Israel was firing at civilians who posed no immediate threat to them. Our understanding is that that is a war crime.
- Honest Reporting: “Lynk defended the so-called Palestinian “right of return” which is a Palestinian term that would see the Jewish State destroyed demographically and turned into another Arab-majority state.”
- CTIP – The Right of Return not a “Palestinian term” but is based in international law – specifically UN resolution 194. Honest Reporting is correct, however, that the return of Palestinian refugees would mean that the land of Israel/Palestine would return to being an Arab-majority country as it was before the expulsion of 3/4 million non Jews in 1948.
- Honest Reporting: “As Lynk spoke throughout the interview, CTV included background footage of Palestinians protesting and rioting”.
- CTIP: That CTV footage was not from any of the demonstrations near the perimeter. It is a clip of the funeral in Khan Younis of 15-year-old Azzam Aweida who was killed by Israeli fire the day before at the demonstration. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH2xRzPxjOk). The crowd is angry, and the guns are real, but this is nowhere near the site of the March of Return demonstration and poses no direct threat to any Israeli.
CTIP’s on the spot investigation corresponds to UN Rapporteur Lynk’s comments. So far, the Canadian government has not made any criticism of Israeli actions. Perhaps they should read more of Professor Lynk’s reports and pay less attention to those of Mr. Fegelman’s organization.
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“Honest Reporting Canada” should be called Dishonest Reporting Canada or Fake News Canada since they just repeat whatever talking points the Israeli’s give them.
Jim you are right and this is exactly where the problem is. Honest journalism comes from bold minds and courageous people that many don’t want to listen to. As said by the Global Research Group “Lying” in mainstream journalism has become the “new normal”. Mainstream journalists are pressured to comply but some journalists refuse.
Peter, thank you for educating everyone with your presence in Gaza and on ground reporting. It is true that the Return of Land protest was a peaceful demonstration by the Palestinians but unjustifiable violence and aggression was used by the occupying forces that killed and injured so many people.
Your are correct, Canadian government has preferred to stay quiet and that demonstrates a great deal of harmony towards Israel’s crimes of humanity. This silence is against the true value of all Canadians that believe in justice and peace.
Thank you, Peter, for these videos that provide on the ground evidence of what is really happening. This is important, to counter the Israeli narrative that it is the Hamas inspired Palestinians who are “rioting”. Thanks to Michael Lynk for his careful, well documented report.
Thank you Peter for your report from Gaza and the Great March of Return! Here’s hoping all the combined video evidence and eye witness reports finally help to bring an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Mike Fegelman could learn a lesson from you on honest reporting.
Thanks to CTIP for this first hand reporting and analysis!
Let me say I completely agree with you and Michael Lynk on the matter of Gazan protesters. Israeli soldiers are executing protesters through a fence. It would be great if every protester were disciplined, but we have the same problem at demonstrations in Canada. Disobeying warnings to stay away from a the fence does not justify cold-blooded murder.
I do want to comment on this paragraph from your critique of Honest Reporting:
“The Right of Return is not a ‘Palestinian term’ but is based in international law – specifically UN resolution 181. Honest Reporting is correct, however, that the return of Palestinian refugees would mean that the land of Israel/Palestine would return to being an Arab-majority country as it was before the expulsion of 3/4 million non Jews in 1948.”
First, it was UN General Assembly Resolution 194, Article 11 (1948) that resolved that the refugees who wish to “live at peace with their neighbors … should be permitted” to return to their homes at the “earliest practicable date”.
Second, if you had written, “the return of THE VAST MAJORITY OF Palestinian refugees AND THEIR DESCENDENTS (descendants aren’t mentioned in resolution 194) …,” then I suppose you’d be mathematically correct, but the possibility of that ever coming to pass seems so remote, for so many reasons, that I wonder why you concede this point to Honest Reporting. The Israel lobby uses the threat of an end to a Jewish majority in Israel to raise panic about the whole matter of recognizing Palestinian refugees. Are you agreeing with them that recognizing the rights of refugees is a threat to the existence of Israel?
Hey Arthur, thank you for pointing out my slip. You are right that the relevant UN resolution was 194, not 181. I have made the correction.
As for the other point, I agree that not all Palestinian refugees will want to return. How many, will no doubt depend on their options. But recent demographic stats released to the Israeli Knesset show that there is already a majority of non-Jews inside the borders of historic Palestine, which is the area Israel currently controls. So even if only a small number of the refugees were to return, the result would be the same
Orwell would be double-plus stunned by the audacity of the folks trying to flog something called “Honest Reporting Canada” ,especially when it’s arguments overlook the intentional murders of journalists attempting to honestly report.
If there was anything even close to Honest Reporting Canada taking place here our federal government and opposition parties would be required to state why none of them are even acknowledging the killings and wounding of so many Palestinians for rightfully protesting against their continued imprisonment in Gaza.
Someone sent me this very polished video prepared by a group called “United with Israel”. It aims to prove that Hamas is the terrorist organizer of the demonstrations. The camera work is very good, has dramatic musical background and actually gives some quite good footage. I wish my own videos were of the same high quality – although I would have given quite a different voice over commentary.
They also interview some Palestinians with extreme views (people like that do exist unfortunately) although my experience was that they are in a rather small minority.
Take a look:
Imagine the following:
Palestinian army enforces a siege on 2000 000 Jewish people for 12 years. Jewish young people, who spent half of their lives under siege, go out and protest. Palestinian snipers kill more than 30 Jewish young people in 3 weeks. The Canadian government remains silent. Honest Reporting says that the Palestinian army has the right to defend itself and those Jewish young people are terrorists.
Unimaginable for a very simple reason : If a Palestinian army, Hamas, will have the upper hand, every last Jew will be massacred so we wouldn’t have to deal with a 12 years siege
Hey Pierre, I am sure you believe that Hamas would like to massacre Jews. But I would like to know why you think it. Can you share with us what you base your assertion on. That is certainly not what is written in the new Hamas covenant. Perhaps you’re referring to the one that was written 25 years ago. I certainly agree that it could be interpreted that way, and I would not blame a Jew for being wary of Hamas’ intentions based on that statement.
Peter, your eye-witness is invaluable. Thanks.
Elizabeth May notes, “Every bullet went where it was intended to go, say the commanders. This claim by the Israel Defence Forces makes it very clear… This was a systematic plan to murder unarmed civilians.” To the government, nuff said. Yet silence.
Please do not dignify the old canard of the “demographic bomb.” The reality is that between the River and the Sea, Palestinians will be a majority within a couple of years. This, and the right of return, pose no threat to Israel any more than the end of apartheid threatened South Africa. It merely threatens a racist vision of the state that depends on Jewish supremacy, one that offends many Jews.
Once again, good work!
I was delighted to learn that I’m not the only one who thought of George Orwell’s novel, 1984, when I read the name ‘Honest Reporting Canada’ and then read some of their ‘reporting’ if you can call it that…it so reminded me of the Ministry of Truth in the novel which really was the Ministry of Lies designed to terrorize the people into believing they were always under threat from ‘the other’, ‘the enemy just outside their gates’.
Thank Heavens for the UN Rapporteur and his much more balanced reports!
The Zionists and their government in Israel (and their diaspora supporters) seem to require this constant reinforcement of the notion that Israel is constantly under threat from these poor folks confined in Gaza struggling to survive, hoping to find a way to thrive.
Peter, thank you for sharing your experience and witness when in Gaza recently. Honest reporting is so badly needed in this region. It is indeed so horrible that we even consider the blatant bias and automatic accusation of the mis-named “Honest Reporting Canada”. Edward Said in his analysis of “Culture and Imperialism” called it the “power to narrate” where the greater power simply and with total disregard for facts or context interprets and colours them for their own ends without regard for logic or truth. They simply do not care with the same impunity with which they maim, kill and destroy people they do the same for facts and truth.
The “Right of Return” is also a phrase used by Israel to give Israeli citizenship to any Jew who intends to settle in Israel. The “returnee” need not actually be descended from someone who actually lived in Palestine; they just have to be Jewish. Even those who are converts can use this provision if the conversion is recognized by selected Rabbis. Government officials actively encourage this pseudo returning while denying entry to people who would actually be returning.
While the Canadian government has said nothing, Vicki Ashton of the NDP has spoken out about this matter. We should thank her.
You likely mean Niki Ashton, an NDP MP.
Yes I did.
Why Israel will massacre totally peaceful demonstrators, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that they do not pose the slightest danger, here is why.
Israeli policy makers were terrified that if peaceful demos will continue in Gaza and copied in other places in the West Bank to become a movement, which Israel won’t be able to tell the world their usual crap that Palestinians are all terrorists, while continuing their goals of ethnic cleansing and taking over the West Bank. They are afraid that more and more Israelis and people around the world will talk against the occupation, if peaceful demos will spread.
That is why they were willing to temporarily being criticized, but achieving the big aim of not letting the world to view the Palestinians in a more favorable way. As an Israeli parliament member said recently: What ever Israel does to the Palestinians, it is forgotten by the world within a couple of month.
You are partially right: if the border fence will be breached and thousands of Palestinians will march into Israel, it will be a situation that Israel would not be able to handle
shooting hundreds of Palestinians will be unpalatable, let Hamas terrorist march into Kibbuzim and massacre Jews will be unacceptable, so maiming Palestinians who are nearing the fence in an affort to deter others is the only acceptable solution.
The problem : statistics. Wound a hundred people and some will accidentally die
Anyway , it looks as if that problem is now contained.
Palestinians in Gaza laugh at the idea that they want to invade kibbutzim and massacre Jews. They told me that Hamas was careful to use its tunnels to attack Israeli military positions around Gaza, not civilians. I was even told they took a video of one incident to prove their case.
Your remarks make it clear that Israel should abandon its policy of denying the “right of return” and agree to a controlled and orderly return to a land that does not discriminate on the basis of religion or ethnicity.. The present policy is neither just nor sustainable.
There is much to be learned by reading this excellent report and all the comments that follow. Authentically honest reporting is vastly different from ‘Honest Reporting Canada’ .
Thank you Peter.
Having watched lived a variety of sources from the various locations on the borders the last six Friday’s, the message is very clear. For some people, they may need someone from the outside to verify this, so in that sense good you were able to do this Peter. Please however don’t play into the “demographic balance” arguments of the zionist project. The focus needs to be on ending apartheid, colonization, and genocide. Zionism can be nothing other than a human right violation. After 1600 years of Christendom, we now have spent 70 years with a Jewish state. A state that provides specific rights for any one people can be nothing other than a racist state. I would at no time refer to the Israeli military as “defence”—they are occupiers and extrajudicially kill civilians. Certainly, Amnesty, Al Haq, and other human rights/international law groups are on the ground providing very accurate reporting. The information is clear–the problem is the message is muted in the media, and the government is silent.. The zionist project ensures that fear along with their narrative prevail.
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