Firing back at international condemnations over Gaza border casualties

Leading international legal experts says Israel is following agreements set in the 1995 Olso II accords that envisage the dangers inherent in attempts to approach the border.  

By Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News

UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad demanded that Israel stop the  “excessive use of force” by its security forces along the Gaza border and hold to account those responsible for the “many deaths and injuries” sustained by Palestinians in the past month.

Amnesty International went even further, calling for an arms embargo against Israel along with a “war crimes” investigation at the International Criminal Court.

Palestinian attacks on the border are expected to continue each Friday for several more weeks.

Palestinians participating in “March of Return” protests, include violent rioters, protesters burning tires, throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops, flying flammable kites over the border and attempting to destroy the border fence.

The IDF insists its sharpshooters “target only those who attack IDF soldiers with stones and Molotov cocktails, actively try to damage the security fence, or attempt to place improvised explosive devices along the security fence that could later be used in attacks against Israeli patrols.”

This past Friday, hundreds of Palestinians converged on the Strip’s border fence with Israel, trying to break through it before drawing Israeli fire in one of the most violent incidents yet in five weeks of protests.

According to medical officials in Gaza, three people were killed and over 300 hurt in Friday rallies as tens of thousands of Palestinians converged on the border with Israel. The IDF says it “thwarted” an attempted infiltration by Palestinian protesters after “hundreds of rioters” tried to burn the fence and enter Israel. According to the army, the crowd threw explosives, firebombs and rocks, and troops opened fire “in accordance with the rules of engagement” and halted the crowd.

‘We have every right to protect ourselves’

International law expert Alan Baker from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs insists that Israel has taken “legal defensive actions” that were agreed upon with the Palestinians in the Oslo II Accords signed in 1995. Baker told World Israel News, “Anybody trying to illegally infiltrate the border is in violation of the agreement. If they have a hostile intent to harm Israel, we have every right to protect ourselves.”

“These events were taken hostage by the Hamas terror organization governing the Gaza Strip, which sent its fighters to embed themselves among the demonstrators. They brutally turned the protest into a series of acts of violence, including lobbing incendiary devices against Israeli soldiers guarding the border, placing explosive devices on the border fence, using firearms against the soldiers, and attempting to cut the fence to cross the border with violent intent. The international community has difficulty in seeing the events as they really occurred. It seems that the usual, selective international hypocrisy is striking once again,” Baker said.

Col. (Reserve) Miri Eisin, a former communications director in the Prime Minister’s office agrees that the IDF actions on the border are both legal and legitimate. Eisin said, however, that Israel should be taking a broader view of the border riots. 

She told WIN, “Most of the population in Gaza is now in their 20s and 30s. There is a population of two million, and half of them are under 25. The trajectory is only getting worse. They charge the fence because they have nothing to lose. Certainly Hamas has hijacked this frustration. Israel has a right to defend itself, but we should also realize that there is a broader picture beyond border security. Gaza residents have a hopeless existence, and it will only get worse. This is lose, lose for us.”

‘No vision or long-term policy’

“The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is actually silently supporting the Israeli border policy because of their animosity toward Hamas. They want Gaza and its leaders to be choked. But that does not resolve anything. We need to acknowledge what is happening there. I am less concerned about the legal issue because Israel is within its rights. I am more concerned that from a diplomatic viewpoint there is no vision and no long[term policy. We feel vindicated because of their violence, but that does not offer a path toward a solution that would alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza. Our wanting to share the responsibility with Egypt, which also has a border with Gaza, does not provide us with a solution,” Eisin said.