IDF awards Israeli soldiers for deadly crackdown on Gaza protests
Sometimes described in the media as “clashes,” the protests in Gaza involve heavily-armed Israeli snipers firing into crowds of unarmed young Palestinians. Those killed by IDF fire include journalists, medics and children.
GAZA CITY — The chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Gadi Eisenkot, awarded the IDF’s Gaza Division with a “certificate of appreciation” for contributing to “Israel’s security” by brutally suppressing protests, ongoing since March in the Palestinian enclave.
The controversial award was given as the number of unarmed Gazan demonstrators wounded by the IDF since March 30 surpassed 22,000 while the number of those killed by the IDF over that same time frame reached 198. Since “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, the IDF’s Gaza Division has sustained one single fatality.
A statement released by the IDF spokesperson on Wednesday stated:
The Gaza Division is dealing with a variety of threats, against which it stands strong, while showing determination, creativity and wisdom. It is working night and day to defend the residents of the South.”
During the award ceremony, which took place at the Gaza Division’s headquarters in Re’im, Eisenkot told those assembled:
Over the past six months you have dealt with terror attacks, attempts to violate our sovereignty and various terror activities under the guise of popular protests involving women, children and adults.”
Eisenkot added that the division had “acted responsibly and professionally in a complex reality” and deserved “international recognition” for its efforts.
Though commonly described by the corporate Western media as “clashes,” the protests in Gaza involve heavily-armed Israeli snipers firing into crowds of unarmed young Palestinians. Those killed by IDF fire include journalists, medics and children. IDF soldiers are under orders to shoot protesters who get “too close” to the border fence.
“No innocent people”
A photo of 11-year-old Nasser Musabeh, shot and killed by Israeli troops at a protest in Gaza, is displayed in a school in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, Sept. 29, 2018. Sanad Abu Latifa | AP
The brutal nature of the repression led Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to assert that there are no “innocent people” in Gaza, despite the Strip being home to one million adolescents and children; and Israel Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to claim that the only way for the Gaza border to be “completely quiet” would be for Israel “to conquer the Strip.”
Warnings have emerged periodically over the past year that the IDF is preparing to “conquer” Gaza. Earlier this year in July, the IDF stated that if “incendiary balloons” and similar objects continue to cross the Gaza-Israel border, Israel may decide it has “no choice” but to embark on a military campaign intended to “conquer all of Gaza,” according to a report that aired on Israel’s Channel 10 News on Tuesday and was cited by the Times of Israel. This warning was followed by a major IDF drill practicing “securing control” over Gaza.
In February, Eisenkot stated that another Israeli invasion of Gaza was “likely” to occur this year. Eisenkot ironically framed the imminent invasion as a way to “prevent a humanitarian collapse” in Gaza, suggesting that military action against Gazan civilians and infrastructure would somehow improve the daily lives of the Strip’s inhabitants.
The dire situation in Gaza is widely believed to be nearing a dangerous climax, with the vast majority of Gazan drinking water being nonpotable and the UN warning that the entire Strip will be uninhabitable in less than two years. The increasingly troubling humanitarian situation in Gaza is largely the result of Israel’s blockade of the enclave, now in its 11th year.