In what many are calling the Passover Massacre, the Israeli military recently sprayed bullets at peaceful Palestinian protestors, killing 19-year-old Abdul Fattah Nabi, as he ran away from Gaza’s fence bordering Israel.
Like Nabi, the protesters joined 30,000 fellow Palestinians to protest the continued occupation of Palestinian lands, the economic strangulation and the restriction of movement of Gazans, and the Israeli expropriation of huge tracts of Palestinian land.
The march commemorated the 42nd anniversary of 'Land Day' when Israeli forces killed six unarmed Palestinians during another peaceful protest, calling for the Palestinian right to return.
In the Senate Report accompanying the spending bill passed recently, the United States has threatened to withhold UN funding for any “official action” it deems against “the national security interest of the United States or any ally of the United States, including Israel.”
Israel is the only ally specifically mentioned in the Report.
This is three months after President Donald Trump threatened to withhold billions of dollars in US aid from countries that voted for the UN Resolution rejecting Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In January, the United States slashed $65 million worth of pledged aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency, which is designated for Palestinian refugees.
Last month, the Trump administration requested $3.3 billion for 2019 in foreign military financing, while seeking an overall reduction in foreign aid. That includes $500 million in missile defense in foreign aid to Israel, a $200 million increase from last year.
To date, the United States has distributed $134.7 billion to the state of Israel in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding - more than any other nation since World War II.
This aid follows the Memorandum of Understanding, executed in 2016 during the Obama administration, resulting in the United States pledging $38 billion to the state of Israel over the course of the next decade.
The recent murders are the latest in a long string of human rights violations carried out by Israel, a staunch US ally.
In 2017, Human Rights Watch reported five overarching categories of human rights and humanitarian law abuses by the state of Israel including unlawful killings, forced displacement, abusive detention, movement restrictions, and the development of settlements.
Israel continues to justify these violations in the name of security or self-defence.
Four months ago, 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi was arrested for slapping an Israeli soldier standing outside her home, in occupied Nabi Saleh, hours after she’d learned that her 15-year-old cousin had been shot in the head at close range by Israeli soldiers. She was charged with assault and incitement, for using social media to influence public opinion.
While this child activist is serving eight months in jail, the Israeli army soldiers who murdered at least 16, are free.
A day after the Gaza protest, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on Twitter, addressing his followers: “Well done to our soldiers. Israel acts vigorously and with determination to protect its sovereignty and the security of its citizens.”
The official position of Israel is the soldiers fired in self-defense.
As the world watches, the United States has blocked a draft statement in the UN Security Council calling for an investigation into the use of deadly force on protesters.
All the while hundreds of Israelis march in Tel Aviv in solidarity with Gazans. Human rights lawyer, Michael Sfard, who attended the protest said, “Gaza is under siege and has been under occupation for the past decade. The people of Gaza are suffering from an enormous humanitarian crisis and now, when they tried to protest against it, they were met with brutal force which killed 16 of them and injured and maimed many others. As an Israeli, my duty is to protest against the evils that are done in my name.”
Certainly, each nation-state is responsible for ensuring its security, but the use of deadly force on an occupied people during a peaceful protest does not qualify as national security. The US should not fund it.
That people abroad may hate American freedom is a mythology pandered to obscure the real effect of US intervention and “aid” has wrought across the globe. When the US subsidises human rights abuses, that is how national security threats are born. Is that not "against the national security interests of the United States"?
The United States has a special obligation to ensure its aid is not used to systematically dehumanise and usurp the land of the indigenous Palestinian population.
Because of its long standing history supporting Israel’s military pursuits, the United States must condemn not only the latest murders of Palestinians, but also the consistent policy of Israeli land grabs in Palestine, in violation of international law.
Continuing to provide aid for Palestinian refugees is not only a humanitarian imperative, it is also an investment in US national security.