Notes: When the shootings of Gazans by IDF forces began several weeks ago, I wrote a blog calling into question the deaths of unarmed Palestinians. Since that day several more attempts by Gazans to breech the fence on Israel’s border on successive Fridays have occurred and, as Haaretz’s Amos Harel reports below, 44 Palestinians have been killed so far with many hundreds injured.

Since many of you do not subscribe to Haaretz (which I recommend) I am reprinting Harel’s most recent report below.

Before you read it, I want to say the following:

First – These demonstrations are controlled by Hamas. They are not peaceful. Many of those breeching the fence are Hamas fighters/terrorists and are armed. Unarmed Palestinians are being used as human shields, a war crime.

Second – Israelis are legitimately terrified that thousands of Gazans will enter Israel and attack Israelis. They want the IDF to protect them even as many Israelis regret the loss of innocent Palestinian lives.

Third – Israel is being portrayed in the international media as over-reacting. I do not believe this is true. Given what Harel reports, Israel has a security challenge and is behaving as responsibly as possible.

Fourth – Gaza shares a border with Egypt, but Hamas is not attacking that border. Why? Because Hamas wants to destroy Israel – not Egypt – and strategically uses every Friday to draw Israeli fire and thereby deliberately cause Palestinian causalities for all the world to see and to draw conclusions based on partial truths.

Fifth – As I said in my first blog on these recent events, we sitting here in America cannot second guess Israeli soldiers in the field in the midst of combat. The IDF has a clear ethical code in war known as “Tohar Haneshek” (lit. “Purity of Arms”) and according to Harel’s report, soldiers have been ordered to shoot at the legs and not with the intent to kill. That so many Palestinians have been killed is a tragic unintended consequence of war.

Sixth – Much of the blame for what is taking place on the Gaza border has to be laid at the feet of Hamas that has spent a fortune of money it receives from the UNRWA over the years to build a network of tunnels to attack Israel while not spending that relief money to build schools and hospitals and to rebuild apartment buildings destroyed in past Gaza wars.

Seventh – Israel has for years sent hundreds of trucks daily into Gaza filled with food and medical supplies. That truth has been ignored by most media and is unknown to most people in the west. I do not know whether these trucks are still driving into Gaza since the fighting began, but the world ought to know that Israeli trucks have provided badly needed provisions to Gazans who are suffering under a brutal Hamas regime. It also needs to be known that Israel has for some time established emergency medical camps just inside the Israeli border near Gaza and near Syria to give emergency treatment to Palestinians and Syrians in need.

And eighth – We Diaspora Jews need to give Israel the benefit of the doubt. Blaming Israel for the situation in Gaza is unfair and not truthful.

Here is Harel’s report today in Haaretz – a link to the article is at the conclusion:

He says legs are being targeted, but in some cases the protester bent over, a sniper missed or a bullet ricocheted ■ Friday’s attempt to breach fence was most violent yet, the officer adds

Amos Harel

Apr 29, 2018 2:17 PM

Most of the Israeli army’s killings of Palestinians during the Gaza-border protests have resulted from snipers aiming at demonstrators’ legs, with the killings an unintentional outcome after a protester bent down, a sniper missed, a bullet ricocheted or a similar phenomenon, a senior officer in the Southern Command said.

The Israeli army has killed 44 protesters since March 30; it cites its efforts to prevent a breach of the border fence as Gazans demonstrate in their “March of Return” each Friday.

The officer told Haaretz that open-fire directives on the border only let snipers shoot at the legs of people approaching the border, and that a person’s chest may be targeted only amid the other side’s apparent intent to use weapons and threaten Israelis’ lives.

The officer, who was with Israeli forces at the fence Friday, said the demonstrators’ attempt to breach the barrier marked the most violent action by the Gaza Palestinians since their fence protests began.

Four Palestinians were killed by crowd-control methods and sniper fire, including a 15-year-old boy, and hundreds were wounded. Most of the casualties occurred in one incident near the Karni crossing toward the end of the day, when hundreds of Palestinians breached the barbed-wire fence that the army had installed inside the Gaza Strip. Dozens of protesters reached the border itself.

The officer said it seemed the protesters were acting according to a decently organized plan. The crowd bypassed the Karni crossing from the south and moved toward the border, led by young men using pieces of barbed wire and makeshift winches to try to dismantle the barbed-wire fence blocking their way to the border.

Those who managed to cross the barbed-wire fence attacked the border fence itself with firebombs and explosives.

The army says that its crowd-control methods don’t do well in large open areas, and that the commanders had no alternative but live sniper fire to stop the incursions.

According to the officer, the latest protest shows that Hamas’ leaders completely control the scene and that the clashes are planned and managed from above. He said the Palestinians were intentionally sending children, women, disabled people and the mentally ill toward the fence.

Two 15-year-olds and two journalists have been killed so far. Most of the other fatalities are young men, some of them affiliated with Hamas.