|Syrians approaching the Israeli border in 2011|
The current “Great Return March” is not the first attempt by Palestinians to “return” to Israel by pretending to peacefully march through the Israeli borders.
In 2011, there were two sets of similar demonstrations or attempts, in May and June for Nakba Day and Naksa Day. Arabs of Palestinian descent attempted to walk into Israel from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, as well as Gaza and the West Bank.
In most cases, the demonstrators were not stopped by Israel, but by the police and armies of the host countries and territories – often violently.
The Egyptian army stopped any buses with demonstrators before they could approach the border, and in Jordan dozens were injured as the Jordanian security forces stopped the demonstrators from approaching the border with Israel.
If these were peaceful protests, then why would the host countries be willing to use violence to stop its own citizens from approaching Israeli territory?
The reason is that everyone knows that crossing a border without permission is an act of war, not an act of protest. The countries wanted to avoid the possibility of starting a war with Israel (with the exception of Syria, which facilitated the demonstrations in order to distract the world from the beginnings of the Syrian uprising.)
During the June 5 demonstrations, even Hamas stopped the protesters from approaching the Gaza border by putting up checkpoints and arresting those who tried to bypass them.
At the time, the US issued a statement saying the obvious truth: “We call for all sides to exercise restraint. Provocative actions like this should be avoided. Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself.”
What was so obvious in 2011, that attempts to breach a border are acts of war that can be expected to be met with deadly force, has suddenly become controversial in 2018.
It is also notable that Israel used the exact same methods to stop the protesters in 2018 as in 2011: warning them, using tear gas, and shooting at their legs when the other methods didn’t work. There were no condemnations from the international community then, and as we’ve seen even Lebanon and Jordan and Egypt – and Hamas – attempted to stop the protests, with violence if necessary.
The international reaction to the current wave of violent riots is the height of hypocrisy.
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