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Naqba Day Reflections from Hamas and Others

Ismail Haniyeh, the PM of Hamas and renewed partner of the Palestinian Authority as it pursues statehood for Palestine, addressed 10,000 people at Gaza City’s al-Omari mosque today to commemorate Naqba Day. “Palestinians mark the Naqba with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine,” he said. “Palestinians have the right to resist Israeli occupation and will one day return to property they lost in 1948.” He went on to implore worshippers to pray for an end to the state of Israel and reiterated that under no circumstances would Hamas ever recognize her right to exist.

The ever-reliable Saeb Erekat of the PA insisted that the problem of peace between our two nations is not his new partner’s commitment to our total destruction, but the Israelis’ persistent intransigence. “Netanyahu has closed the doors on negotiations,” he said. “I want to hear the numbers 1-9-6-7 from Netanyahu. Until we don’t hear that, we’re not going to waste our time [sic].”

Meanwhile, the academics are weighing in. Dr. Daphne Richmond-Barak, an international law expert from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, made clear that the penetration of the Israeli border by Syrian protesters today was “an unprecedented act in modern history and a clear violation of Israeli sovereignty as determined by article 51 of the United Nations Charter” (to quote The Jerusalem Post). With that said, she also noted that firing on civilians is a breach of international law, and Israel will likely be expected to defend her actions. “Most of the details surrounding the shooting are not yet known. Important considerations are whether the protesters were armed or not, whether they were an organized association of a paramilitary nature, whether the soldiers who fired felt they were in immediate danger and shot out of self defense and a series of other possibilities that are too vague to judge,” she said.

According to Professor Asa Kasher, one of the authors of the IDF’s code of ethics, “[t]he laws of war are not the appropriate framework for judging the events in the north. We are not talking about an attack by an invading army. It would be more appropriate to look to the US’s actions against Mexican infiltrators on its southern border to learn about legitimate use of force.”

Dr. Assaf Moghadem, also of the IDC and an expert on counterterrorism, believes the whole exercise may have been staged by Assad as a diversionary tactic. “What could be better for Assad than diverting the people’s anger from himself towards Israel? I wouldn’t put it beyond the range of the possible that he recruited people to cross the border in order to shift the pressure to Israel,” he said. He added that the ploy could backfire inside Syria, where much of the population is likely to recognize it for what it was.

By the way: there was also to have been a breach from the east today, but the Jordanian police prevented it. Hundreds of activists, joined by about forty Turks, came within a few hundred yards of the Israel border, but were dispersed by Jordanian tear gas before reaching the King Hussein crossing. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 in which it committed itself to preventing the use of its territory as a launching pad for hostilities against Israel.