Another Friday afternoon

Breaking news (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Breaking news
(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
The second Friday in the string of some half-dozen planned to peak on the Palestinian celebration of Nakba passed with only about 2/3 the number of demonstrators as last week, and half the deaths (9) said to be the result of IDF gunfire.
 
The big prize for the Palestinians was the death of a journalist, said to be peacefully covering events close to the border, and wearing a vest with the label "Press." Whether the thick smoke produced by the tires burned by the Palestinians as the center piece of this demonstration kept an IDF sniper from reading what was written on the man's vest is something we don't know.
 
But nothing is stopping Israel MK Ahmed Tibi from calling it murder, the Association of Palestinian Journalists from preparing a case for the World Court, and the Israeli organization B'Tselem from accusing the IDF of indiscriminate killing.
 
It may never be possible to establish without doubt that the journalist was killed by an Israeli. Organizers of the rush to the border had more reason to cause such an iconic death than the IDF. Those doubting the likelihood that Palestinians and their friends would kill one of their own or fabricate an IDF misdeed should Google the name Muhammad al-Durrah.
 
International worthies, including some prominent American Jews, are lamenting Israel's inability to be more careful in avoiding the killing of Palestinians who do not present an immediate threat. 
 
What we don't hear is any detailed comparison of Israel's actions compared to the work of American police, said to have killed about a thousand people in 2017, including a disproportionate incidence of African Americans and Hispanics. 
 
We don't know how the American police would respond to 20-30,000 massed in an organized movement toward a defined border. Nor have the critics pondered the problems of dealing with nuanced responses amidst such a mass, especially when the air is filled with the black smoke of burning tires.
 
The death tolls in these encounters have been below the numbers killed in the riots of Watts 1965, Detroit 1967, Los Angeles in connection with Rodney King, and in Washington after the death of Martin Luther King. Those numbers ranged from 35 to more than 60.
 
The General Secretary of the United Nations has called again for an investigation of Israel's actions. All but the US delegate voted in the Security Council to begin an investigation. We can only wonder how many of those affirmative votes were cast in a mood of political correctness, when it was clear that the US would  veto.
 
Except for Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, Muslim governments and the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank seem to have given up on Gaza. Yet they can all be counted upon to call for international action against Israel after another weekend of massed action, tire burning, throwing stones and firebombs, predictable deaths and injuries.
 
For Israel, it's the price of maintaining itself in the Middle East. 
 
We can perceive that the incidence of craziness has decreased and become more localized, but it requires a continued investment in intelligence gathering, massing troops and police despite the Passover Holiday, and preparing them to use a minimum of force but not to avoid deadly force when appropriate. 
 
After each encounter there's a military inquiry and refinement if necessary of instructions and training. 
 
The precise use of force might not be up to expectations held by those who expect great care against massed demonstrators, an unknown number of them intent on violence.
 
Once violence begins, the confusion, noise, smoke, and smell of an encounter works affects the results.
 
What else can Israel do other than repeat its preparations for a weekend confrontation and its mid-week dropping of notices and other announcements warning Palestinians to stay away from the border?
 
In response to the festivities involving burning tires, and their threat to the environment of both Gaza and Israel, the IDF has announced that will halt--for the time being--the transfer of tires from Israel to Gaza. 
 
The IDF is getting ready for an escalation of rocket fire from Gaza to Israel. The gravest prediction is that will be accompanied by Hezbollah's unleashing its substantial missile arsenal. So far, Israel's most recent lesson to Gaza of 2014 and 2006 to Lebanon have kept both sources to their rhetorical threats. Israelis have threatened retaliations that will make previous encounters appear mild, but no one can be sure how things will develop.
 
 
Comments welcome
-- 
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
irashark@gmail.com