boy holds a Palestinian flag as he stands amidst smoke during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City May 14, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
J Street has strongly criticized what it has calls Israel’s “use of lethal force against unarmed protesters,” during the Gaza border protests on Monday in which, according to Hamas, 61 Palestinians were killed by IDF fire.
The organization also censured the timing of the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, saying that it was motivated by right-wing political concerns in both America and Israel rather than resolving the conflict.
“While Israel has every right to defend itself against threats to the security of its residents and the integrity of its borders, there is no way to justify the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters,” said J Street in a statement to the press. “While some of those at the border have attempted to breach the fence or violently attack Israelis, thousands of marchers are nonviolently protesting the horrific humanitarian conditions in which they live – and the absence of any serious effort to help them achieve a better future.”
The IDF said on Tuesday that at least 24 of those killed on Monday were “terrorists with documented terror backgrounds,” while Hamas acknowledged the death of 10 of its operatives during the day’s events.
J Street did say however that Hamas “bears much responsibility for the situation in Gaza” and that “its rulers oppress their own people and dangerously encourage them to breach the border, while remaining committed to terror and violence against Israel.”
Reform movement leader in the US Rabbi Rick Jacobs was also critical of Israel’s response to the border riots, saying that he was “alarmed, concerned, and profoundly saddened by the growing number of Gazan dead and wounded,” and “urge[d] the government of Israel to take all precautions to minimize civilian casualties.”
But he condemned the Hamas leadership for “encouraging incitement at the border with Israel,” and demanded that the Palestinian Authority “do all within its power to end the violence, not inflame it,” saying that Israel “has the right, and even the obligation, to defend herself and her borders.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews was however unequivocal in its attribution of blame and condemnation for the bloodshed on Monday, saying that “no state could allow its borders to be breached by those who openly wish harm to its civilians,” but expressed “profound anguish” at the loss of life.
“The responsibility for the violence lies with Hamas, a terrorist organization with the explicit stated aim of murdering Israeli civilians and the ultimate destruction of the State of Israel... Hamas is cynical in the use of its population – including children – to join known terrorists in violent attempts to break through the border and kill Israeli citizens,” said Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush and president-elect Marie van der Zyl.