As the U.S. Embassy opens in Jerusalem, there have been dozen of protests by Palestinians and clashes between them and Israeli troops have resulted in several deaths.
Yael Aronoff, director of Michigan State University's Jewish Studies Program and the Serling Chair in Israeli Studies, can discuss the struggle for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
She says Palestinians have been protesting every Friday at the border between Gaza and Israel for over a month. Hamas has stated that the main objective of the protests is to have all Palestinians who want to to be able to live in pre-1967 borders of Israel, which are accepted by the international community as Israel's borders, to be able to return and live in Israel.
Additional reasons for protests include Israel's 70th year of independence, which Israel is celebrating today, which is considered to be the Nakba, or catastrophe for Palestinians; the move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem today; and the harsh conditions in Gaza. While many of the protesters are peacefully demonstrating, there are also dozens of armed Hamas militants using live fire, malotov cocktails, plastic explosives and knives to hit Israeli soldiers across the border, try to go past the border to execute terrorist attacks, and who fly kites that light up Israeli agricultural fields on fire.
All countries have a right to protect their borders and illegal entry at their borders, especially when some are from Hamas, which still formally calls for Israel's destruction. Yet, the number of Palestinians killed calls into question the methods used by Israel.
Israel contends that many of the people at the border are not peaceful and that it first uses non-lethal measures and only uses lethal measures as a last resort to protect the border. It also contends that it is criticized when non-militants are killed, but that Palestinians intentionally fire from smoky areas, which makes it more difficult for them to distinguish civilians from non-civilians. Palestinians claim that Israel should not be using lethal force, and that civilians are also being killed. However, some in the Palestinian Authority have also criticized Hamas for encouraging civilians, and even children, to come close to the border and try to cross it.
Aronoff can be reached at (517) 884-1275 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Here's a link to her bio: http://jsp.msu.edu/faculty/name/yael-aronoff-2/.
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