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On Friday, March 30, thousands of Palestinian refugees in Gaza embarked on the “Great March of Return” towards the “border” with Israel, calling for the right to return to the homes from which they were ejected in 1947/1948. The Israeli military immediately attacked the peaceful protesters, using live ammunition and killing seventeen and injuring more than 1,400. Corporate media rationalized Israel’s aggression as an alleged result of direct clashes with Palestinians.

March 30 is observed by Palestinians as Land Day, and commemorates Israel’s killing of Palestinians who protested Israeli expropriation of Palestinian land in 1976.

For this year’s anniversary, Palestinians in Gaza organized a collective, anti-colonial demonstration. It not only addressed Israel’s failure to respect and honor the right of return for Palestinians refugees (as promulgated by UN Resolution 194), but also the increasing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Due to Israel’s decade-long sea, land, and air siege, Gazans have been suffering from shortages of food, water, and electricity, while collectively ghettoized and incarcerated in the world’s most densely populated territory. On top of that, Israel has regularly bombarded Gaza – including during its genocidal 2014 war – and used it as a testing ground for its military technology.

Israel’s violent response to the demonstrations is in line with these practices, as well as Tel Aviv’s general tradition of violently suppressing dissent. Official Israeli rhetoric about the great march is not new either. A special cable sent to all Israeli diplomats by Israel’s foreign ministry contains the usual rhetoric: blaming Hamas, claiming that Hamas uses Gazans as human shields, and portraying Israel as a benevolent actor facing an existential threat.

Since Israel’s latest act of aggression in Gaza began, the so-called international community has largely remained silent about the Israeli government’s actions. On March 31, the United States blocked a UN Security Council resolution, which called for an independent and transparent investigation into Israel’s violence.

Western media has abetted Israel’s crimes by once again perpetuating a false narrative of Palestinian aggression. According to CNN, for example, “[t]he march quickly turned bloody as Palestinian protesters and Israeli military clashed along the fence.” The Washington Post reported that “[p]rotests lead to deadly clashes,” while The New York Times linguistically modified Israeli propaganda and claimed that “the Israelis responded” to Palestinian violence.

By erasing the geo-political context, including the occupation itself, these reports suggest there is equal power between a heavily armed colonizer and a besieged population, all in order to justify Israel’s aggression. Audio-visual recordings and live streams shared from Gazan protesters on Twitter point to a different reality, however.

Activists and academics have also condemned Western media coverage of events in Gaza.

Unfortunately, this evidence of Israeli violence has fallen on deaf ears. This comes as no surprise, of course. Palestinians have been rhetorically dehumanized for over a century, without receiving much empathy. Even when massacred by Israeli forces, Palestinians are, once again, being blamed for their own deaths.

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