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Israelis deny Massacre In Gaza, from Peter Myers

(1) With tunnels blocked, Hamas tries non-violence. Israel responds with live fire(2) Israel defends decision to deploy snipers amid Gaza protests(3) Israelis deny Massacre In Gaza(4) Killing Palestinian protesters turns into a PR debacle for Israel(5) Israel's diplomatic blunder - Michael Oren(6) Palestinian Authority calls for international inquiry over Gazan Deaths(1) With tunnels blocked, Hamas tries non-violence. Israel responds with live fire's Gaza nightmareBen Caspit April 2, 2018The Israeli military continues to fear a scenario in which Palestinians break through the Gaza border fence into Israel.The March 30 Great March of Return to the Gaza border fence was nothing more than Act 1 of an unfolding drama, a dress rehearsal or possibly a pilot for what one can expect to see in the very near future. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are now preparing for April 17, Palestinian Prisoners Day, also the eve of Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers, and for May 15, Nakba Day, also the day after the United States is expected to open its new embassy in Jerusalem.Further complicating matters, the latter event coincides with the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The Great March of Return was initiated and orchestrated by Hamas in an attempt to change the rules of the game, create a new balance of power and send a message to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the struggle for the hearts and minds of the Palestinian people is far from over. Hamas is alive and kicking, and it is marching as well.Hamas is in the process of losing its tunnels as a weapon. The IDF and Egypt have also successfully prevented the group from smuggling into Gaza rockets, missiles and other arms that could break the balance of power. Facing the most threatening dead end ever, Hamas found a way to reinvent itself: a popular, mass march by tens of thousands of people, all heading to the Israeli border at the Erez checkpoint, where they would trample the fence, break the Israeli siege and move on toward Jerusalem or at least to the southern town of Ashkelon. Images of IDF tanks and helicopters firing at civilians marching for their freedom would be Israel’s worst imaginable nightmare. That is why the IDF has decided not to let that happen.The IDF prepared for 100,000 marchers on March 30. That Hamas only managed to rally 35,000, according to the official Israeli estimate, is seen as a failure by the movement, already in a daunting state of crisis. It was thought that women and children would be at the forefront of the demonstrations, shielding others who would attempt to break through the fence and hide explosive devices or otherwise attack IDF troops. As the event neared, official Israeli spokespeople, including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot issued a stern warning to Hamas' leaders. The IDF stationed more than 100 snipers along the fence, with strict rules of engagement. The objectives were to conclude the event with a minimum number of casualties, make every effort to avoid shooting women and children and prevent any damage to the fence."Just imagine what could have happened," one senior Israeli defense official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. "Picture the outcome if they would have burst through the fence, even at a single point, and begun marching into Israel. It would have ended in a bloodbath. We don’t have the privilege of allowing masses of Palestinians to march to Jerusalem, Ashkelon or any of the kibbutzim along the fence. We would have no choice but to employ enormous force, and that would have resulted in dozens, if not hundreds, of casualties. The images would have been a huge victory for the Palestinians. As far as we’re concerned, the fact that the recent event ended with 16 casualties, 12 of whom have already been identified as Hamas terrorists, but without any casualties among the women and children, is a very significant achievement on our part. It should not be taken for granted."The IDF believes that it was able to let the air out of Hamas' balloon and keep the group from claiming an achievement before they continue with the current strategy. "Next time," Liberman said, "we have the capacity to respond more forcibly. We will not hesitate to use any means at our disposal." His statement was meant to emphasize that when it comes to violations of Israel's sovereignty along the border fence, Israel has no plans to blink.One senior military official told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity, "Understand, this fence is a border in every sense of the term. No country in the world would allow terrorists to break through its borders. All anyone has to do is to listen to the leaders of Hamas. They did not call this event a demonstration against the occupation but a March of Return. They announced that they would be marching to Jerusalem. They declare again and again that they do not recognize Israel’s right to exist. That is why they leave us no choice but to block them by force, no matter what the cost."The cost is the essential issue that makes Israel’s achievement on Friday problematic. The far left was critical of what transpired, while the leaders of the center-left Zionist Camp expressed their support for the IDF and the measures taken by the government. That aside, the security establishment is well aware that the high number of casualties helps Hamas keep its fires burning. It may even be fanning the flames. Israel has a clear interest in minimizing the number of casualties, since this would help lower the flames and restore calm. While the IDF considers that it contained the number of fatalities to 16, that is still a high number. It is more than either side has suffered in a day, with the exception of when actually fighting.On April 1, the IDF began to speed up its construction and engineering projects involving Gaza. Obstacles and additional barriers are being installed to delay and even prevent Palestinians from quickly breaking through the fence into Israeli territory. Work continues at a fast pace and with vast sums to complete the underground barrier to deny Palestinians the ability to tunnel into Israel.Eizenkot, in Passover interviews, estimated that the underground barrier would be completed this year. With the identification and destruction of any existing tunnels, apparently in the single digits, Hamas will no longer have a significant strategic weapon to use against Israel. Given this, Israel realizes that the only weapon Hamas has left is mass marches.The working assumption in Israel is that going forward, Hamas activists will not be satisfied with trying to plant explosive devices along the border fence or otherwise ignite the area. "It is possible that the next time, they will try to shoot at IDF troops," a senior Israeli military figure told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity. "They will try to incite the area and cause us to make a mistake, which would send tens of thousands of people to the fence."The IDF will try not to make that mistake. A 7-year-old girl brought to the fence on March 30 was returned to her parents by the IDF. The question is whether the next time, Israel will avoid making any major mistakes and creating a new Mohammed al-Dura, the Palestinian boy killed while huddling from gunfire with his father at the Kisufim checkpoint at the start of the last intifada, in 2000. A mistake of that magnitude would reshuffle the deck, putting Hamas back on center stage and the Palestinian issue back on the international agenda. Could that happen? Anything is possible.(2) Israel defends decision to deploy snipers amid Gaza protests Eldar April 3, 2018Despite having expertise in using nonlethal means to disperse violent demonstrations, the Israeli military chose to use live fire against demonstrators across the border in Gaza.Hamas has conceded that five of at least 17 Palestinians killed by Israeli live fire at a demonstration along the border with Gaza on March 30 were members of the organization. Israel insists that 10 or 12 of those killed were "terrorists." Even if one accepts the Israeli version, that still leaves five unarmed civilians shot to death by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), with more likely to come. Gaza’s Hamas rulers have already declared that the bloodshed would not disrupt the events they dub the Great Return March, scheduled to run until May 15, when Palestinians mark Nakba Day, the "catastrophe" of Israel’s establishment in 1948.Prior to the protest, IDF senior officers had told Haaretz that a high number of casualties was a "price we would be willing to pay to prevent a breach" of the border fence. Even after the clashes, the IDF continues to insist that it will not change its rules of engagement regarding Gaza protesters. Meanwhile, the Israeli government is unimpressed by the urgent UN Security Council session convened March 31 to discuss the deadly results and by the condemnations issued in world capitals.While Gaza was burying its dead, Israeli news media were busy reporting on the masses celebrating the weeklong Passover holiday at the country’s parks and beaches. The few Israelis who questioned the need for live fire against civilians, such as Meretz Chair Tamar Zandberg and radio host Kobi Meidan, came under a different type of live fire by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed a barrage against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who dared condemn the killing of civilians in Gaza. The same Netanyahu had five years earlier apologized to the Turkish people for the killing of nine Turkish civilians who took part in a May 2010 humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza. Netanyahu told Erdogan at the time that the tragic results of the incident, during which Israeli commandoes boarded the Mavi Marmara to block its arrival in Gaza, were unintentional and admitted that the Israeli investigation had uncovered several operational errors.Were the tragic results of the Passover 2018 incident unintentional as well? Is the most sophisticated military in the Middle East — adept at locating and destroying nuclear facilities far from its borders — really unable to defend its borders without shooting civilians? Does a defense industry that rakes in billions of dollars from the export of nonlethal crowd dispersal equipment not make it available to the Israeli security forces? If it does, did the commanders in the field exhaust such riot control measures before ordering the snipers to fire? One such crowd management weapon is an infrasonic device that emits inaudible ear-piercing frequencies. Israel used it to disperse a 2011 demonstration by Palestinians in the West Bank without incurring casualties. A senior official described the device as "a highly effective nonlethal means that uses frequencies humans cannot bear for long, is very easy to operate and doesn’t cause long-term damage."Israel has handled numerous protests, some violent, in its 70-year history, including by ultra-Orthodox Jews, social activists, people with disabilities, settlers and others. Major transportation arteries were blocked, the gates to the Knesset were stormed and police officers were injured. Only the October 2000 rioting in the Galilee and central Israel resulted in civilian deaths. All 13 victims shot dead by Israeli snipers were Arabs — 12 Israeli citizens and one Palestinian. Those clashes also occurred in the midst of an Israeli holiday celebration — Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.At that time in 2000, I remember calling the home of Shlomo Ben-Ami, then minister of public security in the Labor-led government of Ehud Barak, to ask about the conduct of the police. "I cannot allow main traffic arteries to be blocked during the holiday," he told me. That explanation did not satisfy members of the Or Commission, established by the government to investigate the deadly events. Its report concluded that authorities had failed to impress on the police the need to avoid casualties among the rioters to the extent possible and disqualified Ben-Ami from serving as minister of public security.In a special report about the Mavi Marmara affair, issued in 2012 by the state comptroller, the government watchdog wrote that the decision-making process had been flawed, discussions leading up to it were hastily conducted and superficial, and no preparations were made for the worst-case scenario of a violent clash with flotilla participants. The comptroller noted that although Netanyahu understood the highly unusual nature of the flotilla affair and was personally involved in preparing for it, he underestimated the threat of deaths and injuries should Israel forcibly act to halt the protest.Prior to last week’s clashes on the Gaza border, Israeli security officials had warned of deaths and injuries if Palestinian protesters stormed the fence. Members of the government’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Cabinet were warned repeatedly over the past year that Hamas would exploit the growing despair among Gaza’s 2 million residents to foment action against Israel. Netanyahu preferred to deploy snipers along the border. Minister of Transportation and Intelligence Affairs Yisrael Katz has been trying for several years to push through construction of an island seaport off the Gaza coast to provide residents with controlled humanitarian and commercial access to the outside world, without risking Israel’s security.Has the prime minister not realized that forcibly keeping the lid on the pressure cooker that is the world’s most crowded piece of land will lead to the deaths of more and more civilians? Does he lose sleep over civilian deaths?As far as the leadership of the opposition goes, Netanyahu can rest assured. The only thing Zionist Camp Chair Yoel Hasson had to say about the killing of civilians across the border fence was, "There’s nothing to investigate and nothing to examine; the IDF is doing what needs doing to protect Israel’s Gaza border communities." He tweeted his comments in response to Zandberg’s call for an inquiry into the shooting of civilians. In addition, Netanyahu will always have Yair Lapid, the chair of the centrist opposition Yesh Atid and the self-appointed foreign minister who goes around the world saying that all the Palestinians have to do for Israel to lift its blockade is "to stop trying to kill Jews."(3) Israelis deny Massacre In Gaza Israelis Hear When You Say There Was A ‘Massacre’ In GazaShoshanna Keats Jaskoll    April 3, 2018Living in Israel, it has been a surreal experience watching the international community’s response to the riots on the Gaza border. It is as though context, history, identity, and motive don’t matter.This apathy would be unthinkable in any other context and any other country. Imagine the mobilization of 30,000 people on your border, less than a mile from the nearest homes. Imagine if these tens of thousands of people were amassing on a border which terror organizations have spent years tunneling under for the express purpose of murdering your citizens, tunnels that have already been used to murder and kidnap your people.It’s terrifying. And while we Israelis know our country will defend us, it’s painful to watch as the international community plays directly into the hands of Hamas, calling Israel’s response to molotov cocktails and attempted infiltrations "disproportionate" and "a massacre" of "peaceful protestors."It started with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, himself in the midst of an offensive on the city of Afrin. Nevertheless, he had the gall to "strongly condemn the Israeli government over its inhumane attack" in a speech in Istanbul. He called Israel’s response to Friday’s protest a "massacre" — a term many others have used on social media in the ensuing days.Erdogan was not alone. From Bernie Sanders to the Editorial Board of the New York Times, the situation was discussed in such one-sided and whitewashed terms that anyone reading would be justified in thinking that Israel was enacting its own Tiananmen Square, mowing down thousands of innocent protesters."The killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces in Gaza is tragic," tweeted Bernie Sanders. "It is the right of all people to protest for a better future without a violent response."Of course, the right to protest should belong to all people. But this was not that. It was a protest organized by Hamas, which the United States has deemed a terrorist organization. And eleven of 16 people killed were known militants.Despite Hamas’s attempts to brand it as such, this demonstration was not one of Gazan civilians seeking to peacefully protest for a better life. We know this because, even within Gaza, Gaza’s residents aren’t allowed to assemble and protest without Hamas’s permission.The truth of the matter is that there is no democracy in Gaza. If there were, Gazans might demonstrate for all sorts of things they lack. They might ask for adequate sewage facilities, for civil liberties, and religious freedoms. They might ask for Hamas to cease calling for Israel’s destruction and demand that instead of purchasing rockets and building tunnels, Hamas create infrastructure and enter into a peace agreement with Israel. After all, it is Hamas’s refusal to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and its failure to commit to non-aggression that created the blockade in the first place.Instead, Gaza’s people are ruled by Hamas’s iron thumb, which in this case, instructed people to protest at the Israeli border.And because it was a protest organized by our militant enemies, it was not non-violent. 30,000 people amassing at a border fence, burning tires, throwing molotov cocktails and attempting to infiltrate into Israel is not a peaceful protest.I am not a military analyst. Nor do I have experience in riot control. I do know the soldiers of the IDF. They are our fathers, daughters and sons. The IDF has no desire to be in Gaza?. It’s why we left in the first place. I do know that in a mass protest with violent rioting, only 16 men were killed and 11 of them are identified as members of terror organizations. I know that two were armed with AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades, and opened fire on Israeli soldiers and attempted to breach the security fence, clearly putting the lie to the notion that this ?was? a "massacre" or indiscriminate and wanton killing. IDF spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis ?says that the IDF will conduct investigations into ?every death and I believe they will do so.I also believe that if this were happening a mile away from citizens in your country, you would not be so complacent. And yet, when it comes to Israel killing terrorists who try to attack us, it’s called a "massacre." Meanwhile, the actual slaughter of civilians across Israel’s other border by the Syrians and Turks goes ignored."Palestinians in Gaza are among the world’s most desperate people," writes the Editorial Board of the New York Times. "For more than a decade, their 140-square-mile strip has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt, sharply restricting the flow of goods and people."How can an article that begins with the blockade of Gaza not discuss why there is a blockade in the first place? The borders of both Egypt and Israel closed to the Gaza Strip when Hamas seized control there. They will remain so until Hamas recognizes Israel’s right to exist and agrees to refrain from terror. How is it that out of 800 words given to us by the NYT, it isn’t until word 640 that we read anything about the failure of Palestinian leadership? To lament unemployment yet not discuss foreign aid gone to terror instead of infrastructure, to discuss the closure yet not mention attempted infiltrations, terror tunnels and the thousands of rockets sent into our cities, is blatant deception.And where is the accuracy in journalism when news agencies repeat claims straight from Hamas, which controls the Gaza Ministry of Health? Hamas knows the media is waiting for proof of Israel’s evil, that eager journalists and activists do not question the accuracy of films fed to them.Hamas cannot win against Israel on the battlefield, but it certainly crushes Israel on the world stage where clips, sound bites, and images of death create public opinion that is long on emotion and short on fact.Hamas is the entity people should blame when they lament the fate of Gaza. Gaza could — and should — be a Middle Eastern Riviera. Its beaches should be a favored vacation spot, Gaza City a cosmopolitan tourist destination. International aid abounds, yet Hamas leaves its people unemployed, cities and facilities undeveloped — and no one asks why. No one holds Hamas accountable.It is not Israel that prevents this, but Hamas’s insistence that Gaza be the bloodied sacrifice on the altar of greater Palestine. According to Israel, Hamas spent $15M to organize this riot, bussing thousands of people to the border.The people of Gaza deserve better. They deserve to live their lives free of Hamas. They deserve a leadership that cares for their welfare, not one that uses them as human shields.The people of Israel deserve better. We deserve secure borders and an international community that uses reason, fact, and rational discourse when judging the situation.Because at night, when you turn off your computer, done with the news for the day, we are still here — the Israelis and the Palestinians on both sides of the border. Falling into the hands of Hamas’s PR machine will not bring justice or peace. It will simply strengthen the conflict.Shoshanna Keats-Jaskoll is the co-founder of Chochmat Nashim, an Israeli NGO dedicated to battling extremism and raising the voice of women in the Jewish conversation. Follow her on Twitter, @skjask.(4) Killing Palestinian protesters turns into a PR debacle for Israel Weiss on April 2, 2018Something has shifted in the discourse of Israel since the Friday killings of 17 Palestinian protesters in Gaza, many of them plainly unarmed, by Israeli snipers from across a security fence: the hasbara– Israeli propaganda– is not working.The country has plainly done something indefensible. The usual defenders are silent, and the criticism from the left/center is stronger than ever. Senator Bernie Sanders’s sharp criticism is actually leading the U.S. discussion of the event.Ori Nir of Americans for Peace Now captures the moment, tweeting in Hebrew (roughly translated):"National Public Radio" Morning Edition, the United States’s largest radio network, opened its news: Israel says it will not investigate the circumstances of the 15 Gaza residents killed on Friday’s clashes. Another propaganda achievement of the government whose army is the most moral in the world."A pro-Palestinian narrative" is dominating international media, The Times of Israel reports; and fingers are being pointed throughout the Israeli government about who allowed Israel to be led into this PR "trap" by Palestinians. Michael Oren who can spin anything can’t spin this one.Michael Oren, for one, the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office who is responsible for diplomacy, said Israel was patently unprepared for the crisis on the diplomatic and media battlefield, and that the word he was getting from abroad was that the Israeli narrative is losing "big time" to the Palestinian narrative.A crisis indeed. Usually-vehement Israel defenders in the U.S. are keeping quiet. They surely hope this will blow over. Bill Kristol has nothing to say about the killings. Neither does the voluble Bret Stephens. Jennifer Rubin has been silent on twitter.The liberal Zionist group Ameinu sent out a Passover greeting today with talk of the African refugees, but not a word about the killings. As for J Street– bupkus on twitter. Nothing on the blog either.Jacob Magid of the Times of Israel dismisses the effort by the Israeli government to justify the killings by saying the army identified 10 of the 15 killed as "Hamas activists." As if "this in and of itself was enough a reason to shoot them dead," he said.If the IDF wants to put out a statement saying the men were in the middle of carrying out an attack when soldiers engaged, that’s one thing but saying they were "Hamas activists" means littleThe Republican Jewish Coalition is also reduced to slinging pathetic, patently-false story-lines. It tweets:Gaza March Used Civilian (Including Children) Human Shields to Trap IsraelWhile AIPAC tweets an article by David Horovitz in the Times of Israel that brims with Israeli paranoia:Gaza’s terrorist rulers make no secret of their agenda. They are out to destroy Israel. Suicide bombers, rockets, and tunnels have failed. So now it’s mass marches on the border.It is a sign of the discourse shifting that the Republican Jewish Coalition is now fastened on–Bernie Sanders.Violent, militarized "protesters" were attempting to cross the Gaza border fence, but @SenSanders would have the Israeli’s sit back and take it. That isn’t leadership, it’s cowardice.You’d think Sanders would be beyond the pale But no, the moral leader of the left in the U.S. is at center stage. Sanders took a little while to condemn the killings, but he has been extremely strong. Here is Ynet’s report:Sanders attacked Israel on Saturday with a tweet, saying, "The killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces in Gaza is tragic. It is the right of all people to protest for a better future without a violent response."In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Sanders was asked if he accepted Israel’s version that most of the Palestinian dead were terrorists who directed attacks against Israel under the cover of protesters."No, I don’t," Sanders responded. "My understanding is you have tens of thousands of people who were engaged in a non-violent protest. I believe now 15 or 20 people, Palestinians, have been killed, and many many others have been wounded. So I think it’s a difficult situation, but my assessment is that Israel overreacted on that.Yet more evidence of the fact that Israel is getting thrashed in the international response is, the New York Times op-ed page has had nothing to say about these atrocities, while a Washington Post foreign affairs writer, Ishaan Tharoor, is condemning them outright: "For Israel, there’s little political cost to killing Palestinians."Tharoor’s article is clear about the moral outrage here, and about the reason, Israel’s impunity."These are the predictable outcomes of a manifestly illegal command: Israeli soldiers shooting live ammunition at unarmed Palestinian protesters," said Amit Gilutz, a spokesman for B’Tselem, a Jerusalem-based leftist organization that monitors human rights abuses in the occupied territories. "What is predictable, too, is that no one — from the snipers on the ground to top officials whose policies have turned Gaza into a giant prison — is likely to be ever held accountable."The Israeli leadership had reason to feel comfortable in its defiance. The most vocal criticism from abroad came from Iran and Turkey; censure from either country is more likely a source of relish for Netanyahu than unease. And at the United Nations, the Trump administration blocked the Security Council from issuing a statement that called for an "independent and transparent investigation" and affirmed the Palestinians’ right to peaceful protest.Tharoor links to Eric Umansky, deputy managing editor of Pro Publica, who has produced a lacerating and eloquent series of tweets on the optics of the murders:1/ I know our capacity for outrage has been sapped, but the images coming from Gaza are truly shocking. 2/ Here’s a video —shared by the Washington Post—of a young man shot and killed as he was *rolling a tire away from the border* 3/ Here’s a video of a man shot as he was praying with others 4/ Israel says videos are fabricated. Except multiple videos show same thing. 5/ Here’s another young man who was shot in the head as he was watching the protests and puffing a cigarette. 6/ Sixteen Palestinians were shot to death, hundreds more wounded. You’ve heard of Bloody Sunday, right? That’s when British troops killed 14 protesters in N. Ireland. I wonder how history and we will remember Gaza, if at all. 7/ There may be plenty left to know about what happened. But Israeli officials aren’t interested in finding out. An investigation? Defense Minister Lieberman said, "There won’t be one" He said "all the soldiers deserve a medal."Finally, even mainstream Israeli figures are jumping ship. A leading radio host might be fired for saying he’s "ashamed to be Israeli." Haaretz:Top Israeli radio host Kobi Meidan has been silenced on Army Radio after posting on Facebook that he’s "ashamed to be Israeli" after 15 Gazans were shot dead during mass Gaza protests along the Israel-Gaza border last week.After talking with the media personality, Army Radio commander Shimon Elkabetz ordered the station to no longer broadcast Meidan on the air, but it remains to be seen whether temporarily or permanently.We will of course be closely monitoring the international response to the killings, including in official forums. But the media narrative is hardening, Israel went way too far. No wonder a local friend asked me yesterday, Has Israel lost its mind?Thanks to Ofer Neiman, James North, and Todd Pierce.(5) Israel's diplomatic blunder - Michael Oren We've Still Not Internalized Where The Battlefield IsForeign Ministry says it handled Gaza well. Michael Oren begs to differSpokesman says ministry took a calculated decision not to fan the flames of an event that wasn't greatly resonating. Deputy minister for diplomacy leads a despairing counter-chorusBy RAPHAEL AHREN2 April 2018, 4:37 pmAs news about Friday’s violent clashes at the Gaza border fades somewhat from international headlines — before a likely revived focus with the next major Gaza protest slated for Friday — Israeli officials and pundits are arguing over the government’s public diplomatic response to the first iteration of the so-called March of Return.The Foreign Ministry insists that the situation was expertly handled and entirely under control, arguing that several dozen spokespeople across Europe and America worked diligently to put out Israel’s message and respond to Palestinian claims in the press as deemed appropriate. Several current and former officials dealing with Israeli public diplomacy — in the local parlance, hasbara — however, are highly critical of Jerusalem’s response to the march, bemoaning the fact that Israeli public diplomacy has evidently learned very little from previous military altercations and tripped woefully unprepared into a Hamas-laid trap it should have seen coming.Michael Oren, for one, the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office who is responsible for diplomacy, said Israel was patently unprepared for the crisis on the diplomatic and media battlefield, and that the word he was getting from abroad was that the Israeli narrative is losing "big time" to the Palestinian narrative.The Foreign Ministry’s approach was guided by the real-time assessment on Friday and Saturday that the Palestinian effort to get the world’s attention to focus on the Gaza protests "failed to take off," said Ohad Kaynar, a spokesperson for the ministry.This assessment, in turn, led the Foreign Ministry, in coordination with other Israeli public diplomacy officials, to minimize their response lest Israel "fan the flames" of a news event that had otherwise garnered surprisingly little global interest, he said.We didn’t want to pour fire on a flame that was burning low"We monitored the various hashtags on social media and articles in the media, and determined that Hamas is failing," Kaynar said. "We didn’t want to pour fire on a flame that was burning low."Kaynar was the only Foreign Ministry spokesperson on active duty during the weekend’s event, when Israeli forces killed 15 Palestinians in the course of riots at the Gaza border, most of whom the army says were members of terrorist groups. The ministry’s chief spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, is currently on vacation. Another ministry spokesman was abroad for other reasons. During Jewish holidays, the ministry is usually closed.Absences and holidays notwithstanding, Israel’s public diplomacy response to the march was fully coordinated between the army, the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, Kaynar insisted, citing "thousands of WhatsApp messages" discussing the appropriate course of action.Having determined that events were getting relatively little media exposure, it was decided to deploy a limited number of spokespeople — including Netanyahu’s media adviser David Keyes and Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev — to various television studios so as not to give more oxygen to a story that was slowly dying, he said.Israeli officials were more active on the government’s 600 social media channels, Kaynar added. They monitored the number and relative success of hashtags on Twitter as well as minutes and seconds of airtime Palestinian and Israeli speakers were granted on global news networks, he said.In stark contrast to the ministry’s firmly upbeat assessment, Deputy Minister Oren declared bitterly that "Israel’s public diplomacy wasn’t ready." Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the US, lamented: "It always goes wrong. We don’t lay the groundwork, we don’t prepare the media about what’s about to happen.""The diplomatic field was on vacation," lamented a recently retired senior official involved in Israeli hasbara who asked not to be named. "Things always seem to happen on Shabbat, and they always seem to be slow to pick up the diplomatic thing."A former diplomat, who also asked for his name to be withheld because he didn’t want to offend former colleagues, carped that Israel has learned nothing from previous crises."In September of 2000, we were caught unprepared when the Second Intifada broke out on Rosh Hashanah," he recalled. Images of Palestinian suffering were broadcast around the globe, with no one from the Israeli side available to speak because everyone was off."Conclusions should have been drawn since then, but it didn’t happen," the former diplomat said. "If you know some big military operation is going happen, you have to make sure people are ready to comment. But again, this didn’t happen this week, because everybody was home celebrating Passover."Was the IDF much better than the Foreign Ministry?On an operational level, the army’s response to the Gaza protests was deemed a success — certainly by the military itself, the security establishment and the government. But several veteran members of its spokesperson unit this week privately complained about the poor performance of Lt. Col. Oron Mincha, who stammered his way through an interview with France 24.The head of the IDF Spokesperson’s international desk, Jonathan Conricus, is currently abroad on a long-planned Passover vacation.Over the weekend, the army hastily asked some experienced former spokespeople to help out with briefings and interviews. Some happily obliged but said they were contacted only after a pro-Palestinian narrative had already been established in the media. Others were unable to accommodate the army’s request on such short notice."Everything should be coordinated in advance between the Foreign Ministry and the IDF and other spokespeople," Yigal Palmor, a former spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said. "But it is essential for the upper echelons to remember that communications and image are not something you deal with after an event or in the course of an event, but something you have to take into account in the early stages of planning."MK Oren said he publicly warned of Israel not being properly prepared to defend its good name during the inevitable next round of violence. He decried the fact that his office has neither the budget not the authority to launch a more effective hasbara effort.We spend a lot of arms to defend ourselves. What are we doing to defend our right to defend ourselves?Oren, who in recent days gave interviews with media in the UK, Germany, the US and elsewhere, said he does not question the Foreign Ministry’s assessment that the crisis was low-key and therefore did not require sending more talking heads into TV studios."But I am on the receiving end of the international press. And what I am getting is that our narrative is losing big time to [the Palestinian] narrative," he said.The solution to Israel’s PR problem is not sending more spokespeople to give interviews in crisis situations, but to train them to deliver a "very calibrated message," said Oren."The first point we have to make is that Hamas is a terrorist organizations. This is not getting through. We have to hammer it in," he said.Fault for the government’s poor public diplomacy performance this week does not necessarily lie with the IDF Spokesperson, the Foreign Ministry or even with the National Information Directorate, a body within the Prime Minister’s Office tasked with coordinating the state’s advocacy efforts, he went on.The mindset that led to it is decades old, he posited. Part of the problem with public relations is that many Israelis no longer believe that it is even worth trying to convince the Western media of the righteousness of their cause, Oren said."We as a society have not decided that this worth an effort. Many think that it’s too late. And there is a case to be made for that. But I think at the very least what we have to do is try much harder."If Israel’s good name is important, then the country needs to make its defense a national priority and the National Information Directorate should be given "millions of dollars" to wage an international campaign, he urged."We spend a lot of arms to defend ourselves. What are we doing to defend our right to defend ourselves?" he asked."We have not internalized that the 21th century battlefield is as much if not more on computer screens and televisions screens than it is on the actual battlefield," he said.Hamas wants Israelis to shoot Palestinian civilians, said Oren, because its goal is not necessarily to breach the Gaza border fence but mostly to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world."Now, we have to do what we have to do to defend ourselves. I’m not saying that we have to change what the army is doing," Oren said. "But we do have to change the way we explain what the army is doing."(6) Palestinian Authority calls for international inquiry over Gazan Deaths Calls For International Probe Of Gazan Deaths.IDF asserted Palestinian protesters attacked Israeli soldiers with Molotov cocktails, rocks.BY ADAM RASGONAPRIL 4, 2018 02:03The Palestinian Authority has called for an international investigation into the IDF’s use of force against Gazans on the border with Israel last Friday, the Wafa news site reported on Tuesday.Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza took part in the first day of a planned six-week protest to support the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their former homes in Israel.Security forces killed at least 15 protesters on Friday, including 10 people who the IDF said belonged to armed groups in Gaza. The IDF asserted that many protesters threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at its soldiers, opened fire on them, attempted to infiltrate Israel and set tires on fire. Videos shared on Facebook and Twitter appear to show some protesters participating in violent actions, while several others did not.However, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said in a statement on Friday that Israel opened fire on "unarmed civilians" and violated international legal obligations to distinguish between civilians and combatants.Videos shared on Twitter and Facebook appeared to show soldiers shooting at Palestinians who did not present an imminent threat to their lives.IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said on Monday that the army had made some mistakes, which it intends to investigate, according to the Associated Press. Earlier in the week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told Army Radio that there will be no "commission of inquiry."Separately, PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with newly appointed Egyptian General Intelligence Services chief Abbas Kamil in Ramallah on Tuesday.Kamil conveyed an "important message" from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Abbas, Wafa reported, without elaborating.Egypt has recently been placing pressure on Abbas not to move forward with cuts to budgets allocated to Gaza, according to two Palestinian sources who spoke to The Jerusalem Post.In a fiery speech last month, Abbas hinted that he was about to cut all budgets allocated to the Gaza Strip if the PA does not take full control of the coastal enclave."If everything is in our hands, we will take full responsibility [for Gaza]. But if everything is not in our hands, [Hamas] will bear full responsibility for everything [in Gaza]," he said.Hamas has controlled Gaza since ousting the Fatah-dominated PA from the territory in 2007.-- Peter Myerswebsite: