On March 21, 1960, what today in South Africa is known as Human Rights Day, the Apartheid police massacred 69 people injuring over 180 in a peaceful protest against Apartheid pass laws (which required black South Africans to carry passbooks with them any time they traveled out of their designated home areas), including women, children and the elderly.
This quickly made international news. Humphrey Tyler, an assistant editor at Drum magazine who was white, described the demonstration as peaceful and little threat to the officers’ safety. He wrote: “We heard the chatter of a machine gun, then another, then another. Bodies were falling. Hundreds of children were running. Some of the children were shot, too. Still the shooting went on.”
Of course, the Apartheid propaganda apparatus was quick to change the narrative, with subtle reporting like “Bantu clashes with police”, “Police respond to hostile bantu crowd”. Police Commander of Sharpeville, D H Pienaar said: “It started when hordes of natives surrounding the police station. If they do these things, they must learn their lessons the hard way” he further said “the Native mentality does not allow them to gather for a peaceful demonstration. For them to gather means violence.”
The prime minister at the time, Hendrick Verwoerd with a desperate attempt to justify the horrific acts told the House of Assembly that “Stones rained on the police and the mob advanced on them. Colonel Pienaar then gave orders for the police to load. At that moment three shots were fired at the police from within the Bantu crowd. The shouting crowd advanced and the police fired a volley with Sten guns and 303s without an order having been given to fire.”
The similarities between South Africa and Israel defense of using lethal weapons against peaceful protest and trying to spin it are outstanding.
Palestinians in the Gaza strip have been demonstrating against the Israeli military blockade and the return of all Palestinian refugees expelled in 1948 at the border of Gaza and Israel. Israel controls the land border, air space and sea of the besieged Palestinian Gaza strip, Israel decides what gets in and out of Gaza, including food, drinkable water, medical equipment and electricity among essential human needs. The protest started on March the 30th and have been ongoing for every Friday, until the 15th of May.
Israeli military forces have responded the only way they know how, with live ammunition against Palestinians who pose no imminent threat to the military of Israel or its inhabitants. To this day 34 Palestinians in the coastal enclave have been killed by Israeli forces, with more than 2,000 injured. The list includes journalist Yaser Murtaja (30) who was killed by an Israeli sniper while wearing navy-blue flak vest clearly marked ‘PRESS’ in large black capital letters.
Senior Israeli Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy reported the day after the first demonstration on the 1 of April that “By nightfall the body count had reached at least 15, all of them by live fire, with more than 750 wounded. Tanks and sharpshooters against unarmed civilians. That’s called a massacre. There’s no other word for it.’
Just like South Africa’s Apartheid forces at the time, Israeli’s propaganda narrative is failing dismally. Ronen Manelis, the spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said, “it was not a nonviolent protest. It was an organized act of terror using civilians as a cover”. He continues to say “I don’t know why people call this a protest. It’s terror”. Manelis like Pienaar do not believe the indigenous people can be peaceful or non-violent, they are the despised natives, sub human who at all cost must be kept under control. They expect the oppressed to be obedient always and if this is not the case, they immediately assume rebellion and employ forceful tactics. This is due to the racist and dehumanization prejudice of white people the world over to those who happen to have a different skin color, it is underpinned by the hatred, fear and contempt.
It is increasingly getting difficult for Israel and its lobby to defend its racist lethal response to peaceful demonstration like it was in South Africa. The Israeli propaganda and its lobby can continue with their escapades to cover and compromise the truth. But the world is watching, the world is vigilant, and justice, peace and humanity will prevail above all else.