A newspaper in the Netherlands has come under fire for publishing a cartoon depicting an Israeli soldier shooting masses of Palestinians on the Gaza border in celebration of the Jewish state’s 70th Independence Day, which was marked on Thursday.
The cartoon, published in Volkskrant, a major Dutch paper, depicts an IDF soldier wearing sunglasses and adorned with a Star of David on his back. Having put a frightened-looking unarmed Palestinian against a wall, he fires a barrage of bullets to spell out “Happy birthday to me” — passing across the Palestinian’s chest along the way.
Bodies of what seems to be other protesters lie nearby, next to what could be seen as a pile of bodies of slaughtered demonstrators who participated in the weekly “March of Return” mass rallies organized by Hamas, the terror group which runs the Gaza Strip.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Monday slammed the cartoon as “outrageous” and anti-Semitic, saying it depicted Israel as a “murderous bully celebrating its 70th birthday by gunning down defenseless Palestinians at the Gaza border.” It denounced the fact that it did not criticize Hamas for its “cynical abuse of civilians.”
Some 3,000 Palestinians protested along the Gaza border with Israel on Friday in the fourth round of the mass border protests during which 40 people were killed by IDF fire according to Hamas-run medical sources. The numbers could not be verified by Israel. Protesters burned tires and flew flaming kites across the frontier to set Israeli fields ablaze, witnesses and the army said.
Israel accuses Hamas of using civilian shields, including women and children, as cover for carrying out attacks along the border.
“For the last month, Hamas has deployed the people of Gaza, including terrorists, at the Israeli border in what it labeled as peaceful protests, but in reality, they included firebombs, kites affixed with explosives,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Jewish NGO’s associate dean and director of global social action.
The kites are part of a new tactic aimed at setting fields on the Israeli side on fire. Most kites were stitched together in the colors of the Palestinian flag and sent flying over the border fence. One white kite bore a swastika.
“Instead of condemning Hamas for its pernicious and cynical abuse of civilians, the cartoon demonizes the Jewish state and her soldiers as blood-thirsty murderers celebrating Israel’s 70th birthday,” he added.
“The outrageous imagery deployed in this cartoon will only further encourage Hamas to continue its terrorist and criminal actions, while validating anti-Semitism in Holland and beyond by associating the Jewish Star of David with the killing of innocents,” Rabbi Cooper concluded.
Hamas has acknowledged that several of those killed in recent weeks were its members, and Israel has identified other fatalities as members of terrorist groups.
The Palestinian Authority said Friday it would ask the UN Human Rights Council to establish a commission to carry out an independent investigation of the Israeli military’s killing and wounding of Palestinians during the protests in Gaza.
The National Forum for the March of Return, one of several Palestinian groups behind the weekly demonstrations, explained that their goal was to “affirm our right to return” — a reference to the Palestinian demand that Israel allow tens of thousands of refugees and their millions of descendants to “return” to homes and lands inside Israel which they left or were forced from during Israel’s 1948 Independence War.
Israeli governments have rejected the notion of a mass “right of return” for Palestinians into the borders of the State of Israel, arguing that an influx of millions Palestinians would spell the end of the Jewish nation-state. Israel has called for Palestinian refugees to be absorbed into a future Palestinian state, just as Israel took in hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing Arab nations in the Middle East and North Africa.
Of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who left or were forced out of Israel when the country was established, a figure estimated in the low tens of thousands are still believed to be alive. But their descendants, considered refugees under the unique designation afforded by the UN to Palestinians, number in the millions.