“Israel sees Palestinian life as cheap and any form of Palestinian protest as illegitimate,” the head of the Joint List charged in an interview on Monday, April 2. MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), speaking on Channel 10’s morning program about the previous Friday’s massacre along the Gaza border, said, “Look at how most of the Israeli public views those people killed only three days ago. That is contempt for human life.”

He alleged there is no form of Palestinian protest that is considered acceptable by Israel:  “If it is with weapons it is illegitimate. And if it is without weapons it is also illegitimate,” he lamented. The lawmaker denied Israeli claims that Hamas was behind the demonstration, saying the latter group had simply joined it along with various other Palestinian organizations.

“The army has drawn up this imaginary line and whoever crosses it –  kill them. Period. Is that the only way to address this matter?” MK Odeh also said Israel, which control’s Gaza’s border and coast, was ultimately responsible for Gazans’ desperation. “They closed Gaza, threw the key into the sea and said ‘We’re not responsible.’”

Odeh warned that Israel could not expect quiet in the coastal enclave before comprehensive peace was achieved. He said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was a pragmatic leader who sought peace but was met with Israeli right-wing intransigence.

Odeh was challenged by the hosts of the show on his claim that the protests on the Gaza border were peaceful and said that the only solution was peace talks leading to a two-state solution.

Reaction to the deadly military’s response to the Palestinian demonstrations on Friday was split across Israel’s political spectrum with most Zionist factions – including opposition parties – expressing support for the military while the Hadash, the Communist Party, Meretz and the Joint List in the Knesset condemned the military’s use of massive lethal force and demanded an investigation into the army’s response.

Avi Gabbay of the opposition Zionist Union said he had “no doubt our soldiers did everything to reduce the number of casualties,” while Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said he was “proud” of Israel’s soldiers.

On Sunday, Odeh’s party, Hadash, issued a statement on Friday’s killings of 17 Palestinians in Gaza, saying, “The gunfire against the protesters again proves that Israel chooses a path of force and deliberate violence. All nations that have been under occupation fought against their occupiers, and the Palestinian nation is like any other nation.”

The Friday protests kicked off an anticipated six weeks of demonstrations, set to climax on May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence –  a day Palestinians mark as the Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic) –  and towards which the United States will cut the ribbon on its controversial new embassy in Jerusalem.

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Communist Party of Israel