Middle East Inside Line: Gaza Border Death, Britain to Review Arms to Israel, Obama's Passover Message
Tension Rises on Gaza Border: A 15-year-old Palestinian, Mohammad Zeid Al Farmawi, trying to cross from Gaza into Israel was shot dead by Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday. The Palestinian news agency Ma'an said Tuesday that Al Farmawi was killed as he attempted to join demonstrations marking the 34th Land Day, commemorated annually by thousands of Israeli-Arabs. (The demonstration's aim is to protest a 1976 incident in Sakhnin, where in six Israeli Arabs were killed in clashes amidst protests against a government decision to expropriate Arab lands in the Galilee.)
Army Radio reported that the IDF had confirmed firing into the air to deter Palestinians but claimed Al Farmawi did not heed the warning.
British-Israeli Relations Strained: Despite a significant drop in British arms exports to Israel following Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, a group of British lawmakers are expected to call Tuesday for the re-evaluation of arms deals with Israel after a recently published report by the House of Commons committee on strategic export controls claiming that British weapons were "almost certainly" used in the offensive in Gaza.
British Foreign Minister David Miliband, after the operation, told the Commons that all future applications for arms-related exports to Israel "will be assessed taking into account the recent conflict".
The MPs say they welcome the government's subsequent decision to revoke five export licences for equipment destined for the Israeli navy but "broader lessons" must be learned from a review to ensure British arms exports to Israel are not used in the occupied territories in future.
Obama's Passover Message: In a statement released by the White House, President Barack Obama said:
This evening, Jewish individuals, families, and their friends in America, Israel, and around the world will gather around the Seder table to celebrate the sacred festival of Passover.
With rich symbols, rituals, and traditions, they will tell the story of the Exodus – the journey of the children of Israel from slavery to freedom, from grief to joy, from darkness to light, and from suffering to redemption.
The enduring story of the Exodus teaches us that, wherever we live, there is oppression to be fought and freedom to be won. In retelling this story from generation to generation, we are reminded of our ongoing responsibility to fight against all forms of suffering and discrimination, and we reaffirm the ties that bind us all.