In this episode of Head to Head, Mehdi Hasan challenges Danny Ayalon on whether Israel is responsible for the recent killings of Palestinians following months of protests along the Gaza fence. 

Formerly a deputy foreign minister to Israel and ambassador to the United States, Ayalon has been a key player and trusted adviser in Israel's foreign policy for more than two decades. 

They [Hamas] are sending them to die. It's a culture of death.

Danny Ayalon

He has been a political adviser to three prime ministers - Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak and, most recently, Benjamin Netanyahu.

As the region marks the 70th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel through the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in what is referred to as the Nakba, or "catastrophe", we challenge him on whether Israel's shooting of Palestinian protesters is moral or legal. 

We also examine whether Iran is more or less of a threat since the US withdrew from the nuclear deal and if Netanyahu is undermining Israel's democracy by attempting to curtail civil rights and pushing the country to the far right.

We are joined by a panel of three experts:

  • Avi Shlaim, renowned Israeli-British historian and emeritus professor at Oxford University.

  • Paul Charney, chairman of the UK Zionist Federation.

  • Diana Buttu, Israeli-Palestinian lawyer and former adviser to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.

Editor's note: Since the recording of this programme, an investigation by Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem concluded that Israeli security forces "deliberately killed" Palestinian paramedic Razan al-Najjar at a protest along the Gaza fence. The episode was also recorded just before Knesset passed the controversial "Jewish nation-state" law on July 19, and before the killing of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian gunmen on July 20.

Gaza Killings: Who is to blame? with Danny Ayalon will be broadcast on July 20 at 20:00 GMT and will be repeated on July 21 at 12:00 GMT, July 22 at 01:00 GMT and July 22 at 06:00 GMT.

Head to Head is Al Jazeera's forum for ideas, a gladiatorial contest tackling big issues in front of an opinionated audience at the Oxford Union.

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Watch previous Head to Head shows here.

Source: Al Jazeera News