A photo essay of homemade gas masks demonstrates the creativity and resilience of Palestinian protesters demanding their rights in Gaza.
Category Archives: Great March of Return
As the Great March of Return enters its fourth week, Nabeel Diab of the National Commission to Break the Siege of Gaza tells Mondoweiss: “The Palestinian people are eager to achieve their freedom, their independence, and their right to return to the villages where they were forced out of 70 years ago.” Diab is a member of a grassroots organization of activists who helped plan the march. He says that Israeli government claims that the protests are Hamas-led “are lies, and are defamatory statements that have no basis in reality.” Diab tells Mondoweiss: “This march is the embodiment of popular action involving children, women, and involving all the Palestinians that refuse to accept the occupation of our land.”
Eitan Bronstein Aparicio and Eleonore Merza Bronstein wonder what was so threatening about Nasreen al-Najjar that as she approached the fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, soldiers shot her. She was only carrying a flag.
“I came today for the third time, to tell the Israeli soldiers that if my grandfather was unable to return to Al-Majdal, [where the Israeli city of Ashkelon now stands] then my father will do it, and if my father fails, I will return one day” — 7-year-old Deema Abu Sharekh on the day of burning the Israeli flag at the Gaza border.
Israeli leaders have been making downright genocidal claims against Palestinians, and the rhetoric finally seems to be backfiring. Israel’s line on “defending itself from terrorists” is being rejected by the world. And the process is accelerating Israel’s delegitimization as a supposed liberal democracy.
Benjamin Netanyahu sats the protester in Gaza are “terrorist” and the IDF does “holy work.”
Haidar Eid writes from Gaza: “We have reached the conclusion that our fight on the ground through a series of marches culminating on May 15, the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, can pose a serious challenge to Israel’s system of occupation, colonization and apartheid if it is accompanied by a global campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.”
A photo of 9-year-old Mohammed Ayyash wearing a mask with an onion stalk slipped inside to protect against Israeli teargas has become one of the iconic images of Gaza’s Great March of Return. Asmaa Tayeh talks with Mohammed and his family about the protests and the child’s hope for the future. “I want to have my own playground so I can play football and basketball the whole day,” Mohammed tells Tayeh. “And I want it to be named after my new nickname, Abu Basala (the kid with an onion).”
Over the last two weeks Palestinians in Gaza have assembled in mass along the border with Israel for the “Great March of Return,” protesting against their displacement and the siege over the Strip. Here are some of the amazing photographs from the last week of the protest, including a birthday celebration for teenager Hussein Madi who was killed last Friday on his 14th birthday. Yesterday his family lit candles in memorial near the location where he was fatally wounded.
The Great March of Return began on Land Day and ends on Nakba Day. In the process it is demonstrating that each period of Palestinian dispossession is connected — it is an ongoing saga where the Nakba never ended. The protest is also showing that when Palestinians seek to make the world remember them, they are killed with impunity. Still, Jonathan Ofir says the Israeli response has exposed Israel “as the monster that it was destined to be.”
A video clip in which an Israeli sniper filmed himself shooting an unarmed Palestinian across the Gaza fence and then celebrating drew international outrage last night. The two Palestinian targets in the video appear simply to be walking around near the fence.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman justified the killing 30-year-old Yaser Murtaja by Israeli snipers even though he wore a flak jacket clearly marked PRESS. Lieberman said: “I don’t know who is and who isn’t a photographer . . . We won’t take any chances.”
On March 30th, thousands of Palestinians from across the besieged Gaza Strip launched “The Great March of Return,” to demand their right to return to their pre-1948 homelands in historic Palestine. Since then, at least 29 Palestinian protesters have been killed, including a journalist and at least two minors. In this video, Palestinians who are putting their lives on the line to join the protests in Gaza explain why they are taking such a risk.
On the second Friday of the Gaza protests yesterday, Israeli snipers shot nearly 500 Palestinians at the Gaza border, killing nine (per AP), and bringing the death total in two Fridays to 31. The international headlines feature the shootings of six Palestinian journalists, including one who was killed, 30-year-old Yasser Murtaja, even though he wore a flak jacket clearly marked PRESS.
Ahmad Kabariti reports from the second week of protests in Gaza’s Great March of Return. Israeli troops killed 10 more Palestinians but the people Kabariti spoke to were united in their goal to return to the lands their familes were displaced from during the Nakba. “I do not care about pain,” Mohammed Abu Eida tells Kabariti. “I sit here to tell them that I will go back to Jaffa with my family.”
Hamza Abu Al-Tarabeesh shares stories from the first two weeks of the Great March of Return in Gaza. Despite the fact Yousef Abu Eida, 26, was shot in the leg last Friday, he was back today using crutches and a metal brace. “I came today despite the pain to send two messages,” he tells Abu Al-Tarabeesh. “The first is that I will not give up the right of my return to my occupied town ‘Ashdod’ and another message to the Israeli sniper that we are not afraid of him.”
Last Friday’s massacre by Israel of 17 Palestinians in Gaza and the US support for the action makes it plain that it is we must throw all our weight against the unholy alliance that has made possible decades of apartheid and periodic mass murder. We can resist; we can protest; or we can be complicit. There is no such thing as neutrality, Michael Lesher writes.
Mohammed Abu Amr’s last creation on the beach in Gaza was a sand sculpture that said, “I will return.” A day later he was killed along with 16 other Palestinians demonstrating on the 42nd anniversary of Land Day. He had been planning to carve a 100-meter map of Palestine along with a huge key on the beach to coincide with upcoming anniversary of the Nakba, and his friends have completed his mission. “This sandy map was Mohammed’s uncompleted dream,” artist Osama Sbeata tells Mondoweiss.
The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem is calling on soldiers to disobey “patently illegal” shoot-to-kill orders against unarmed protesters in Gaza. The Israeli policy in Gaza has not been the result of one illegal order, but doctrine of collective punishment endorsed by the entire political and military leadership of the county. Thus, refusing orders to attack nonviolent protesters arguably amounts to a mutiny against the state. In Israel, simply following international law is a radical act.
The Israeli IDF spokesperson released photos of some of the Palestinians shot dead in Friday’s Gaza massacre, suggesting they were “terrorists” because they were affiliated with Hamas. This dubious propaganda campaign eliminates distinctions between civilians and combatants and is an incitement to state terror.
Rana Shubair set out with her husband, two children, and a collection of other relatives to join 30,000 more Palestinians who marched to the border with Israel for Gaza’s Great March of Return: “As I pondered the faces of my people there with me, one fact was clear to me more than ever: None of us had anything more valuable to lose than what we already had—our home.”
US officials have defended Israel’s massacre of civilians in Gaza as a ‘response’ to terrorism – even before it happened. And afterward, the US “sheriff”, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, again kicked her high heels, blocking a draft UN Security Council statement which called for an “independent and transparent investigation” of the violence. The only answer to official support is grassroots pressure.
Bethlehem University’s Jamil Khader writes of the Great March of Return: “The importance of the Great March of Return lies in the way it staged a raw and unmediated confrontation between the brute high-tech power of one of the most powerful armies in the world and the bare life of thousands of unarmed people in their humanity and dignity . . the message of the march reframes the right of return and freedom not only within international human rights law, but also within an emancipatory and utopian future for all.”
Ahmad Kabariti reports from the first day of the Great March of Return in Gaza where 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces. Despite the Israeli violence, there are scenes of nonviolent protest and persistence, and even a wedding. Groom Alaa Shahin tells Kabariti, “A few hundred meters away from those soldiers eyes, I emphasize my right and the whole Palestinian peoples’ right to return home after 70 years of displacement, we will not wait another 70!”
The astonishing dishonesty in the Times continues in today’s paper coverage of the Great March of Return in Gaza. The article headlined “Confrontations at Gaza Fence Leave 15 Dead,” waits until the 21st paragraph to add that another 1000 Palestinians were injured, but insinuates right away that the Gazans are to blame for starting the violence.