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Contextualizing the Great March of Return

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In the last 10 years, Israel has launched three massive genocidal wars of aggression on the occupied Gaza Strip, many of our civilians were massacred by its indiscriminate bombing, condemned by UN experts and leading human rights organizations as war crimes and “possible” crimes against humanity. These assaults left over 3,800 Palestinians dead, predominantly civilians, of whom hundreds were children. Another 15,000 Palestinians were injured. We, the 2 million Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, the overwhelming majority of whom are refugees who were violently expelled and dispossessed from our homes by Zionist forces in 1948, were subjected to three weeks (2009), 2 weeks (2012) and 51 days (2014) of relentless Israeli state terror, whereby Israeli warplanes systematically targeted civilian areas, reduced whole neighborhoods and vital civilian infrastructure to rubble and destroyed scores of schools, including several run by UNRWA, where civilians were taking shelter. This came after years of an ongoing, crippling, deadly medieval Israeli siege of Gaza, a severe form of collective punishment described by Richrad Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights as “a prelude to genocide.”

In order to understand the mentality behind the killings of tens of civilians, including children, taking place on Gaza borders, all one has to do is read Israel’s generals and politicians’ responses. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said there were “no innocent people” in the Gaza Strip after Israeli soldiers shot and killed 32 Palestinians during 10 days of non-violent, peaceful protests of refugees demanding the implementation of UN resolution 194 which calls for their right of return and repatriation, and an end to the 11-year deadly siege. Lieberman claimed that “[e]veryone’s connected to Hamas, everyone gets a salary from Hamas.” His statement came one day before his military said in a tweet that “Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed”.

One cannot but reread a statement made by Israel’s ex-Deputy Defence Minsiter in 2008, Matan Vilnai who told Army Radio that “[Palestinians of Gaza] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”

This is a mentality driven by a bigoted ideology that does not see the humanity of the “Other,” leave alone her right to self-determination and freedom! They are “two-legged beasts,” (Menachem Begin) and “grasshoppers” that have to be crushed after all (Yitzhak Shamir).

And as if 11 years of blockade, interrupted by three genocidal wars, is not enough! The attack on Gaza is not yet over: the Palestinians of Gaza are still living with their physical, mental and emotional wounds. Their bodies cannot heal because the medicine that is required is not allowed into the Gaza Strip. Their homes cannot be rebuilt and the mangled steel and concrete cannot be removed because the trucks and bulldozers that can remove them are not allowed into the Gaza Strip. Never before has a population been denied the basic requirements for survival as a deliberate policy of colonization, occupation and apartheid, but this is what Israel is doing to us, the people of Gaza, today: 2 million people live without a secure supply of water, food, electricity, medicines, with almost half of them being children under the age of 15.

It is an “incremental genocide” of the kind unparalleled in human history.

No wonder, then, that leading anti-apartheid activists, the likes of Ronnie Kasrils, ex-South African Intelligence Minister and member of the ANC, and the late Ahmed Kathrada, an ANC leader and Robben Island inmate with Nelson Mandela, and Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmund Tutu, believe that what Israel is doing to the Palestinians is far worse than what was done to black South Africans under apartheid. Even former American President Jimmy Carter, on his visit to Gaza, stated clearly that the Palestinian people trapped in Gaza are being treated “like animals.”


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. We do need ordinary citizens of the world to show Israel that we have a common humanity; that they watch what it does and they will not tolerate it because silence is complicity; that there is no place for their kind of war mongering and barbarism in the world and that the people of the world reject it. This is exactly what the global anti-apartheid managed to do in the 1970’s and 80’s of last century until the inhumane apartheid system crumbled. It is time to stand up to the only remaining apartheid regime in the world; for that we need to be united.

Haidar Eid

Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza's al-Aqsa University. He has written widely on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including articles published at Znet, Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, and Open Democracy. He has published papers on cultural Studies and literature in a number of journals, including Nebula, Journal of American Studies in Turkey, Cultural Logic, and the Journal of Comparative Literature.

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27 Responses

  1. annie on April 12, 2018, 2:03 pm

    the clearest most concise TRUTH! thank you Haidar Eid!

    • Misterioso on April 13, 2018, 10:57 am

      Al Jazeera, April 13/18
      “Gaza protests: All the latest updates”

      “Tens of thousands of Palestinians take part in the third consecutive Friday protests near the Gaza border.”

      “Palestinians in Gaza Strip are protesting for the third Friday in a row, as part of the Great March of Return movement.

      “Since the protests began on March 30, 34 Palestinians in the coastal enclave have been killed by Israeli forces, with more than 2,000 injured.

      “Here are all the latest updates on today’s protests:

      “Since the protests began on March 30, 34 Palestinians in the coastal enclave have been killed by Israeli forces, with more than 2,000 injured.

      “Palestinian Ministry of Health says 363 protesters wounded so far. Journalists are among the injured, with Ahmad Abu Hussein shot in the chest while covering the protests in Jabaliya, northern Gaza.

      “A bullet also grazed the arm of Middle East Eye’s photographer Mohammed al-Hajjar at the same location.

      “More than 100 protesters wounded, say health officials.

      “The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that 112 protesters have been wounded by live bullets and tear gas along the Gaza Strip border.”

      • Misterioso on April 13, 2018, 11:34 am

        Amnesty International U.K.
        April 13/18

        “Israel must end ‘horrifying’ use of excessive force against Gaza protesters”

        “The Israeli authorities must put an immediate end to the excessive and lethal force being used to suppress Palestinian demonstrations in Gaza, Amnesty International said as fresh protests began today.

        “There have already been further reports of dozens of Palestinians being injured by Israeli gunfire earlier today.

        “Following the deaths of 26 Palestinians – including three children and the photojournalist Yasser Murtaja – and the injuring of at least 3,078 others during protests on the past two Fridays, Amnesty has renewed its call for independent and effective investigations into reports that Israeli soldiers unlawfully used firearms and other excessive force against unarmed protesters.

        “Eyewitness testimonies – as well as videos and photographs taken during the demonstrations – point to evidence that in some instances unarmed Palestinian protesters were shot by Israeli snipers while waving the Palestinian flag or running away from the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel.

        “Among those injured since 30 March are some 445 children, at least 21 members of the Palestinian Red Crescent’s emergency teams, and 15 journalists. According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, some 1,236 people have been hit by live ammunition. Others have been injured by rubber bullets or treated for tear gas inhalation dropped by drones. The World Health Organisation has expressed concern that nearly 350 of those injured may be temporarily or permanently disabled as a result of their injuries. So far, at least four people have had leg amputations.

        “On two consecutive Fridays, tens of thousands of Palestinians, including men, women and children, have gathered in five camps set up 700 metres away from the Gaza-Israel fence to reassert their right of return and demand an end to nearly 11 years of Israel’s blockade. While protests have been largely peaceful, a minority of protesters have thrown stones and, according to the Israeli army, Molotov cocktails in the direction of the fence. The Israeli forces claim that those killed were trying to cross the fence between Gaza and Israel or were the ‘main instigators.’ There have been no Israeli casualties.

        “While the Israeli army indicated that it would investigate the conduct of its forces during the protests in Gaza, Israel’s investigations in the past have repeatedly fallen short of international standards and have only very rarely resulted in a criminal prosecution. As a result, serious crimes against Palestinians have routinely gone unpunished.

        “Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said:
        ‘For the past two weeks, the world has watched in horror as Israeli forces unleashed excessive, deadly force against protesters, including children, who merely demand an end to Israel’s brutal policies towards Gaza and a life of dignity.

        ‘The Israeli authorities must urgently reverse their policies and abide by their international legal obligations. Their horrifying use of live ammunition against unarmed protesters, and the resultant deaths, must be investigated as possible unlawful killings.

        ‘The Israeli authorities must respect the Palestinians’ right to peaceful protest and, in the event that there is violence, use only the force necessary to address it. Under international law, lethal force can only be used when unavoidable to protect against imminent threats to life.’

        “International Criminal Court concern”

        “In a statement on 8 April, Fatou Ben Souda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, expressed concern at the deaths and injuries of Palestinians by Israeli forces, pointing out that the situation in Palestine was already under preliminary examination by her office.”

  2. DaBakr on April 12, 2018, 8:04 pm

    While Israel definitely has its own style and form of spin, the “three genocidal wars” and “vast majority” of the two million Gaza residents that were “violently expelled ” shows the palestinian narrative pushers lack nothing when it comes to the skills of hasbara that pro zionists are accused of here… And for paid wages at that.

    • smithgp on April 12, 2018, 10:36 pm

      OK DaBakr: Let’s break the news to you more gently. The “three genocidal wars” were just massacres or assaults. The majority of the 200,000 Palestinians who fled into Gaza weren’t themselves “violently expelled.” Rather, they fled into Gaza because of well-grounded fear of Zionist violence. Virtually none have been allowed to return to their homes and lands. So let’s just call them “involuntary exiles,” shall we? It isn’t the “vast majority,” it’s 71 percent of Gazans who are exiles or their descendants (200,000 Palestinians fled into Gaza to join 80,000 Palestinians who already lived there; the ratio hasn’t changed significantly since). There, DaBakr, does that make you feel better, or more secure?

      • DaBakr on April 14, 2018, 12:46 am


        barely, but it’s a start

      • Mooser on April 14, 2018, 8:28 pm

        “barely, but it’s a start”

        So you are in favor of continuing, until you find a final solution to the Palestinian problem, “Dabakr”?

  3. smithgp on April 12, 2018, 10:10 pm

    Here’s how I described the 2014 assault in an OpEd scheduled for the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune this Saturday:

    Over a span of 51 days, Israeli forces killed 2,200 people, 1,600 of them noncombatants and 550 of them children; destroyed or severely damaged 18,000 homes, displacing 100,000 people; destroyed or damaged 203 places of worship, 285 schools, and 73 medical facilities (1); and left behind 2.5 million tons of rubble (2). Scaling from Gaza’s 1.8 million people at the time, it is as if the entire U.S. population of 326 million, forcibly confined to a fenced-in reservation slightly larger than West Virginia, had suffered almost 400,000 deaths, including 100,000 children, while 3.26 million of their homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, and rubble equivalent to 290 World Trade Center attacks was left to clear (3). While Israeli forces used advanced weaponry supplied and partly paid for by the U.S., Gaza’s fighters had only small arms, mortars, and primitive rockets; they killed 67 soldiers and six civilians, one of them a child; and destroyed or damaged one Israeli home, two synagogues, one school, and no medical facilities (1).

    (1) Norman Finkelstein, Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom, University of California Press, 2018, Table 12.
    (2) Norman Finkelstein, op. cit., p. 211.
    (3) Urich, G., Analysis of the mass and potential energy of World Trade Center Tower 1, Journal of 9/11 Studies, vol. 3, 2007 (, Table 17.

    • Mayhem on April 12, 2018, 11:12 pm

      One cannot measure the entitlement of one side over the other by comparing the number of casualities.

      • annie on April 13, 2018, 7:47 am


      • eljay on April 13, 2018, 8:02 am

        || Mayhem: One cannot measure the entitlement of one side over the other by comparing the number of casualities. ||

        I agree: Zionists should stop (ab)using the Holocaust as a measure of Jewish entitlement to geographic Palestine.

      • smithgp on April 13, 2018, 9:25 am

        Point taken, Mayhem. Czech partisans assassinated Reinhard Heydrich. The Nazis demolished the village of Lidice, killing 199 men, deporting 195 women to Ravensbrück, and sending 81 children to the gas vans at the Chelmno death camp. They then shot 33 adults in Ležáky and burned down the village. Even Steven.

      • Mooser on April 13, 2018, 2:01 pm

        “One cannot measure the entitlement of one side over the other by comparing the number of casualities.”

        Certainly not on a one-to-one basis!

      • Mayhem on April 13, 2018, 10:31 pm

        World War 2:
        Americans lost 405,000
        Germany 6,600,000-8,800,000
        so according to these figures Robbins would have backed Germany over the US,

      • Emory Riddle on April 14, 2018, 7:34 am

        You got to admit that it’s hard to present yourself as the victim when you do 95% of the killing.

      • smithgp on April 14, 2018, 5:27 pm


        You picked a singularly unconvincing example. True, the U.S. didn’t suffer nearly as many deaths, either military or civilian, as the Reich. But the main combatant on the Allied side was the Soviet Union, who suffered 10.6 million military deaths, 10 million civilian deaths due to war and crimes against humanity, and 6 million deaths due to war-caused famine and disease. And you have no right to compel Annie Robbins or anyone else to choose a side in that bestial conflict, in which “our” side was guilty of grisly crimes against non-combatants, such as the firebombing of Tokyo and Dresden. Like most (but I guess not all) readers of this website, I’m on the side of NOT using up-to-date U.S.-made engines of death and destruction to assault a captive people with no means of defending themselves as retribution for resisting their captivity.

      • Mayhem on April 14, 2018, 6:31 pm

        @George, you clearly don’t get it.
        Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar vows to ‘breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa’ and ‘We Will Tear Out Their Hearts’.
        These are unambiguously the words of a warmonger and in the circumstances Israel is entitled to resist with all the force necessary to quell those whose fundamental intention is to destroy it.
        Change the language, change the education system, introduce freedoms and democracy, stop the wasteful expenditures on militarisation and the digging of attack tunnels, renounce terrorism and accept Israel’s well-established right to exist as a Jewish state and the situation will change for the better for the people of Gaza, who are captive to a bloody-minded leadership which exploits its people as political pawns.

      • Mooser on April 14, 2018, 8:20 pm

        They have no guns, “Mayhem”. Hard to “invade” with no guns.

      • eljay on April 14, 2018, 8:25 pm

        || Mayhem: … Israel’s well-established right to exist as a Jewish state … ||

        Israel has no right – “well-established” or otherwise – to exist as a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”. No state has a right to exist as supremacist state of any kind.

      • RoHa on April 14, 2018, 9:34 pm

        “No state has a right to exist as supremacist state of any kind.”

        I am not convinced that any state has a right to exist.

      • eljay on April 14, 2018, 9:47 pm

        || RoHa: … I am not convinced that any state has a right to exist. ||

        I am not convinced that the human race has a right to exist (or that it even deserves to exist), but I’m all for making the best of a bad situation. :-)

      • oldgeezer on April 15, 2018, 12:44 am


        Sadly I must say I agree. The dinosaurs at least had an external cause for their demise while we seem to either be quite intent on our own or at best no better than lemmings running over the cliff. I think we have too high an opinion of ourselves and some of us considers themselves even higher.

      • oldgeezer on April 15, 2018, 12:45 am


        Every word you spout applies to Israel. Not the Palestinians.

      • RoHa on April 15, 2018, 5:02 am

        “The dinosaurs had an external cause for their demise”


  4. on April 12, 2018, 10:35 pm

    Thank you Haidar for your courage and for sharing your thoughts. The truth about Zionism and the atrocities committed by it’s members is getting more and more press resulting in more and more Palestinian supporters.

    The desperation of the Zionists can be gleaned from the comments offered by Zionist stooges like DaBakr who can’t argue the facts.

    Zionists are just not very intelligent – they’re blinded by racism and a lust for supremacy – the very two things that will destroy them.

    الله يحميك ولعائلتك وكل الفلسطينيين

  5. on April 14, 2018, 11:15 am

    For those interested there’s a great article written in counterpunch by Stanley Cohen

  6. Kathleen on April 16, 2018, 10:45 am

    Thanks Prof Eid…so concise, crisp…the facts. Will certainly share on fb and elsewhere.

    2009, 2012,2014. All during the Obama administration. Hmm

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