Even though Etaf Wadi seemed unfamiliar with how to use her slingshot it didn’t stop her from firing her small stones towards the Israeli snipers behind the sand berms more than ten times. Most of the stones fell far before their desired target.
Wadi, 56, was one of the thousands of Palestinian demonstrators who protested for the seventh and final Friday of the Great March of Return as it headed into its last days ahead of Nakba Day on May 15th.
The protest is scheduled to end on the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, in which approximately 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes during the 14-month Israel-Arab war.
On Friday, Israeli snipers killed a Palestinian and wounded 170 protesters in Gaza, local medical workers said. Dozens more were overcome by tear gas.
Forty-five protestors have been killed and more than 4,000 injured by Israeli fire since the rally kicked off in late March.
A report released by Save the Children on Friday said that at least 250 children in Gaza have been hit with live bullets during the protests, and nearly 700 children have been injured overall.
The protests are part of an initiative to end the siege imposed by Tel Aviv and Cairo since Hamas took over Gaza 11 years ago.
“People here are tired of life and futile peace negotiations for 25 years with a state does not want peace and denies right of the other people to exist,” Wadi told Mondoweiss. Wadi, a mother of eight children and her parents were displaced from Bayt Dras, 32 km northeast of Gaza.
“Palestinians are not equal with Israel’s power,” she added, “but we have the right of return according to the UN’s Resolution 194. We are the only people in the world are still occupied. The United States has used 43 vetoes against the Palestinians, but we have the right to freedom, and the superpowers will not give it to us so that we will take our right by our own hands.”
She remembers when she was five and heard of mass massacres committed by Israelis against Palestinians in Gaza during the 1967 war.
March’s organizers dubbed Friday’s protest the “Friday of Preparation and Foreboding” ahead of the U.S. moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday.
Monday’s inauguration of the U.S. Embassy comes five months after President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that outraged Palestinians.
Concerns of violence are growing after the leader of Hamas in Gaza hinted that thousands of Palestinians might cross the border fence at Monday’s march.
Comparing the enclave’s people to a “starving tiger,” Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades leader Yahya Sinwar said, “What’s the problem if hundreds of thousands storm this fence which is not a border of a state? What’s the problem with that?”
Israel has been criticized by human rights groups for its lethal response to the protest.
I met Hammad Abu Safiya, a grandfather of 14 grandchildren, whose hand was amputated during a work injury while working in Israel 23 years ago. He is desperate for any dramatic change on May 14 and 15, but is doubtful. “Nothing will happen,” he predicted.
“Even if hundreds of demonstrators cross the border, the Israelis forces will gather them in buses and deport them to Gaza at the evening,” Abu Safiya, 58, said.
“Israel manages everything wisely from the point of its people’s view, it sees and knows everything, even what you write in your notebook in this interview,” Abu Safiya told me.
“Therefore, nothing will change the situation of the Palestinians” he added, “but a volcano or earthquake that destroy their state, then the Palestinians may be able to return.”
Abu Safiya believes that a devastating war would also change the situation, as happened with the former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat after the 1967 war when Israel was forced to sign the Camp David Accords. “So Israel will only understand a destructive war.”