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Is the Great March of Return winding down after Egyptian deal? Gaza’s protesters speak

Israel/Palestine
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Palestinians are still demonstrating along the Gaza-Israel border on Fridays, but in fewer numbers and with less fury than seen in recent months as Egyptian mediators work to lessen confrontations along the fence.

For the last six months Palestinian youth have protested by the tens of thousands along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. Locally the demonstrations reignited a conversation about return to their historic cities and villages that now part of Israel, as 1.3 million of the 1.9 million residents in the Strip are refugees from lands inside of Israel.

But the movement could be winding down.

In late October the Lebanese outlet al-Akhbar reported an agreement between Israel and Hamas that aims to soften violence along the border through the end of 2018.  The deal would have Palestinian factions drawing back their support of the weekly marches, thus lowering the number of protesters, in exchange for Israeli forces easing up on lethal fire.

Egypt is expected to pressure Israel to lift 70 percent of the blockade on Gaza and expand the fishing zone by 14 nautical miles. Five thousand Gazan workers under the age of 40 will be allowed to enter Israel for employment, and Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing.

But will the terms approved by the top brass prove effective on the ground? I asked Palestinians in Gaza if they believe protest should be suspended in exchange for an easing of the blockade?

Ayda Darweesh, 50, housewife. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Ayda Darweesh, 50, housewife

“I question why these protest should stop since I am a mother of a martyr and one who was wounded? The sacrifice from my son should not be in vain. Do the Israelis think that creating amputees will be priceless? Then suddenly will we stop protesting? Once [Israel] gives us our rights to live as real humans, then my five sons and I, and all of the demonstrators will spend our Fridays having a peaceful night’s sleep.”

Atallah Fayoumi, 18, unemployed. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Atallah Fayoumi, 18, unemployed

“I had never been as close to fence as I am now. This is a priceless achievement. Once our sacrifices enable people to restore new yards they have been prohibited before, so that the border areas become full of life and populated. This march must goes on even I lost my second leg, then we must get real achievements like the free world live in.”

Sumayyah Ahmad, 54, protester. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Sumayyah Ahmad, 54, protester

“These protesters must continue to rally to lead us to a victory at the end.”

“Our lifestyle of hardships and desires will vanish soon. This same suffering was experienced by our fathers and grandfathers in previous decades. On the other hand, Israel must give us a chance to live freely by putting an end to the 11-year blockade which impacts jobs, power shortages, medical treatment and the drowning sewage. Never mind if the protesters might lose their legs or lives, then a new generation will live in dignity after ending the last occupation in the world.”

Waseem al-Baz, 30, waiter. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Waseem al-Baz, 30, waiter

“As long as medics are treating new amputees, then the marches must be stopped. The only beneficiaries are officials and governments, while the people will get a few more hours of electricity. I can’t afford to get engaged to my sweetheart because I only earn $4 a day.I do not have the ability to leave this job to another, better one where I could earn more, as long as the blockade has a hold over our lives.The Palestinians have been struggling alone for decades and nothing was achieved.”

Malak Nawfal, 18, IT student. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Malak Nawfal, 18, IT student

“No one can stop the protest until we return to our lands in the historic Palestine, despite thousands of victims who are the fuel of the struggle. Nothing is for free in this world and all are obligated to scarify for a better future.”

Mahmoud al-Aklook, chocolate importer. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Mahmoud al-Aklook, chocolate importer

“The scenes of thousands of wounded and bereaved mothers is heartbreaking. I have not turned on my television for four months to avoid watching such bloody scenes. Everything has an expiration date but this protest seems to be eternal, which mean more victims against a ruthless killer. The protests have caused damage for the Israeli, but what we have gained? ”

Abdulhakeem al-Naffar, metalworker. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Abdulhakeem al-Naffar, metalworker

“After long months of protests, what we have gained is damage to our mental health, this added on top of nearly twelve years of besieged minds. The people who join the protest are escaping from despair and internal crisis. They throw themselves into death because of lack of opportunities. This whole country is facing bankruptcy.

Hala Nawfal, 28, public official. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Hala Nawfal, 28, public official

“No truce agreement will have an effect on the ground since Israel is not a direct party. The Israeli leaders deceive us with promises to ease the blockade in order to obligate us to retire. This will happen if a real lifting the siege is taking the place, not just expanding few miles for fishermen or fueling up the generator plant for few hours more. We are talking about humans need a decent life. We will not begging our rights, they should grab them by force.”

About Ahmad Kabariti

Ahmad Kabariti is a freelance journalist based in Gaza.

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6 Responses

  1. Misterioso
    Misterioso
    November 13, 2018, 11:14 am

    Meanwhile, the monstrous Adelsons, slithering billionaire Zionist fascists, puppet masters and financiers of pathetic, gutless, lame brain “President” Trump, are rewarded for their gross inhumanity.

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-to-award-sheldon-adelsons-wife-highest-civilian-honor/

    “Trump to award Sheldon Adelson’s wife Miriam highest civilian honor”

    The Times of Israel, Nov. 10/18

  2. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    Maximus Decimus Meridius
    November 13, 2018, 12:03 pm

    “Egypt is expected to pressure Israel to lift 70 percent of the blockade on Gaza and expand the fishing zone by 14 nautical miles. Five thousand Gazan workers under the age of 40 will be allowed to enter Israel for employment, and Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing.”

    Not buying it. Even if Sisi could exert meaningful pressure on Israel – he can’t really – he wouldn’t. The only reason he is in power is because of an extremely brutal coup d’etat which overthrew the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government. Khamaas are essentially the Palestinian version of the brothers. Also, Sisi’s regime is sponsored by the Saudis and Emiratis to the tune of many billions a year, in large part because both regimes are terrified of the Brothers. There is no way that Sisi will risk Saudi funding in order to relieve the siege. Au contraire.

  3. Freija
    Freija
    November 13, 2018, 6:29 pm

    every time when the fearless Palestinian people have achieved to bother Israel there are deals above them for a stop. All the answers of Palestinians in your article are an expression of keeping the strength on the fence. It is a tactic of withering the enemy. The Palestinians are the only people who can master this tactic. No state, no government, no other people can do this, only the people living under this brutal oppression for decades and because of the overall betrayal (even their own authority) the western democracies, the UN and other international bodies because they have nothing else but their naked life. Western hypocrisy became evident with this struggle for freedom. And the lies of the “only democracy in the Middle East” are revealed. Israel promised a Palestinian state in 1948 to the UN besides their own. This was the biggest lie in human history. Ongoing lies have a very bad effect to minds : schizophrenia.

    • Mayhem
      Mayhem
      November 13, 2018, 8:09 pm

      @Freja, without facts one becomes just a mouthpiece of lies and propaganda as you have. You said “Israel promised a Palestinian state in 1948 to the UN besides their own.”
      It was the UN that partitioned Palestine into a Jewish state and and an Arab state but the Arabs rejected any notion of partition and went to war to destroy the nascent state of Israel.
      Ever since the Peel Commission in 1937 the Arabs have demonstrated an unwillingness to accept a Jewish state in any part of the Palestine mandate. Time to move on from notions of a two-state solution which the Arabs have shown all along they are ultimately not prepared to accept.

      • mondonut
        mondonut
        November 13, 2018, 9:48 pm

        @Mayhem

        More accurately, the UNGA proposed partition but it never happened.

        However you are correct that a Israeli promise of a Palestinian state is nonsense. Along with the oft repeated delusion that Israel’s acceptance to the UN was conditional on Israel’s acceptance and implementation of resolutions 181 and 194.

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye
        November 14, 2018, 6:40 am

        Oh dear, what b/s from Mayhem.

        It was the zionists who declared *their* state who *also* declared their borders as those of its share of the Partition Plan.

        When “the Arabs…went to war” it was in an attempt to protect Palestinians *outside* the newly declared state, who were being massacred, robbed and expelled by the expansionist new Israelis *unwilling* to accept – or ignorant of (by design) – The new state’s borders.

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