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Great March of Return

As Gaza’s Great March of Return approaches one-year, protest founder Ahmed Abu Artema discusses building a non-violent movement

Allison Deger on
Palestinian activist Ahmed Abu Artema, 34, in Washington DC, Monday March 18, 2019. (Photo: Allison Deger)

It all started because of a bird. Ahmed Abu Artema, the unlikely leader of the largest popular Palestinian movement in decades, strode beside the separation fence that divides his home in the Gaza Strip from Israel on a January evening last year.  At twilight he saw birds fly overhead, soaring past the fence “and no one stopped them.” Abu Artema talks with Allison Deger about life in Gaza and the enduring power of the Great March of Return: “Our demands were simple and honorable, we want to return, we want a dignified life”

Gaza the crucible

Helena Cobban on

The Gaza protests will mark their one-year anniversary in 2 weeks, with real political potential for the Palestinian struggle. Gaza has always been a crucible for political movements in part because its population has such a high percentage of refugees of the Nakba in 1948. Helena Cobban traces the history.

One Friday in Gaza

Jen Marlowe on
Jen Marlowe with Fadi at the Great March of Return in Gaza.

Jen Marlowe shares a day in the life from Gaza: “The Great Return March earlier that day had been a blur of action. Ribbons of tear gas and repeated bursts of live fire, sometimes followed by shouts of “Someone’s wounded!” Was the last of these incidents that I witnessed the moment that Yousef had been shot in the chest and killed?”

On the 10th anniversary of ‘Cast Lead’ — Palestine’s Sharpeville massacre

Haidar Eid on

Haidar Eid writes from Gaza on the 10th anniversary of Operation Cast Lead: “In 2009, we argued that Gaza 2009, like the Sharpeville 1960 massacre, cannot be ignored. It demands a response from all who believe in a common humanity. We never thought that we would witness worse massacres! Now is the time to boycott the Apartheid Israeli state, to divest from its economy and to impose sanctions against it. It is high time that the world imposes a military embargo on Israel the same way it did against the apartheid regime of South Africa.”

Talking to the mother of Razan al-Najjar from the other side of the fence

Return on
Return Solidarity protests along side the Great Return March, December 22, 2018

On December 22, 2018, the 39th week of the Great March of Return, anti-Zionist Israeli activists joined Palestinian protestors at Khuza’a Return protest camp from the east side of the fence. Soldiers shot live rounds to prevent the activists from reaching the fence. Despite the military’s aggression, a phone conversation was held with Sabrine al-Najjar, the mother of Razan al-Najjar. She recognized the BDS movement as a positive factor in ending the occupation and contributing to the Palestinian cause of freedom and equality.

A ‘stubborn’ Gaza photographer narrowly escapes being killed but vows to return to fence next week

Ahmad Kabariti on

Gaza photographer Mohammed Asad has just turned away from the fence protest Friday when he felt a sting on his cheek and his camera strap jerk and saw Mohammed al Jahjuh, 16, writhing on the ground Al Jahjuh had been killed by an Israeli sniper. Asad narrowly escaped death, but his $2500 Canon camera was destroyed. He will borrow equipment, he vowed, to return to the protests. Israelis don’t understand “the Palestinian’s stubborn brain.”

Video: After 8 months, Palestinians vow to continue the Great March of Return until the siege of Gaza is lifted

Yumna Patel on

November 30th marked the 8 month anniversary of the Great March of Return. Every Friday since March 30th, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have taken to the borders with Israel to demand the right of return of refugees to their ancestral homelands in present day Israel, and an end to the siege on Gaza. Despite reported efforts from political officials to bring the Great March of Return to a close, protesters maintain that they will continue demonstrating until the siege is lifted once and for all.

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

Ahmad Kabariti on

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. Ahmad Kabariti asks Palestinians in Gaza if they believe the protest should be suspended in exchange for an easing of the blockade.

What Gaza Wants

Haidar Eid on

Haidar Eid writes from Gaza: “As we, Palestinians of Gaza, embark on our long walk to freedom, we have come to the conclusion that we can no longer rely on governments; instead, we request that the citizens of the world oppose these ongoing deadly crimes. In fact, we expect people of conscience and civil society organizations to put pressure on their governments until Israel is forced to abide by international law and international humanitarian law. It did work last century; without the intervention of the international community which was effective against apartheid in South Africa, Israel will continue its war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Gaza’s iconic ‘liberty protester’ shot in the leg by Israeli forces

Ahmad Kabariti on

Yesterday Israeli forces shot Aed Abu Amro in the leg, the Palestinian protester from the Gaza Strip who reached internet infamy after photographer for Anadolu Agency Mustafa Hassouna captured a shirtless Abu Amro gripping a Palestinian flag firmly in one hand and a slingshot in the other during a protest at the fence that divides the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Palestinians are as worthy as children of Holocaust survivors for dignity

Shahd Abusalama on

Shahd Abusalama writes, “Palestinians’ legitimate claims continue to be silenced at the expense of sustaining Israel’s longstanding myths of being the safe haven for world Jewry and a democracy with the world’s most moral army. As if we are not as worthy as the children of Holocaust survivors of freedom, security, justice and dignity.”

Fragmented thoughts from the Eastern fence of the Gaza open-air prison

Haidar Eid on

Haider Eid writes after returning from a protest at the Gaza fence as part of the Great March of Return: “The final judgment is approaching. Either exist, or be wiped out from history.  Therefore, it is the moment of truth, either be steadfast during this certainly delusional settlement, the settlement of a state, a Bantustan, with partial authority over the Palestinian people, or the delusion of a settlement under Israeli citizenship, regardless of the right of return.  We, marchers at the Eastern fence of the Gaza Ghetto beg to differ! We want the full menu of rights, or nothing!”

Why we can be hopeful on Palestine

Peter F. Cohen on

The Great Return March, which began on March 30th, was an attempt across a broad spectrum of Gazan society to mount a peaceful action that world could not help but recognize as such. After 6 months, the March has largely dropped from the headlines, even though the death toll continues to climb. But the March has nevertheless continued and some of the seeds it has planted are already bearing fruit.

Israel is reluctant to invade Gaza with ground troops — and it’s not because Benjamin Netanyahu has developed a conscience

James North on

Given recent history, it is surprising Israel has not invaded Gaza again. Previous massive Israeli ground attacks, in 2008, 2012 and 2014, required fewer pretexts than we see today with the success of the Great March of Return. But Israel’s ground forces stay put. Two respected analysts of Israel’s military explain why: the Hamas resistance movement has prepared strong defenses inside Gaza that have raised the costs of an invasion above an acceptable level.

If there are no refugees, there will be no one to return: Understanding Trump’s war on UNRWA and Palestinian refugees

Marilyn Garson on

According to multiple reports, in early September the Trump administration will issue a report recognizing no more than half a million Palestinian refugees, will reject any right of return, and ominously will ask Israel to ‘reconsider’ UNRWA’s mandate to operate in the West Bank. Marilyn Garson writes, “Trump and those around him have spent the year trying to obviate – rather than solve – Palestinian claims. Now they wish to deny the refugee status of 90% of Palestinians. If Trump has his way, only a few elderly refugees will remain.  The Right of Return will be moot. It would not exist now, he says, if UNRWA didn’t keep it alive. He will make the right disappear by de-funding UNRWA and de-registering its five million phantom refugees.  The realization of Palestinian rights may be a marathon, but right now, it is also a sprint.  The race is on, to be made to vanish or to be seen and heard.”

Israeli activists demonstrate on the Eastern side of the Gaza fence in solidarity with the weekly Great March of Return

Return on

On Friday, 24th of August, Return demonstrated from the Eastern side of the Gaza fence in solidarity with the weekly Great March of Return in Gaza, which took place for the 22nd Friday in a row. Yossi, a Return activist, explains, “We arrived to demonstrate in solidarity with the Palestinian demonstration on the other side of the fence. We got stopped by the soldiers and we couldn’t get close, but we could get to this sort of hill here from which they can see us waving the Palestinian flag. All of us here, Jews and internationals are here to support the right of return.”