Monday,27 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1389, (12 - 18 April 2018)
Monday,27 May, 2019
Issue 1389, (12 - 18 April 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Palestinian march gains momentum

The Palestinian March of Return in Gaza has been gaining momentum, revealing the double standards of the current world order, writes Haitham Ahmed


Palestinian march gains momentum
Palestinian march gains momentum

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were clearly up to a challenge on the second Friday of their March of Return designed to protest against the marginalisation of the Palestinian cause.

They proved that Israel’s sniper tactics do not work, and they persisted in their peaceful protests despite Israel’s harsh response that has killed more Palestinians, putting the struggle against the Israeli occupation back on the global agenda.

Observers say the March of Return has uncovered the double standards at work regarding the political causes of different peoples. It has also shown the bias towards the interests of major powers at the expense of the world’s peoples, and it has particularly drawn attention to the US silence on the killing of unarmed civilians in the Gaza Strip.

It has drawn attention, too, to the silence of the UN, whose role is supposed to be to maintain international peace and security. Many are asking why the UN quickly intervenes on other issues around the world, such as in Syria, Yemen and Libya, but sits on the fence when it comes to the Israeli occupation.

The Palestinians began the March of Return by organising peaceful demonstrations on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip with Israel on 31 March, which marks the anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel. More than 30 people have been killed since then, even as the slogan “Palestine Unites Us” continues to gather strength. The demonstrations are expected to continue until mid-May.

Washington has pledged to veto any resolutions that could harm Israel and serve the Palestinians in the UN and UN Security Council after recent events in the Gaza Strip. When Kuwait, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, tried to submit a draft resolution on the Palestinian people’s right to defend themselves and condemn Israel’s use of excessive force, the draft was postponed indefinitely following US objections.

The Palestinians are fighting to keep the momentum of the resistance up until it lays the foundations for further resistance and revives the idea of attrition against the Israeli occupation.

Analyst Bassem Al-Toweisi said the Palestinians today are more capable than at any other time of rewriting the history of their struggle and resetting the outlook of the wider world.

They had no other choice but peaceful or semi-peaceful resistance after history had shown them that the balance of power could not be changed by force in the short or medium terms, he said.

The “Friday of Tyres” protest in Gaza had been followed worldwide, he said, when thousands of young people used thousands of burning car tyres to obscure visibility for snipers and erected mirrors to reflect the sun and confuse them.

Commentator Yasser Al-Zaatra believes the march has been gaining importance because of its timing, which coincides with the ambitions of the Israelis to take advantage of the situation in the region and US President Donald Trump and his team in the White House amid unprecedented Arab meekness and lack of action.

 “Even Israel admits that the March of Return has achieved many successes so far,” Al-Zaatra said, referring to the views of Israeli analysts who have said that the successes may lead the Palestinians to expand their action during the anniversary of the 1948 declaration of the state of Israel in mid-May.

The march has “put the Palestinian cause and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees back on the regional and international political agenda, and it has embarrassed Israel on the world stage because the Palestinians succeeded in recording the Israeli army’s shootings of demonstrators,” he said.

The march has put hurdles in front of Trump’s “deal of the century” on Palestine and transformed Gaza’s borders into flash points between the Palestinians and the Israeli army. “This brings back the struggle of the Palestinians to world attention,” he said.

“It has succeeded in triggering an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and Arab League, changing how the Palestinian cause has been neglected in the region and around the world. It will hinder the normalisation of relations between Israel and some Arab countries,” Al-Zaatra said.

The march would not end the current crisis of the Palestinian cause, but it would help to jog people out of their complacency, he said. The bottleneck would not end until all agreed on a comprehensive uprising across the Palestinian Territories that could push back the Israeli occupation and overhaul the Palestinian Liberation Organisation to include Hamas and make it the real backbone of the Palestinian people.

Commentator Khaled Sadek said that in order to maintain the energy of the march it was important not to be distracted by outside interference that aims to halt it. The secret of its success so far was that it was Palestinian-made by the people themselves, he said. The people should decide which direction to take, he added.

The march should be viewed as a natural extension of the Palestinian people’s struggle to take back their rights. The action should not end on 15 May, but should continue to grow and put pressure on the Israeli occupation and the US, which has said it will recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate its embassy to the city.

The Palestinian factions must remain on the same page with all young demonstrators in Gaza, drawing attention to Israel’s excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators. “Our people in the Palestinian refugee camps and diaspora must also take action in tandem with events in Palestine until the message is delivered fully that the right of return is tantamount and will not be abandoned or negotiated,” he said.

There was a need, Sadek added, to use the media more fully to uncover the actions of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians, documenting its crimes until Israel could be held fully accountable.

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