Israeli Soldiers Seriously Injure A Palestinian Man In Kufur Qaddoum

29 APR
12:09 AM

Israel soldiers shot and seriously injured a Palestinian man, Saturday, after the army attacked the weekly procession in Kufur Qaddoum village, east of Qalqilia, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

Medical sources said the man, Waleed Barham, 55, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head, while in his land.

They added that the bullet fractured his skull, causing a serious injury, especially since the soldiers shot him from a close range.

The man was rushed to a hospital in Nablus, also in northern West Bank, and was instantly admitted to surgery.

The Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum said the soldiers invaded the village and resorted to the excessive use of force against local protesters, before chasing them in the olive orchards.

On Friday, the soldiers attacked the protesters in Kufur Qadd

oum, and fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs. Some of the live round struck a Palestinian car causing damage.

In related news, dozens of soldiers invaded, on Saturday at night, Joyyous town, east of Qalqilia.


(Source / 29.04.2018)

Israel to Seize Lands in Bethlehem Area

29 APR
2:50 AM

Israeli authorities served notifications, on Saturday to seize 42 dunams of land in the village of al-Khadir, to the south of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, a local activist said.

Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the Anti-Settlement Committee in the village, told WAFA that Israeli forces notified Palestinians from the village about their intention to take over the 42 dunams, for “security reasons”.

The forces also notified a villager from al-Khadir about their intention to demolish a retaining wall he had built in the village.

According to the Israeli anti-settlement group, Peace Now, “Over the years, Israel has used a number of legal and bureaucratic procedures in order to appropriate West Bank lands, with the primary objective of establishing settlements and providing land reserves for them.”

“Using primarily these five methods: seizure for military purposes; declaration of state lands; seizure of absentee property; confiscation for public needs; and initial registration, Israel has managed to take over about 50% of the lands in the West Bank, barring the local Palestinian public from using them.”

(Source / 29.04.2018)

Palestinian Teen Succumbs to Injuries after Israeli Fire on Gaza Border

A wounded Palestinian falls on the ground during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest where Palestinians demand the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip, April 27, 2018

A 15-year-old Palestinian teenager has died of his wounds a day after being shot by Israeli forces in clashes along the Gaza border, the territory’s health ministry said Saturday.

Azzam Oweida was hit in the head during protests in southern Gaza on Friday, the ministry said.

His death brought to four the number of people killed or fatally wounded during a fifth consecutive Friday of protests in which thousands of Gazans have gathered near the heavily-guarded border.

Forty-five Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the start of what organizers have dubbed the Great March of Return on March 30, with more than 1,500 wounded.

No Israelis have been reported hurt.

In the West Bank, demonstrations were also held Friday in order to denounce the US decision to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem.

Clashes erupted between Palestinians and occupation forces in Hebron after dozens of youths gathered in the Old City, burning tires and tossing stones on the soldiers.

In al-Bireh, young men blocked the road with stones and burning tires, before the eruption of direct confrontations with the occupation forces that used rubber bullets and tear gas to clamp down on the protesters, leaving nine of them wounded.

In Ni’lin, hundreds of Palestinians gathered at the separation wall, chanting slogans against the occupation and its practices in West Bank villages.

Israeli forces responded by using tear gas, leaving 12 Palestinians, in addition to a foreign journalist, wounded.

Clashes also erupted at Beita, Nablus, as Israeli forces attempted to disperse a march denouncing the occupation’s violations against Palestinians.

Israeli troops carried out several arrests.

(Source / 29.04.2018)

Hamas Accuses Ramallah Intelligence of PM Hamdallah Assassination Attempt

Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah

Hamas movement accused the Palestinian intelligence services of being behind the bombing in March which targeted convoy of Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah in Gaza Strip and causing the collapse of Palestinian reconciliation.

Spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Interior and National Security Iyad al-Bazm said the investigations proved that 8 days before Hamadullah’s visit to Gaza, IEDs were placed in the area, and three days before the visit, the bombing circuits were placed, whereas Gaza officials were only informed of the visit 48 hours before it happened.

Speaking at a press conference, Bazm said that investigations proved the head of the Palestinian intelligence Maj. Gen. Majid Faraj took Hamdallah’s car and not his personal car as usual, and the bomb was detonated after Hamdallah and Faraj’s car.

“Investigations led to a person known as Abu Hamza A., founder and director of a jihadist media outlet,” through which cells were managed, directed and exchanged information.

“After extensive and complex investigations, Abu Hamza A. was identified as A. S. from the West Bank,” indicated Bazm.

Hamas spokesman claimed that Abu Hamza was working for the General Intelligence Service in Ramallah.

As of Saturday evening, the Palestinian intelligence has not responded to Hamas’ accusations.

According to Bazm, those who carried out the attack were responsible for the assassination attempt of security forces commander Tawfiq Abu Naeem in October 2017.

“Investigations revealed that the cell planned to target leaders of Hamas, international figures, and the Egyptian delegation,” he added.

Bazm accused high-level officials of managing cells that are working to destabilize security in Gaza.

During the conference, the Interior ministry showed a video of a number of detainees. The announcement came a month after the main suspect in the assassination attempt, Anas Abu Khoussa, 26, was killed while trying to arrest him.

Back then, the Palestinian government questioned Hamas narrative, saying it fabricated illusory fictional accounts and carried out suspicious scenarios.

A few days ago, PM Hamdallah accused Hamas of killing Abu Khoussa from a short distance so that the truth would be lost, and he knew who was behind him, in direct reference to Hamas.

The Palestinian Authority blamed Hamas for the assassination attempt and President Mahmoud Abbas threatened the movement that it would bear the consequences if it did not hand over everything in the Gaza Strip to the government.

Earlier on March 25, Asharq Al-Awsat published a report in which Hamas was inclined to point fingers towards the PA, focusing on the beneficiaries of the bombing and intellectual delinquency, but Egyptian pressure prevented Hamas from immediately announcing the accusations.

Hamas had hoped Abbas would back down on measures taken against Gaza, including salary cuts, and hoped Egypt would succeed in resuming reconciliation efforts and overcoming the crisis.

President Abbas, however, insisted on fully taking over Gaza Strip, and said he would continue his actions. He plans to declare Gaza a “rebel territory”.

Hamas’ accusation of power somehow indicates a breakdown in efforts to restore reconciliation.

(Source / 29.04.2018)

CPJ: Seven Gaza Journalists Injured on Fifth Friday of Protests (VIDEO)

Palestinian Journalist Syndicate in Ramallah organizes a symbolic funeral for journalist Ahmad Abu Hussein

A US-based rights monitoring group confirmed that at least seven Palestinian journalists covering the Great Return March in Gaza have been injured on the fifth Friday of the ongoing protests.

The Committee to Protest Journalists (CPJ) said the toll was based on reports by Palestinian Journalist Syndicate, local media, and three local journalists – Moneeb Saada, Saud Abu Ramadan, and Sami Eissa.

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Not Numbers@WeAreNotNumbers


A medical point near ‘s borders was targeted by several teargas canisters.

The injuries were sustained from Israeli forces’ tear gas and live bullets fired at the journalists – photographers or reporters – over the five protest locations along the eastern Gaza border.

The organization named the injured journalists:

1- Abdulrahman al-Kahlout: Reporting for Shehab News Agency; he was injured in his right leg by a live bullet.

Pictures posted by We Are Not Numbers on Twitter showed al-Kahlout wearing a bulletproof vest marked “PRESS” and a helmet marked “TV” when he was hit by a live round.

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Not Numbers@WeAreNotNumbers


A journalist photographer, Abdulrahman Al-Kahlout, was injured in the leg while covering the , minutes ago.

2- Hashem Hamadeh: A freelance photographer; he was hit in the head and face by gas canisters.

View image on Twitter

فلسطين أون لاين@felesteenonline

إصابة الصحفي هشام حمادة بقنبلة غاز أطلقها عليه جيش الاحتلال الإسرائيلي شمال قطاع غزة

3- Islam Ezzanoun: Reporting for the Palestinian Authority’s official broadcaster, Palestine TV; she inhaled tear gas.

4- Nabil Darabieh: Reporting for local news website Quds Media; he was hit in the head and face by gas canisters.

5- Mohammad al-Masry: A photographer and camera operator for Shehab News Agency; he inhaled tear gas.

6- Lana Saheen: A reporter for the Beirut-based pan-Arab al-Mayadeen news channel; she inhaled tear gas and fainted.

7- Hassan al-Jeddi: A photographer for local news website Shams News; he inhaled tear gas.

Since the protests began on March 30, 2018, CPJ has documented at least 14 journalists hit by live rounds fired by Israel Defense Forces, two of whom– Yaser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein–later died from their injuries.

A recent independently produced documentary covering five consecutive Fridays featured Israel’s violations against journalists since the beginning of the Great Return March demonstrations.

The five-minute film, made by Mohammed Al Zaanoun, documented a total of 37 attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces on press staff, including 16 cases of live and exploding bullets, 20 cases of teargas canisters. Two were reportedly killed.

A video published by a local media agency shows a journalist being targeted among crowds of people.

وكالة شهاب


تصوير يوثق قنص الاحتلال للصحفي احمد ابو حسين شرق جباليا شمالي قطاع غزة والذي وصفت حالته بالخطيرة

A local monitor of press violations, The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), called for the formation of an independent commission of inquiry into the killing of Ahmed Abu Hussein and Yasser Murtaja, who are protected Palestinian journalists under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

(Source / 29.04.2018)

Ahmad Abu Hussein: second Palestinian journalist slain in the Great March of Return

Palestinian journalist Ahmad Abu Hussein died in Ramallah on 25 April, killed by the injuries inflicted upon him on 13 April by Israeli occupation forces during the Great March of Return in Gaza. He was shot with live ammunition in the stomach by Israeli occupation snipers as he photographed the march near Jabaliya, wearing a visible “Press” vest. Abu Hussein, 25, worked for Sawt al-Shaab (Voice of the People) radio station. He is the second Palestinian journalist to have been killed by Israeli occupation forces while covering the Great Return March; Yaser Murtaja of Ain Media was killed by occupation forces on 7 April. The journalists are two of a total of 42 Palestinians who have been shot dead by occupation forces as they march in thousands for their right to return and to break the siege on Gaza.

After he was shot, he was forced to wait for two days to be transferred from Gaza to Ramallah for treatment, finally receiving permission on 15 April. Once he arrived, his condition was so critical that he was transferred again to Tel Hashomer hospital four days later. Ashraf al-Qidra of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said that the Israeli “security” delay prohibiting Abu Hussein’s immediate transfer ensured his death, while Osama al-Najjar of the Health Ministry in Ramallah said that he “needed a miracle to save his life” after his arrival. He was accompanied by his mother Rajaa, who refused to leave his bedside; his younger brother Diyaa, 16 was denied permission to join them due to “security” pretexts; he also has a 20-year-old sister, Luna.

Abu Hussein and his family are Palestinian refugees; he lived in the Jabaliya refugee camp. They are among 70 percent of the Palestinian population in Gaza who are refugees denied their right to return to their homes and villages in Palestine ’48 for 70 years by the Israeli occupation. The Great March of Return, in which tens of thousands of Palestinians have participated, demands the implementation of their right to return home and an end to the siege on Gaza. The Israeli occupation has hit these mass, popular protests with intense violence, live ammunition and the death of dozens, the amputation of hundreds of limbs and the wounding of thousands.

Rami al-Sharafi, general secretary of the Democratic Press Association, said in an interview with Middle East Eye that “Ahmad was wearing a blue vest marked as press in fluorescent color…They have committed a crime against Yaser Murtaja, and today Ahmad Abu Hussein. This says that every journalist documenting the truth along the borderline is an Israeli target.”

In addition to working as a journalist with Sawt al-Shaab radio for the past five years, Abu Hussein was an activist with the Progressive Student Labor Front and a member of the Democratic Press Association. Thousands of Palestinians marched in a mass funeral when his body was returned, only hours before thousands would again take the streets in Jabalya to mourn Dr. Fadi al-Batsh, the Palestinian electrical engineer assassinated in Malaysia on 20 April by the Israeli Mossad, according to evidence collected by the Malaysian police.


The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate also held a symbolic funeral for Abu Hussein in Ramallah in Manara Square, denouncing the ongoing Israeli targeting of Palestinian journalists, noting that this is a “clear attempt to conceal the truth and prevent the media from covering and exposing the ongoing crimes against our people, including the use of internationally prohibited weapons against journalists and demonstrators.”  The syndicate called for occupation officials to be held accountable and for the files on the assassination of journalists, including Abu Hussein and Murtaja, to be brought to the International Criminal Court.

The Democratic Press Association issued a statement urging international organizations, human rights groups and the International Federation of Journalists to take action against the ongoing, deliberate targeting of Palestinian journalists. “This continuous targeting is inseparable from the crimes of the occupation against our people. The Palestinian media is in the forefront of uncovering and documenting the crimes of the occupation for decades, and this targeting is a systematic and deliberate crime to stop this role in struggle.”


The International Federation of Journalists issued a statement joining the condemnation and call to action of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.

“The PJS stresses that the occupation authorities and their leader bear full responsibility for these ongoing crimes and reiterates its emphasis on intensifying its efforts to go after the occupation leaders for their crimes against journalists, especially the deliberate and documented killings of journalists Ahmad Abu Hussein and Yassir Murtaja, and it vows not to rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice,” said the union in a statement.

“It is clear that after Israeli soldiers murdered a journalist the authorities are more interested in spouting propaganda and engaging in a cover-up than in carrying out a thorough and transparent investigation and bringing Hussein and Yasser’s killers to justice,” said IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network denounces the killing of Palestinian journalists Ahmad Abu Hussein and Yaser Murtaja and notes that these killings take place as part of a systematic attack on Palestinian journalists that includes targeting them for death, injury and imprisonment. Israeli occupation forces have repeatedly targeted journalists, and Palestinian journalists are routinely subjected to imprisonment, frequently administrative detention without charge or trial. The cases of Mohamed al-Qeeq, Omar Nazzal and Bushra al-Tawil are three among dozens that underline this policy, alongside historic assassinations of Palestinian writers like that of groundbreaking novelist, writer and revolutionary Ghassan Kanafani in 1972. The work, the images and the words of Palestinian journalists are critical in sharing the Palestinian experience, narrative and struggle with the Palestinian people, the Arab world and international audiences. Palestinian journalists must receive international solidarity and Israeli occupation forces must be held accountable, including through global sanctions and an arms embargo, for their targeting of Palestinians who document the stories of their people. Ahmad Abu Hussein lives on! 

The following 42 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli occupation forces while participating in the mass popular demonstrations, the Great March of Return, which began in Gaza on 30 March – Land Day – and will continue through 15 May – Nakba Day:

1. Abdel-Qader Marda al-Khawari
2. Naji Abu Hajir
3. Amin Mansour Abu Ma’amar
4. Mahmoud Sa’adi Rahmi
5. Wahid Nasrallah Abu Samur
6. Mohammed Na’im Abu Amro
7. Ahmad Ibrahim Ashour Odeh
8. Jihad Ahmad Farina
9. Mohammed Kamal al-Najjar
10. Sari Walid Abu Odeh
11. Abdel-Fattah Abdel-Nabi
12. Ibrahim Salah Abu Sha’ar
13. Bader Fayek al-Zubair
14. Hamdan Ismail Abu Amsha
15. Jihad Zaher Abu Jamous
16. Omar Wahid Samour
17. Faris al-Rukab
18. Ahmad Omar Arfa
19. Shadi Hamdan al-Kashef
20. Marwan al-Khadari
21. Thaer Mohammed Rabea
22. Hussein Madi
23. Ala al-Din al-Zamali
24. Majdi Shueibat
25. Hamza Abdel-Aal
26. Mohammed Saleh
27. Sidqi Abu Attawi
28. Ibrahim al-‘Ar
29. Yaser Murtaja
30. Osama Qadih
31. Marwan Qadih
32. Abdel-Sheikh al-Shahri
33. Islam Shadi Herzallah
34. Atamna Ahmad Rashed
35. Mohammed Ibrahim Ayoub
36. Saad Abu Taha
37. Ahmed Nabil Abu Aqel
38. Nayef Thaer al-Zu’ri
39. Abdullah Mohammed Jibril Shamali
40. Mohammed Nimer al-Muqadma
41. Tahrir Wahbe
42. Ahmed Abu Hussein

(Source / 29.04.2018)

Amnesty Calls for Arms Embargo as Israel Continues to Kill Gaza Protesters (VIDEO)

Protest 5th week

Palestinians continue protesting for the fifth week in row in Gaza as part of the Great March of Return

Israel is carrying out a murderous assault against protesting Palestinians, with its armed forces killing and maiming demonstrators who pose no imminent threat to them, Amnesty International revealed today, based on its latest research, as the “Great March of Return” protests continued in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military has killed 40 Palestinians and injured more than 5,000 others – some with what appear to be deliberately inflicted life-changing injuries – during the weekly Friday protests that began on 30 March.

Amnesty International has renewed its call on governments worldwide to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel following the country’s disproportionate response to mass demonstrations along the fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel.

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Ben White@benabyad

Breaking – @Amnesty urges “governments worldwide to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel”, in light of its military’s “murderous assault against protesting Palestinians” in the Gaza Strip.

“For four weeks the world has watched in horror as Israeli snipers and other soldiers, in full-protective gear and behind the fence, have attacked Palestinian protesters with live ammunition and tear gas. Despite wide international condemnation, the Israeli army has not reversed its illegal orders to shoot unarmed protesters,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“The time for symbolic statements of condemnation is now over. The international community must act concretely and stop the delivery of arms and military equipment to Israel. A failure to do so will continue to fuel serious human rights abuses against thousands of men, women and children suffering the consequences of life under Israel’s cruel blockade of Gaza. These people are merely protesting their unbearable conditions and demanding the right to return to their homes and towns in what is now Israel.”

Daniel Wickham@DanielWickham93

Amnesty: Governments should impose arms embargo on Israel over its ‘murderous assault’ on Palestinian protesters in Gaza – ‘evidence suggest(s) that many were deliberately killed or injured while posing no immediate threat to the Israeli soldiers’ 

Israel: Arms embargo needed as military unlawfully kills and maims Gaza protesters

In most of the fatal cases analyzed by Amnesty International victims were shot in the upper body, including the head and the chest, some from behind. Eyewitness testimonies, video and photographic evidence suggest that many were deliberately killed or injured while posing no immediate threat to the Israeli soldiers.

Rohan Talbot@rohantalbot

.@Amnesty statement echos concerns raised by MAP about the type and extent of injuries being caused to protesters, “typical of war wounds not observed since the 2014 conflict.”

Rohan Talbot@rohantalbot

.@Amnesty also highlights the extreme burden placed on ‘s health system amid ongoing resource shortages, delays to exit for care, and attacks on paramedics trying to treat the wounded.

View image on Twitter

Doctors at the European and Shifa hospitals in Gaza City told Amnesty International that many of the serious injuries they have witnessed are to the lower limbs, including the knees, which are typical of war wounds that they have not observed since the 2014 Gaza conflict.

Doctors also said that they have observed another type of devastating injury characterized by large internal cavities, plastic left inside the body but no exit wounds.



Mourners gather after 2nd journalist shot by Israeli forces in Gaza protests dies

According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, as of April 26, the total number of injured is estimated at 5,511 – 592 children, 192 women and 4,727 men – with 1,738 injuries from live ammunition. Approximately half of those admitted to hospitals suffered injuries to the legs and the knees, while 225 sustained injuries to the neck and head, 142 others were shot in the abdomen and pelvis, and 115 were injured in the chest and the back. So far, the injuries have resulted in 18 amputations.

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cyclists, just KM from stage 3, Israeli weapons are crushing Palestinian bones. Médecins Sans Frontières says +50% of patients in MSF clinics in Gaza “have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverized the bone” 

Four children aged between 14 and 17 are among those killed due to injuries sustained during protests. Two journalists have also been shot dead, despite both wearing protective vests that clearly identified them as members of the press, while several others have been injured.

(Source / 28.04.2018)

Injured Prisoner Named ‘2018 Woman of Palestine’

Woman prisoner

Palestinian woman prisoner wins the Palestine’s ‘Woman of Year’ award

An injured Palestinian mother has been given the 2018’s “Woman of Palestine” award in an honorary ceremony held Thursday in Gaza.

“Palestinian women have been deeply involved in the Palestinian struggle,” Women’s Affairs Minister Haifa al-Agha said in a speech delivered at the award ceremony.

32-year-old Israa Jaabees was detained by Israel in 2015 after being shot at by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem. Jaabees sustained serious burn injuries on several parts of her body, for which she requires a number of surgical procedures, according to Palestinian officials.

Marwa tweeted:

“She is provided with no medication; suffers tragic detention conditions and she’s not allowed to see her only son. Isra al-Ja’abees is an epitome of hardship among hundreds of women prisoners in the occupation’s jails.”


لا تتلقى العلاج وتعاني من ظروف اعتقال مأساوية ويحرمها الاحتلال من رؤية ابنها الوحيد،، الأسيرة معاناة واحدة من بين مئات الأسرى والأسيرات المرضى في سجون الاحتلال .

“They remain a powerful symbol of the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and had played a vital role standing up to the [Israeli] occupation”.

The Israeli authorities accuse Jaabees of having attempted to attack Israeli soldiers with a bomb-laden vehicle — claims she and her family vehemently deny.

During an international campaign to release her, Palestinian activists recounted what happened to Isra to fend off Israel’s allegations. The poster below reads:

“On the day of the arrest, while Isra was transporting her furniture to her new house, the car’s airbag exploded and fire spread out inside; Isra went out asking the Israeli police for ambulance but they left her out; they called up more forces; Isra’s wounds covered most of her body, and her fingers had to be amputated later on.”

The head of the “Committee of the Families of the Jerusalem Prisoners” said an appeal to reduce the 11-year sentence against Isra due to her health status has been refused by the High Court of Justice, a prisoners’ affairs NGO said.

According to Palestinian figures, roughly 6,400 Palestinians are currently in Israeli custody, including dozens of women and scores of minors.

The “Woman of Palestine” award is given annually by the ministry to Palestinian women who have accomplished notable achievements.

(Source / 28.04.2018)

Three Killed, 349 Wounded Wounded’ as Palestinians March on Gaza Border

Three Palestinians were killed and at least 349 Palestinians were wounded Friday as thousands participated in the “March of Return” along the Israel-Gaza border for the fifth week in a row, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Ten of the wounded in this week’s protest, themed ‘rebellious youth,’ are reportedly journalists and medical staff according the Health Ministry.

Of the wounded, at least 75 of which by live Israeli fire, four were medical staff and six were journalists, reported the ministry.

Two of the wounded are said to be in critical condition, two in very serious condition and 73 in moderate condition.

The committee organizing the protests said this week’s march is dedicated to “rebellious youth” to honor the thousands of young people who have come to protest every week at the area along the border fence.

The organizers said that this week, too, the marches are supposed to remain a nonviolent mass protest. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, youths scattered sand bags in several locations along the border earlier this week for protection against sniper fire.

On Friday, the UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that Israel must address the use of excessive force in Gaza, and that the loss of life is “deplorable,” and that “the number of injuries is staggering.”




(Source / 28.04.2018)

Great Return March becomes ‘theater’ of resistance

Reading chain

Another activity at the march was a “reading chain”

While Israel and some Western media label Gaza Palestinians’ ongoing, six-week protest a “riot,” what visitors and participants see on the ground is completely different. The tire and (Israeli) flag burning that may seem “riotous” to some are actually carefully planned by a coordinating committee to obscure the vision of Israeli snipers (the former) and serve as a peaceful outlet for frustration and anger (the latter). And while those activities are occurring on the front lines of the border protest, the “Great Return March” (so-named because of the desire of the refugees in Gaza to return to the homes they were forced to evacuate in 1948), also is hosting many family-oriented cultural celebrations. On any given day, you may encounter women cooking Bedouin bread, young men dancing dabka and children flying kites.

“By including cultural activities in the Great Return March, we send a reminder message to the world that we will never forget our heritage and customs, which remind us of home,” says organizer Ahmed Abu Ertima. “At the same time, these cultural demonstrations show we are peaceful in the demand for our rights.”

Thousands of Gaza families take their children and head off to the border to participate in the Great Return March every day, raising the Palestinian flag and chanting the event’s motto, “We have the right to return to our ancestral land.” They sit on the ground, in sight of stolen lands just a few hundred meters away, while listening to their elders’ tales about their ancestral villages and towns.

Elsewhere, depending on the day, visitors may stumble on a wedding celebration at one of the five protest encampments along the border. No one is keeping count, but photos of at least three march-camp marriage parties have appeared on social media.

Mohammed Daloul, a 22-year-old groom, is among those who celebrated their marriage at a protest site. He invited all of his friends via social media, along with the hundreds of other Palestinians gathered at the border, just a few hundred meters away from the eyes of Israel’s snipers.

The celebration prominently featured patriotic songs, such as those of Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf, the Arab Idol singer whose tunes call for freedom and dignity. While the booming music carried clearly to the Israeli side of the border, the guests roared even louder, chanting for their right to return to their land. Daloul waved a Palestinian flag.

“This is a ‘return marriage celebration’,” said Ayman, a friend of the groom who asked that his last name not be used. “We want to show the world our demonstrations are peaceful, a legal way to demand our right of return.”

Daloul added, “Despite the joy I feel tonight, it won’t really be complete until we return to our homes, which were stolen by Israeli occupation.”

During the second Friday of the Great Return March, protest organizers staged a series of “reading chains,” with participants literally sitting on the ground in a line, reading and discussing issues such as colonialism and imperialism. The reading selections are designed to raise awareness among youth raised under occupation and blockade of the forces that have shaped their lives, while confronting Israeli soldiers with peaceful resistance.

On another day, young women wanting to leave their “mark” on the protest painted tires—which later would be burned to produce the smoke that effectively obscured the vision of Israeli snipers—bright pink, purple, blue and yellow, forming a line snaking throughout the camps.

While there is a central coordinating committee for the march, the cultural activities are in large part driven by individual initiative. “These kinds of things can’t be controlled,” notes Abu Ertima. That means sometimes the demonstrators engage in some activities, like burning Israeli flags, that the organizers would prefer they didn’t. But the majority contribute to the overall festive and harmonious atmosphere. Preservation of Palestinian culture is the focus of many of the activities.

Um Wael (“mother of Wael”), 77 and originally from Julis village (only 29 km from Gaza), refuses to give up her dream of returning. “I still remember the Nakba [catastrophe], which happened when I was only 6 years old. I remember a life of hard work, but blissful independence, before Israel forcibly displaced us and we had to move to this desperate life here in Gaza,” she said. “I won’t stop telling my grandsons and granddaughters about their origins. We believe one day we will return. If not me, my grandkids will.”

The Great Return March is in its fourth week, and the number of killed now is 40. But the frustration and despair fostered by 11 years of blockade continue to drive many Gaza residents to participate in, and even live, at the march. Once they get glimpse of their homeland across the border, they glimpse freedom. Gaza’s borderline has become a theater for artists and poets to convey a message to the world that they demand the basic liberties they have been denied for too long.

(Source / 28.04.2018)