Author: returnsolidarity

Nov 16: Anti-Zionist Israeli protesters meet with Ahmed Abu Artema of the Great March of Return


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Gaza, Palestine: 60 anti-Zionist Israelis and internationals continued their coordinated protests in solidarity with Palestinians in the weekly Great March of Return after a week of brutal attacks and bombings on the besieged population of the Gaza Strip. They met with Ahmed Abu Artema who addressed them from the other side of the fence that imprisons the Palestinians in a growing, man-made humanitarian crisis.

Gathered on a hill east of the fence, visible to the Gazan participants of the Great March of Return from the Gaza Strip, the activists brought Palestinian flags and signs calling to “Free the Gaza Ghetto” and for the Right of Return.

Our message today is to bring this struggle and our demands to the world. As the Great March of Return, we seek to hold Israel accountable for the illegal blockade, the illegal occupation and the subjugation of millions of people,” said Ahmed Abu Artema, a Palestinian member of the steering committee for the Great March of Return, while on the phone with Israeli protesters during the event. “Israel’s treatment of peaceful protesters and enforcing military presence that breaks international law and kills peaceful protesters is continuous and systematic. Today they shoot and kill us and bring iron rods to beat Israeli protesters who join our struggle. Today we are partners with you and you are partners with us in the continuous struggle for justice in this holy land. We will continue this struggle.

“The army, as usual, called upon some residents of the area to confront us with metal rods in their hands. But our message with this protest is one of solidarity, calling for an end to Israeli aggression and a call for Palestinian refugees who have been uprooted from their homes and robbed of their lands to be able to return home,” said Israeli community organizer Yossef Mekyton. “Our determination to remain calm and de-escalate the situation by listening and not reacting in violence sends an important message: We want peace, not violence.”

Background:

On November 11, Israeli special forces conducted a deadly operation inside the Gaza Strip. At least 15 Palestinians have been killed and another 26 were wounded since the Israeli incursion and artillery bombardment. Israeli shelling in the densely populated area has also led to the destruction of an Hamas-run TV station and numerous homes. One Israeli soldier lost their life during the military operations in Khan Younis City, sparking fears that another large-scale Israeli military assault on Gaza like those in 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2014 might be looming. The tension at the protest was highlighted by the violence of the counter-protesters.

“Today’s march comes after the latest barbaric attack on Gaza by apartheid Israel. We’ve decided to give it the title ‘Normalization is Treason’ to highlight Arab governments’ growing complicity and coordination with Israel,” said Dr. Haidar Eid, a Gazan organizer and Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip. “Israel would never be able to conduct these war crimes and crimes against humanity without the complicity of some Arab governments.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza confirmed that at least 52 Palestinians had been injured by live ammunition, while others suffered from tear gas inhalation during this Friday’s protest.

The Gaza Strip, with a population of nearly 2 million, of which 70% are refugees, has been under an illegal Israeli land, air and sea blockade since 2007. The 11-year-old Israeli military siege has put the Gaza Strip into a state of de-development. The prolonged blockade, which imposes import and export restrictions on the Gaza Strip, has crippled the economy, resulting in one of the highest unemployment rates in the world at 49%. This has been compounded by three wars in the last 11 years. Some 22,000 Gazans remain internally displaced as a result of Israel’s military campaign in 2014. The lack of construction materials, water, fuel, and electricity has put Gaza on course to be uninhabitable by 2020.

In response to the dire man-made humanitarian catastrophe that exists in the Gaza Strip, the Great March of Return protests began on March 30, 2018, as a nonviolent call for an end to Israel’s illegal military siege and a restoration of basic human rights.

Since the protests began seven months ago, Israeli forces have killed at least 210 Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave and wounded more than 24,000 people, according to a report by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. On May 14th, 2018, the day of commemoration of the Nakba–a day when Palestinians memorialize the approximately 750,000 Palestinians displaced in 1948–Israeli forces killed 59 Palestinians using live ammunition.

The massive death toll prompted an immediate investigation. Amnesty International described the live ammunition as “high-velocity military weapons designed to cause maximum harm to Palestinian protesters who do not pose an imminent threat to them,” and suggested the actions by the Israeli military amounted to “willful killing, a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and a war crime.”

Facts on Israel’s blockade of Gaza

  • 2,000,000 people live in the Gaza Strip, 71% are under the age of 30. ( Gisha.org )
  • Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip violates international law.  (ICRC50 others)
  • 49% of Gazans are unemployed. 65% of young people are unemployed.  ( Gisha.org )
  • 70% of the population in Gaza receive humanitarian aid. ( Gisha.org )
  • 96% of the water is from the taps is undrinkable.  ( Gisha.org )
  • The average supply of electricity in October was six hours a day. In November it increased to eleven hours. ( World Health Organization Situation Report )
  • 47% of essential drugs are at less than one month’s supply. ( World Health Organization Situation Report )

About Return: Return is a group of anti-Zionist Israelis working in solidarity with Palestinians in support of the Great March of Return.

All our videos are taken by photographer Haim Schwarzenberg, who documents Israeli oppression in various struggles: http://schwarczenberg.com

Israeli and International Activists Join Gazan Protestors in the Great Return March


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Reposted with permission from the author and the International Solidarity Movement:

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On the morning of October 10, 2018, ten activists from around the world delivered messages of support to the Great March of Return in the Eastern Gaza Strip via Skype, as a part of a ‘virtual rally’ entitled “Words Over Walls.”

The speakers hailed from countries as diverse as the US, UK, Brazil, South Africa and Norway. They included authors Mike Peled, Denny Cormier, Robert Martin, Mike Farah, and Peter Cohen and International Solidarity Movement volunteer Kristin Foss. Participants expressed their solidarity with the Marchers, their tactics and their goals. Musician and composer Mike Farah then sang an original song about the Palestinian’s Right of Return.

All people of conscience, all people who have a heart, regardless of nationality or religion, must stand with the brave people of Gaza and support their demand to be free and to return to their land and homes in Palestine. The siege on Gaza must be broken and the prison walls that surround Gaza must come down. Palestine must be free,” said author Mike Peled.

“[I’m] just an Australian man who wanted to see the truth, so I went to Palestine and was struck by the blatant abuse of Palestinians by Israel and the loving and welcoming by the Palestinian people,” said activist Robert Martin: “Everything I had read was wrong, the media had lied and I was embarrassed that I had believed [it].”

Additionally, group of anti-Zionist Israelis (Return) went near the fence to show solidarity with the Great Return March. They met and spoke with Palestinians activists but were separated by the Israeli siege fence and the Israeli Occupation Forces, who forced them to leave.

The Palestinian Media Youth Group, also known as the “16th October Group,” wishes to thank all of the speakers and hopes to see them soon in a free Palestine. 16th October is a youth Group from Gaza that works with internationals to reveal what is happening in Occupied Palestine, and to expose the brutality of the occupation.

Wafa Aludini, journalist from Gaza

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October 12: 29th Friday of the Great Return March


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While media coverage of the Great March of Return has greatly declined since the beginning of the protests on March 30, civilians in Gaza continue to organize the marches, with thousands participating every week. This week, while demonstrating peacefully on their own land, six Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and over 252 were wounded; 154 with live ammunition.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, over 183 protestors have been killed since the beginning of the marches, and over 18,000 injured.

Wednesday, October 10: Return invited to the fence by Palestinians


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On October 10, Return was invited to the Gaza fence by Palestinian activists for an event in support of the Great Return March and the right of return.

As Palestinians held a cultural event of traditional music and dancing in support of the right of return, the Israeli activists created a memorial by hanging pictures on the fence of Palestinian protestors executed by the Israeli army during the Great March of Return in previous months.

As the event took place, both group of activists were separated only by a a few dozen meters, and were able to see and speak to each other. Armed soldiers arrived and attempted to disperse the meeting. Activists from both sides chanted together to the rhythm of a drum, “free free Palestine”. The demonstrators left from both sides without incident, promising to meet each other again.

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IMG-7430All our videos are taken by photographer Haim Schwarzenberg, who documents Israeli oppression in various struggles: http://schwarczenberg.com

 

Friday, October 5: the Great March Continues, Return speaks with BDS activists in Gaza


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Last Friday, Gazans gathered on the other side during the weekly Great Return March for the 28th time in a row, calling for the right to return to their land and for an end to the suffocating decade-long siege.

About 30 Israeli activists, organized by Return, went to Malaka, right next to the Gaza siege fence, to demonstrate in solidarity.

The Israeli activists flew Palestinian flags and held a banner that said “Liberate the Gaza ghetto”. They created a small memorial for the Palestinians who have been murdered in past protests, and spoke with BDS activists in Gaza by phone to express solidarity. The army declared the area a closed military zone and demanded for everyone to leave. While the activists left this time, they promised to come back to stand together with the people of Gaza against the siege and their right to a full realization of return.

“We came to show our solidarity with the Palestinians that demonstrate on the other side. Our solidarity is with the right of return. We spoke with the demonstration that get killed there every week, also this week, and we will continue to come, will continue to protest in solidarity with them.” –A Return activist

This Friday, at least three Palestinians protestors were killed and 376 others were injured, including 126 by live gunfire, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. More than 198 Palestinians have been killed and over 22,000 other injured by Israeli forces at the Gaza fence since the start of the weekly Great March of Return protests on March 30. Still, the march continues.

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All our videos are taken by photographer Haim Schwarzenberg, who documents Israeli oppression in various struggles: http://schwarczenberg.com