Responding to a call from Palestinian Civil society, a small group of NYC-based activists came together at Bryant Park on July 20, 2018 in solidarity with Palestinians’ Great March of Return in Gaza, showcasing photos and sharing stories of those killed during the protests along the Gaza Strip border fence.
The Great March of Return is a historic non-violent resistance action, which marks 70 years of colonization of Historical Palestine, beginning with the creation of Israel in 1948. Referred to as the Nakba or ‘Catastrophe’, Palestinians commemorate the ethnic cleansing and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their villages and homes. Many Gazans are direct descendants of those displaced refugees, and still hold the keys to their homes.
Since the weeks-long protests began on March 30, at least 145 Palestinians have been killed and 15,000 wounded, according to health officials in Gaza (statistics from the 20th of July). Around the world, people of conscience mourn the killing of civilians, who demand that Palestinian Refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to what is now Israel, a right which is internationally protected according to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Fourth Geneva Convention.
Solidarity activists showcased images of martyrs, such as Razan an-Najjar, a 21-year old paramedic killed while treating the wounded, the young journalist and father Yasser Murtaja who was wearing is “PRESS” jacket when he was shot, and Layla Ghandour, an 8-month-old Palestinian girl who fell ill after inhaling tear gas. Such brazen attacks constitute war crimes, and activists seek to send the message that Palestinian Lives Matter. Many of the wounded have suffered limb amputations due to an Israeli policy to target protesters’ legs. Football player Mohamed Khalil’s career ended early when a sniper shot both of his knees, and will require knee replacement surgery if he is ever to walk again.
With conditions worsening for Palestinians living under Israeli-imposed air, sea, and land blockade in Gaza, the march is also seen as a large-scale rejection of the United States’ role in the conflict, including provision of over $3 billion in military aid to Israel and Trump’s recent decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Activists in NYC join a worldwide demand to outcry to end to the massacre of civilians in Gaza, an end to occupation and siege, implementation of refugee’s right to return, accountability for Israel’s crimes, and collective liberation for all. This action was organized by independent activists including members of All That’s Left Anti-Occupation Collective, MuJew Antifa, and IfNotNow. Follow up to date news with the hashtag, #GreatReturnMarch.
Text and pictures from the page of Erik McGregor, photojournalist. Erik McGregor is a New York City based artist, photographer and activist. Erik is a member of the People’s Puppets of Occupy Wall Street and co-writer of the Occupy Wall Street’s Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. As a published freelance photographer, he has documented activist groups actions in NYC since 2011.