Opinion article by: Yassir Abdel Ghafor
Every Friday of the Great March of Return ends up with dozens of Palestinians being killed or wounded due to the excessive use of force by the Israeli occupation forces. This regular occurrence stirs controversy among the supporters and opponents of the Palestinian mass protests.
Having taken part in all consecutive Fridays of the Great March of Return and covered the Israeli violations against the civilian protesters, I have concluded the following points based on my observation.
The Great March of Return, especially at its beginning, has demonstrated an extraordinary national manifestation because it revived the national spirit and proved that all or the vast majority of the Palestinian people and factions could minimally agree on confronting the occupation and on some legitimate demands: right of return and breaking the siege.
The continuation of the Great March of Return has highlighted that the Palestinian people, including kids, women, the elderly, and men, are prepared to make enormous sacrifices to gain their freedom and remove the blockade.
All the Palestinians decide to participate in the popular protests on their own, without being pushed to that. If participated, no one would force them to approach the separation fence, where the Israeli occupation forces are deployed and ready to open fire on the peaceful protesters.
The frequent heroic scenes of unarmed guys and girls protesting near the border fence imply that the Palestinian people have overcome fearing the occupier despite its violent crackdown on the peaceful demonstrators.
Marching near the border fence to protest against the 12-year-long Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip will neither change the peaceful nature of the Great March of Return nor serve the Israeli occupation forces a pretext to perpetrate atrocities against the Palestinian civilians, on senior political and military Israeli leaders’ orders.
All segments of the Palestinian people, regardless of their political viewpoints or social class have been participating in the popular protests, exhibiting all extremes of the Palestinian political and social spectrum.
There is no doubt that the increasing number of the Palestinians killed or wounded by the Israeli occupation has triggered outrage among some of the Palestinians due to a chronic shortage of medicines and medical supplies in Gaza’s hospitals despite the enormous efforts exerted by the medical staffs to cope.
On the other hand, we hear the following argument whenever the Palestinian resistance takes a decision on how to resist the occupation. If it calls for armed resistance, it is accused of failing to manipulate the status quo. Some people cast doubt on its role if it launches military maneuvers to confront any future Israeli aggression. Others also claim that the resistance has made concessions on the Palestinian cause when endeavoring to hammer out a ceasefire agreement with the Israeli occupation that would alleviate the plight of the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, once the Palestinian resistance calls for peaceful, popular protests, they accuse it of abandoning the option of armed resistance. When it responds to the Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people, some label it as ‘warmonger’. Such claims, indeed, are made to voice harsh criticism against the Palestinian resistance, no more no less.
Nevertheless, we cannot deny that there are some voices calling for evaluating the Great March of Return on a regular basis and conducting a thorough review of what happened and what would happen in order to achieve the Palestinians’ demands at any cost.
We can do nothing, but honoring the sacrifices that the Palestinian people have been making in their battle for their rights; liberating Palestine requires us to pay a heavy price.
In my point of view, the Great March of Return has achieved some of its objectives so far, but, most importantly, we should seek an objective assessment of how we can benefit from these great national protests.