Tens of Thousands March on Gaza Border, Israeli Troops Open Fire

A Palestinian protester uses a sling shot to throw stones in the direction of the border fence during the Great Return March, east of Shajaia. March 30, 2018. (+972 Magazine)A Palestinian protester uses a sling shot to throw stones in the direction of the border fence during the Great Return March, east of Shajaia. March 30, 2018. (+972 Magazine)

by +972 Magazine staff

Tens of thousands of Palestinians protested at the Gaza-Israel border fence on Friday, marking the beginning of the “Great Return March,” a 45-day-long series of protests and events planned to culminate on May 15 — Nakba Day. The organizers of the Gaza return march had said explicitly that the protest was meant to be nonviolent yet Israeli forces fired live bullets and tear gas at the demonstrators.

Israeli troops killed at least 12 Palestinians during Friday’s protests, which took place at several points along the besieged coastal strip’s border. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that more than 1,100 people were wounded from gunfire and teargas inhalation. The Israeli army reported zero injuries among its troops.

Even before the march began Israeli security forces launched a public campaign painting the ‘Great Return March’ as a violent, Hamas-sponsored event. The Israeli army’s chief of staff announced the deployment of 100 snipers and several infantry brigades to the area of the Gaza border fence. Israeli generals warned ahead of time that there will be Palestinian casualties.

Palestinian youth approach the border fence as Israeli snipers look on from a mound of dirt on the other side, east of Shajaia, Gaza, during the start of the ‘Great Return March.’ March 30, 2017. (+972 Magazine)

Palestinian youth approach the border fence as Israeli snipers look on from a mound of dirt on the other side, east of Shajaia, Gaza, during the start of the ‘Great Return March.’ March 30, 2017. (+972 Magazine)

The Israeli army personally threatened bus company owners and their families against transporting protesters to the border. “From my point of view,” COGAT Gen. Yoav Mordechai told Al-Hura TV, “if bus companies you own take some of the protesters and bring them to the border, you and your families will be held personally responsible.”

Friday’s march in Gaza also coincided with the anniversary of Land Day, which itself commemorates how in 1976 Israeli security forces responded to a general strike and mass protest of Palestinian citizens of Israel by killing six and wounding some 100 others.

On Land Day and Nakba Day in 2011, thousands of Palestinians from Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, and inside Israel marched on the country’s borders. On the Lebanese, Syrian, and Gaza borders, the army responded with gunfire, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.

Republished, with permission, from +972 Magazine.

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  1. Israeli Gen. Yoav Mordechai threatened Gazan bus company owners: “you AND YOUR FAMILIES will be held personally responsible.” A reminder of Israel’s application of collective punishment– a war crime under the 1949 Geneva Convention and a practice recognized as barbaric in civilized countries.

  2. Of course Israeli troops fired lived bullets at the unarmed protesters. Israel’s greatest fear is a large non-violent protest movement that coupled with a peaceful civil disobedience campaign has the potential to focus world attention on the lack of Palestinian civil rights.

    The Israelis will be doing everything they can to turn this protest into a violent confrontation so they can utilize their standard claim that the Palestinians are violent savages who need to be controlled militarily.

    The question is now: Can the Palestinians resist the temptation to fight back in the face of extreme Israeli provocation (and thus do exactly what Israel wants) or can they continue with their peaceful protest?

  3. One word in the opening paragraphs tells the story of the ongoing tragedy in this part of the world: “Nabka!”

    This never had to happen if the then Arab residents of Palestine had accepted the UN partition instead of joining with surrounding Arab states in attacking the new state of Israel. You start a war and lose, there are consequences — none of them good. The “nabka” was in starting the war, not the establishment of the state of Israel. Everything that has since followed had its genesis in the initiation of aggressive war!

    Too bad, they could have lived side by side in peace and one can only imagine what these two peoples might actually have accomplished together in that part of the world. Of course, several of the surrounding totalitarian regimes would not have wanted that to occur as they might then have had to face their own internal problems instead of directing attention to the Isarelis and Palestinians.

  4. @Frederick C Taylor

    Why should the indigenous people of Palestine accept that a bunch of largely European immigrants came to their land, refused to assimilate, and then tried to drive them out of it? Would you? Your claim that it was the indigenous people of Palestine, and other neighbouring countries, that started the war is untrue.

  5. Indigenous? Somehow I don’t think “Palestine” or “Palestinian” is an Arabic or Aramaic word. However, don’t let historical roots get in the way of your narrative!

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