With little left to lose, Gaza’s Great March of Return protesters ramp up their resistance

A photo of 11-year-old Nasser Musabeh, killed by Israeli troops during a protest in Gaza, is displayed in his Khan Younis classroom, Sep 29, 2018. (photo: Sanad Abu Latifa | AP)
The World Bank says the economic and social situation in Gaza has been declining for over a decade but has deteriorated exponentially in recent months and has reached a critical point.

By Joe Catron | Mint Press News | Oct 4, 2018

‘Between starving to death and living humiliated and oppressed on the one hand and struggling for a better life, for freedom and independence, on the other, many choose to fight back and, if need be, die trying.’
— Refaat Alareer, a literature professor at the Islamic University of Gaza

As the Great March of Return roared past its half-year anniversary last Friday, it also seemed to reach levels of resistance and repression not seen in months.

The escalation aims to “put more pressure on the Israeli occupation authorities, hoping they meet the protesters’ demands — lifting the siege and recognizing the right to return,” a spokesperson for the Hamas movement told MintPress News.

Every Friday since March 30, the demonstration has mobilized thousands of Palestinians to a military barrier erected by Israel around the Gaza Strip.

Protesting both an 11-year closure of the Palestinian enclave imposed by Israel and Egypt, and Israel’s ongoing refusal to allow millions of Palestinian refugees — including two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s population — to return to homes from which they were ethnically cleansed by Zionist and Israeli forces starting in December 1947, demonstrators have braved the tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and live gunfire of Israeli troops.

Many have died from it, with 176 losing their lives to Israeli fire between March 30 and September 22, according to the World Health Organization.

During the same period, 20,833 were injured — including 10,762 requiring hospitalization, 5,048 struck by live bullets, and 1,200 needing reconstructive surgery on wounded limbs.

Israel’s defenders say the repression is necessary to protect the state’s borders, a claim that has drawn mockery from critics who note that Israel has never acknowledged any borders.

“The Israeli occupation claims its soldiers shoot the protesters because they damage the borders,” the Hamas spokesperson said. “Let the Israelis tell us: do they have definite borders, and where are they?”

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A protester, injured by Israeli soldiers in a previous protest, watches as Palestinian boats ride towards Gaza border with Israel near Beit Lahiya, Sep 17, 2018. (photo: Adel Hana | AP)