The ‘March of Return’ Along the Palestinian ‘Path of Pain’

Prof. As’ad Abdul Rahman

Easter and the accompanying procession of Jesus Christ (the first Palestinian fedaye or resistance fighter) on the Path of Pain coincided with the ‘great march of return’ initiated by Palestinian masses (starting from Land Day on 30/3 to the middle of May, the 70th anniversary of the Nakba). The masses headed out from the depths of their large prison in the Gaza Strip and the areas of Israeli occupation, raising the slogan “uphold the right of return of Palestinian refugees”.

This march is not just a whirlwind in a cup, but a massive outpouring launched by the Palestinian people in Gaza (where the momentum was greatest), as well as in the West Bank, Jerusalem and inside the Green Line, refugee camps, and the Diaspora, resulting in 20 marchers martyred  and more than 1700 others wounded in its first week. The toll rose as the march heated up on the following Friday with protesters using burning tires to shield themselves from Israeli gunfire. Ten more martyred and more than 1354 injured including 491 by live ammunition with 33 reported in serious condition. Those Palestinians have said their word with red blood, drawing attention to their situation and their central national cause.

Political views from all over the world, including those from Israel,  showed that the marches over the past two weeks brought to light many Palestinian facts and gains. They include the following:

First: The Palestinian cause, despite all frustrations, remains live in the hearts and minds of the Palestinians.

Secondly: Commitment to no other than the Palestinian flag demonstrated the Palestinian people’s choice for national unity-albeit the current stalled reconciliation. Such commitment represented rejection of Palestinian division and all of those who ignite it and the need for a unified leadership that can lead the national struggle away from any factional or partisan narrow interests.

Thirdly: The momentum of the mass popular and peaceful struggle is restored, where the Palestinian factions appear in a new garb of the popular revolution, despite Israel’s attempts to drag them into armed clashes. This kind of peaceful mass struggle embarrasses Israel, pushes it in the corner and makes its violent and bloody reactions, subject to condemnation on the international scene.

Fourth: The international community is reminded of the fact that greater Israel is an illegal entity, established by usurping the land of Palestine and displacing its Arab people.

Fifth: Regional and international states and organizations were encouraged (in addition to embarrassing some countries that have been forced to do so, unwillingly) to condemn Israeli repression and demand an international investigation into mass shootings against isolated demonstrators who express their rights that have been stolen and confiscated.

Sixth: The ‘marginalized’ Palestine cause was put back on the world radar and on top of the regional and international agendas, thus ending indifference of the world community.

Seventh:  Shedding light on the tragedy and humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip, with  its eastern, southern and northern borders turned into new friction points between the Palestinians and the Israeli army, as well as attracting attention to the various sanctions on the Gaza Strip by working to lift them or at least ease them.

Eighth: Light shed on differences among the Israeli forces, parties and figures due to the violent method of handling the events of the marches and the army’s reaction with excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators. The disparity here is around the myth of “IDF ethics” as it turns into a “killing army” rather than the ‘defence’ army.

Ninth: A full debate should be reopened on the lack of attention to the need for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and attempts by the United States and Israel to draw a curtain on its legacy, its terms of reference and relevant internatioanl resolutions.

Tenth: The Israeli high financial costs incurred as a result of re-recruitment and deployment of various sectors of the army, security and “civil defence forces”. This included spoiling Israeli Jewish holidays (Pesach or Jewish Passover) among various sectors of army troops, their families and others especially those living in Jewish colonies along Gaza Strip border and in parts of the occupied West Bank.

The mass popular struggle on the non-violence basis has become one of the most effective forms of the current and future Palestinian struggle (without eliminating the right to armed struggle), which has already shown results in many situations, both in India and South Africa and elsewhere. Towards that end, the current development requires the forces of the Palestinian people to advance their performance through conscious interaction with these marches to provide backing and support, and take advantage of the fact that the popular Palestinian struggle will make Israel’s resort to its military superiority a blatant show of its racist nature. It is bound to emphasize that victory – in the end – is not to the oppressive occupier and blind force, but to the rights’ holder who is determined to exercise his rights with sacrifices, based on the awareness and role of the Palestinian national factions and parties, in any future confrontations towards achieving freedom and justice.