Palestinians stage a demonstration within the Great March of Return in Khan Yunis, Gaza. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The first Friday of the march, which is inspired by the right of return of these refugees, was attended by more than 30,000 unarmed civilians, who set up tents along the frontier and engaged in alternative means of resistance, such as reading, singing and dancing, in a scene reminiscent of the early days of Tahrir Square. The nonviolent nature of the march did not deter Israeli snipers, lined up behind the security fence, from killing at least 16 protesters and injuring more than 750. Yet, despite the high number of casualties, thousands marched to the border the following Friday, in an impressive display of defiance. At least nine more were killed, yet the risks are unlikely to dissuade people from going again next Friday.
Gaza photographer’s last video captures brutal crackdown on protests
Israels defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said last week that there were “no innocent people” in Gaza, justifying Israels targeted shooting at unarmed civilians. Put simply, Palestinians in Gaza are being left with nothing to lose. Decades of life under siege and occupation have turned the territory into a disaster zone. Almost every aspect of Gazas unbearable situation, which has fuelled this protest, could have been avoided had the world forced Israel to respect Palestinian rights and to comply with international law. Yet other governments did little to acknowledge that the innocent are being collectively punished in Gaza.
The time has surely come for the people of Gaza to take matters into their own hands, and the ongoing march is a powerful representation of that will. Its organisers are activists who are unaffiliated with any political group. Thousands of people from all walks of life have attended, carrying nothing but the Palestinian flag. They are united not just by their frustration, desperation and loss of hope, but also in their strong desire to live a dignified life; a desire so strong that even the fear of death does not deter it.
As for Yasser, his 30-year dream of leaving Gaza has finally been realised; he has left it for ever, but without seeing any other place in the world. He left behind 2 million people who will continue to share his dream, but for how much longer?
• Yasmeen el Khoudary is an independent Palestinian researcher and writer
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