March 30th marks the one year anniversary of the Great March of Return protests in Gaza. In 2018, on the 42nd anniversary of the Arab strike against Israeli land appropriation in 1976, thousands of displaced Palestinians living in the largest open air prison in the world gathered at the security fence in Gaza to protest their expulsion from the borders of Israel on the basis of their nationality and the ongoing blockade of the Gaza strip which has restricted their access to food, water and other essentials. Israel responded with brutality and by May 15th, the anniversary of the 1948 Nakba, 183 protestors had been killed by live fire, tear gas and other repressive measures. Some of the slain were children, medical personnel and journalists. Over 9,000 protestors were shot or hit by shrapnel and wounded. This kind of force is characteristic of a state defending the ethnic privilege of some of its citizens against the human rights of those that it sees as less than human. Just 9 days from today’s date, on March 21st 1960, the massacre of 69 South African protestors by the apartheid government in Sharpeville galvanized the international community to condemn and take action against South Africa’s unjust system of racial discrimination. 34 years later, South Africa would vote in the face of overwhelming international pressure to abolish its apartheid regime in favor of inclusive government.
One year after yet another massacre in Gaza, we are left to wonder how much blood the world will allow to be shed in Palestine before it stands united to demand justice and reconciliation for the atrocities of the past and the grim realities of everyday life under occupation. Today we remember those killed in Gaza for demanding their right to return to their homes and their dignity and reaffirm our solidarity with the Great March of Return.
Students for Justice in Palestine