By Mel Dikert
For the past two weeks, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been gathering at the Gaza Strip’s border in what is being called the Great March of Return to demand the right for Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.
The protests have been dubbed the Land Day protests due to their starting on March 30, which is known as Land Day. Having the events start on Land Day is meant to honor and show respect for six Palestinian citizens of Israel who, on March 30, 1976, protested against the government taking large pieces of Palestinian land. As a consequence of their protesting, the six were shot and killed by Israeli forces. The protests will last until May 15, otherwise known as Nakba, which marks the 70 year anniversary of around 750,000 Palestinians being “expelled from their villages and towns by Zionist militias in 1948,” says Al Jazeera.
Since the Land Day protests started on March 30, the total number of Palestinians killed has reached 34 people, but the number of people left injured due to Israeli forces attacking the protesters in an effort to get them to stop has gone past 3,000. According to Al Jazeera, Israeli forces have been firing “live ammunition, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesting Palestinians.”
“This is horrible and they should completely get rid of their open-fire policy considering how many people were killed and injured. They should have a negotiation of some sorts to end this unnecessary violence,” said Samantha Cocchi (‘21).
Israel has been receiving severe criticism from leaders of several countries for its orders to open fire at these protesters along the border since peaceful protests are considered a fundamental human right. After the “killing of 17 unarmed Palestinian protesters near the Gaza Strip’s eastern border,” the United Nations Security Council submitted a “draft statement… that called for an investigation into the killing of 17 unarmed Palestinian protesters” says Al Jazeera. However, it was blocked by the United States.
Even after being criticised for its forceful ways, Avigor Lieberman, Israel’s minister of Defense, has said that the open-fire policy will not be changed. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, even went so far as to praise the Israeli military for their work.
“As an Ashkenazi Jew of Polish and Russian immigrants, my understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian struggle is not nearly as complex and intricate as is necessary to correctly formulate an opinion to which I can effectively defend. However, as a citizen of the United States I recognize that our militant role throughout the world has caused great harm to countries’ domestic and international stability in regards to the U.S.’s historical and contemporary force of their colonialist and imperialist interests,” said Emily Bogartz-Brown (‘20) about the matter. She continued, saying, “Thus, I am hesitant to support the violence of a country who is supported by the United States. It is in my opinion that the state of Israel is abusing the Jewish religion, specifically the exile of the Jews by the Egyptians, to create yet another wave of persecution towards a new generation of people; and the cycle continues.”