Glorious Land Day: A gift from a great people

Mustafa Barghouti
Wednesday 11 Apr 2018

Once again the Palestinian people, especially their valiant sons and daughters, have accomplished astonishing deeds in the Gaza Strip

Tens of thousands of men, women, elderly people and children have taken part in popular protests to affirm the Palestinian people's hold on their homeland and the right of refugees to return to the homes from which they were driven.

Once again, the unity of the Palestinian people has been reaffirmed through parallel protests in the 1948 Land and in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and wherever the Palestinians are located abroad.

Land Day is an established symbol of Palestinian unity, but this time the unity was embodied by the participants on the field of struggle, completely ignoring political divisions and the fight over authority, which is totally under the control of the occupation.

Land Day this year was a day of glory for the popular resistance as an idea, an approach and the practice of struggle, having been embraced by all the national and Islamist forces who have seen its effectiveness and impact.

Sixteen years after it was launched in opposition to the recist apartheid wall, its content has deepened through various actions: demonstrations against settlements; ships breaking the Gaza blockade; the resisting villages, such as Bab Al-Shams, Ahfad Yunus and Al-Manatir; through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement; and the popular uprising that forced Netanyahu to back off from his measures against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

From the early beginnings of the first demonstrations against Gaza's borders, the popular resistance has reached a new peak, due to the comprehensive popular participation in the March for Return in Gaza on Land Day.

Undoubtedly, the conscious and organised adoption of popular resistance represents a sign of maturity in the struggle among the entire Palestinian national movement. At the same time, it is a challenge to all the Palestinian forces to participate with full force, bearing in mind that it is one of the key foundations of the Palestinian national strategy for changing the balance of power in favour of the BDS movement.

In spite of the martyrdom of sixteen Palestinians and the injury of 1,800 others in just one day, the bravery and heroism of huge numbers of Palestinian people have reaffirmed a total popular rejection of the Trump administration's decisions.

These decisions were related to Jerusalem and the "Deal of the Century" and aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause and establishing malicious normalisation projects at the expense of the Palestinian people and their national cause.

Holding on to the right of return in practice was a suitable response to the Trump administration’s aim of strangling UNRWA as a means of liquidating the rights of Palestinian refugees. Given the failure of the Oslo accords to provide a viable solution, the masses have asserted the existence of an actual alternative path to resistence.

Israel was terrified by the prospect of a victorious return of the events of the first popular Intifada, and its foundations were shaken because the number of Palestinians on the historical land of Palestine has exceeded that of Israeli Jews.

However, what Israel's forces have done under the leadership of its Chief of General Staff Eizenkot, by firing live bullets at peaceful, unarmed Palestinians demonstrators, is a great scandal and an unforgivable war crime.

The use of live bullets isn't proof of strength but rather a manifestation of the Israeli side’s weakness and the futility of its attempts to prevent the popular protests

Here, we must clarify the false Israeli narrative that claimed that the martyrs and the injured were hit while they were trying to cross the fence from the Gaza Strip.

Everybody has seen that they were injured while they were inside the so-called buffer zone within the Gaza Strip, which was imposed by the occupation army, an area that amounts to no less than 24 percent of Gaza.

We must keep in mind the Gazans' right to access those villages and towns from which they were driven out, such as Al-Majdal, Hamama and Al-Masamiya and others.

Israeli snipers didn't restrict their crimes to the Gaza Strip, for they also confronted our demonstrations in Ramallah in front of the Beit El settlement and other demonstrations in the West Bank in the same way.

Despite the great loss of life and those injured, mostly in the Gaza Strip, the amazing success of Land Day and the March for Return, represents a starting point for a movement that will continue and a popular resistance that will escalate.

This should be an incentive to political leaders to transform the unity of the struggle on the ground into a comprehensive and complete ending of divisions and the achievement of national unity based on real partnership and joint struggle.

The bravery of the Gazans confirms the necessity that everybody should help them and criminalise any form of harm done to them.

These events should lead to the immediate transfer to the International Criminal Court of the criminal Israeli soldiers and officers, headed by Eizenkot.

As for the foreign parties and governments equating the victim with the executioner and not commenting on what has taken place except for asking both sides to adopt self-restraint, we must remind them of lectures and advice in which their representatives spoke at length about the necessity of the Palestinians organising peaceful rallies in their thousands.

Well, the Palestinian people have done it in their tens of thousands. Shall we see these governments impose any form of sanctions on Israel due to the brutal force it has used against unarmed demonstrators?

Regardless of what they do, the Palestinian people have regained the awareness of the first popular Intifada and the perception that they should apply self-reliance first and that the way to success is through self-organisation and challenging and resisting the decisions of the occupation and the apartheid system.

May our valiant martyrs achieve immortality and the injured have a speedy recovery, and all respect goes to our people, especially the Gazans, who have once more proved their greatness.

*The writer is Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative.

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