Palestinians protesting during the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip in 2018.
(Photo by Mati Milstein)
One year has passed since Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip launched the Great March of Return protests, which continue to be held every Friday along the fence with Israel.
Most discussions around the protests focus on the Israeli military’s brutal response to the demonstrations, and the impunity with which Israeli snipers use live fire to intentionally kill or wound Palestinian protestors, without fear of consequences. Adalah warned Israeli authorities again this week not to continue its policies at this weekend’s anniversary of the march.
As Adalah, Al Mezan and our partners have found – and as the 2018 UN Commission of Inquiry confirmed – these actions violate international law, and yet Israeli authorities have proven to be unwilling to properly investigate or punish the perpetrators for their crimes.
WATCH: Adalah International Advocacy Coordinator Soheir Asaad at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 18 March 2019 on Israel's response to Gaza's Great March of Return.
However, it is also crucial to remember why Palestinians in Gaza launched the march in the first place: to reclaim their right to return to their homeland.
This is why the demonstrations began on 30 March – Land Day – which marks Palestinians' resistance to the state’s expropriation of mass tracts of their land in Galilee in 1976. During these protests, six unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by police.
The Palestinian struggle to defend their land and homes remains as vital today as it was 43 years ago.
Just this year, for example, Israeli authorities announced plans to forcibly transfer 36,000 Bedouin citizens from their homes in the Naqab, in order to make way for a military industrial zone, a phosphate mine, and expanded highways - plans that Adalah is challenging before Israeli courts and planning committees.
A Bedouin woman in the Naqab village of Umm al-Hiran surveys the remains of her home after its demolition by Israeli authorities in 2017. (Photo by Mati Milstein)
These plans are being given legal backing by discriminatory legislation such as the Jewish Nation-State Law (JNSL), which enshrines Jewish supremacy as a constitutional rule and bears the distinct characteristics of apartheid.
Article 7 of this law, which calls on the state to promote Jewish settlement as a national and constitutional value, will intensify Israel’s racist land policy on both sides of the Green Line and put thousands more Palestinians at risk of displacement and dispossession.
The Israeli elections next month foreshadow a continuation of these policies in Israel and in the 1967 Occupied Territories. As a result, Palestinians’ rights to their lands, their livelihoods and their lives are under greater threat than ever.