GAZA, March 30, 2018 (WAFA) – Thousands of Palestinians Friday launched the Great March of Return in the besieged Gaza Strip to protest against Israel’s refusal to allow refugees right of return to their pre-1948 homes.
More Palestinians are expected to arrive to tent cities that have been set up in five locations along Gaza border, including Khan Younis, Rafah and al-Bureij refugee camp, to demand their right of return to their villages and towns they were forcibly displaced from in 1948.
The peaceful protests begin on March 30, which coincides with the 42nd anniversary of the Land Day, which marks the day Israeli forces killed six Palestinians during protests against land confiscation in 1976.
Organized by a large network of Palestinian activists, the 46-day mass protests are expected to continue until May 15, which marks the 70th anniversary of the Nakba (catastrophe), in which over 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes to make way for the creation of Israel in 1948.
Israeli officials have launched a campaign painting the Great March of Return as violent despite organizers’ statements that protesters are not seeking confrontation.
The Israeli cabinet has decided to beef up military deployments, including over 100 snipers, and use live fire and shoot-to-kill orders “if Palestinians breach (or approach)” the border fence.
Palestinian Red Crescent and Health Ministry have declared a state of emergency in all health centers in anticipation of any casualties during the Great March of Return in Gaza and the West Bank. Medical teams are already deployed along the eastern border of Gaza.
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics’ 2018 population census, Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip were 1.9 million people, 1.3 of them are refugees.
The March comes as part of Palestinian refugees continuous demand for the full implementation of the UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 1948, which stipulates that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”