[News] Gaza - Why we protest
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Apr 22 11:35:12 EDT 2019
Why we protest
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/mohammed-zaanoun> - 22 April 2019
More than 200 Palestinians have been killed since the launch of the
Great March of Return
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/great-march-return> along Gaza’s
boundary with Israel on 30 March 2018.
Palestinians participating in the protest series are demanding their
right to return to the lands on the other side of the boundary from
which their families were expelled decades earlier.
Every two in three Palestinians in Gaza is a refugee.
Protesters are also calling for an end to Israel’s land, sea and air
blockade on Gaza, now in its 12th year, which has plunged the territory
into poverty and despair.
Mohammed Zaanoun, a member of the Activestills photo collective, has
documented the Great March of Return since its beginning.
Here protesters tell their stories and explain why they come back to the
boundary week after week, despite Israel’s brutal crackdown.
*Husam, 25, from Khan Younis, southern Gaza*
Last Friday, when I had the Palestinian flag painted on my face, I was
hit by a gas canister directly in my back. I was badly injured and
transferred to a hospital. I’m now being treated at home. I wish to
recover so I can go [back to the protests] next Friday.
Despite the killings and the injuries, I am still going. I think I will
keep participating even if it lasts for nine years, not just nine
months. One of the worst things I’ve seen was one of the Fridays during
which about 60 people were killed, when they [soldiers] were killing
youth randomly and shooting towards heads and legs. It was a horrific
day. I felt like I was in a nightmare.
It was so hard when I could not save one of my comrades who was bleeding
on the ground after being injured by an Israeli sniper, and then he
died. I can’t understand how they can kill unarmed people.
After nine months, the world is still not doing anything. We need them
to stand with us and to stop the killing of the unarmed youth by the
*Ahmad, 24, from Gaza City*
I am a young person who is looking for stability but the occupation has
killed all of my dreams and ambitions. It is an occupation of the mind.
The challenge in my life is finding a job or any opportunity. We join
the demonstrations because this is our land and to demand our rights.
But we are making progress through our resistance and our commitment to
continue the peaceful, popular struggle. Many of my friends were
martyred. I will keep on the path of my comrades, although everything is
very difficult here in Gaza.
I was injured many times. Once by tear gas and the other by a bullet.
But I came back to the field.
*Shireen, 20, from al-Shujaiya, east of Gaza City*
When I go to the protests, I express the anger inside me. We are a
nation under siege in a very small area of 360 square kilometers, like a
big prison. One of the worst things I’ve seen was when my sister was
injured by a bullet. I did not know what had happened, only that she was
bleeding a lot.
The women are the biggest part of the grassroots movement. Our
participation means that our strength as a nation comes from both genders.
I did not face any difficulties or criticism from anybody. On the
contrary, we found great support from men, families and friends for our
participation as women.
With the Great March of Return, the world has become aware that there is
a nation demanding its rights and that we will not stay silent. The
world should support us. I want to live in a developed, free society,
which has no occupation, killing or destruction. We are looking for
freedom and we will seize it.
*Ismail, 22, from central Gaza*
I do my duty towards my homeland, therefore I join the March of Return.
Even if it lasts forever, I will keep coming. I think we are about to
realize our goals despite all of the oppression and the siege. It’s a
new way to defend our rights and it destabilizes the occupying forces.
There is no clear future for young people. I am part of the young
generation who wish to have a future and dream of nice things like all
young people around the world. We have been under siege since I was 11
years old. I grew up and I learned the meaning of not being able to find
a job or even to travel.
I was injured in my head by a gas canister and I stayed at the hospital
for a while with many of my friends. Some of them lost a limb and some
were injured by gas and others by an explosive bullet in the stomach.
I wish for the world to stand on the side of justice and support us. We
are strong and we need them to be next to us. I wish one day I wake up
and I find our society finally opened towards the Arab and the Western
world, dominated by love and stability.
*Muhammad, 20, from al-Shujaiya, east of Gaza City*
I come from a poor family. I cannot get an education because of the
terrible living conditions and the fact that my father cannot afford to
pay for my studies. I join the protests every week because I believe we
have the right to go back to our houses that we were forced from. I was
not alive at the time that my grandparents were displaced from their
homes. But today, I am affirming my right to return to my grandparents’
There is no future for young people in Gaza. It’s hard losing comrades
in the March of Return after snipers shot them with bullets. We usually
remember their last words and this pushes us to keep going. I was
injured twice, once seriously, but I got back my strength and I rejoined
the march. We don’t ask anything from the world but to watch how we can
change our reality with our own hands. We need freedom and stability. We
want a homeland without occupation.
*Aya, 21, from Gaza City*
I know I could be killed by Israeli snipers, but if I stay home the
siege will become worse and the world will forget our cause.
We [women] are strong, just like men, and we will take part in political
change. Instead of criticism we received full support from men, family
and friends. No one can prevent us from taking part in the protests.
At the March of Return, you witness many terrible things. The bloodiest
day was 14 May, which was full of tragic scenes that broke our hearts as
we watched Israelis killing young people in cold blood. I was injured
many times and I recovered and returned to take part with my friends. I
have lost loved ones but we are following their path and we will meet in
We have sent a strong message to the world to support us and to put
pressure on the occupier to stop its oppression. We are waiting for that
to happen, and we continue Protesting.
*Asma, 23, from Gaza City*
We women are making a difference in the history of confronting the
occupation. We make sure to always be there because we are part of this
cause. Yes, women have a role in politics and the struggle. Women and
men stand shoulder to shoulder and there is no difference in the way we
confront soldiers. I am supported by my family, brothers and friends and
there is no criticism from men. On the contrary, they support us.
We have lost martyrs and many others were injured. The only thing the
world does is that it condemns the excessive killing, which is very bad
for us. But we need to see the world uphold its responsibilities towards
Palestine and Gaza.
I’m looking forward to a society that has freedom and culture and in
which women are equal to men, such as in the March of Return.
/Aya, 21, from Gaza City/
I participate because it is our duty to demand our full rights, as the
Palestinian people, despite the killing and the injuries. This is the
march of a nation.
I ask Avichay Adraee [the Israeli the army spokesperson who advised
Palestinian women on Twitter that it was best for them to stay at home]
to sit next to his wife instead of spreading foolish speech. I have
witnessed so many scenes of children being killed and the targeting of
women, medics and the press. My oldest sister was seriously wounded but
thank God she survived and she returned to the protest again. After all
that time, the Return march continues and will not stop.
I wish that the world would stop the oppression of the occupation and
the killing of innocent, unarmed people. The difficult thing in my life
is that I’m looking for a future amid the darkness. I wish to live in a
society like any other Arab or Western society where there are no wars
or killings, only justice, equality, love and peace.
/Raghda, 18, from Gaza City/
To live in Gaza means that you’ll continuously suffer due to long
electricity outages and the inability to do homework, in addition to the
sounds of explosions. My dream is to be a doctor in order to save the
lives of wounded people.
I confront Israelis on the boundary and I’m not afraid of their fire.
The world must do something to save our lives.
*Hidaya, 39, from Gaza City*
It is our right to defend our land. I am aware of the dangers we face
but if I stay home, that’s more dangerous for us.
My youngest son was seriously injured in his stomach. I asked God to
keep him alive and thank God he is well now and he is still
participating in the March of Return. I was injured twice and I
recovered very quickly.
I was expecting that the world would put pressure on the occupation, but
after Trump announced the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, I
realized that the world is abetting in the crimes against Palestinians.
I wish nations would wake up from their sleep and stand up to the
oppressive occupation. I wish for Palestine to be liberated from the
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