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Thousands Marching In Gaza
March 31, 2018In Gaza, thousands are marching -- one of the many unarmed actions planned over 45 days which will build through May 15, when Palestinians mark 70 years since hundreds of thousands were made refugees during the war of 1948. Protest organizers are calling for an end to the siege in Gaza and for the realization of their rights and freedoms. Meanwhile, Israeli activists are organizing solidarity protests along the Gaza border this Saturday.
Today's march, which Palestinians had been planning from the grassroots for months, has already turned tragic. Twelve Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured as Israeli army snipers have opened live fire on the protestors. As is often the case, we risk losing the bigger picture as incident-by-incident reporting focused on riots and clashes dominates the news. Which is why I'm writing now.
Just days ago, Rami Younis, a writer for Local Call and +972 Magazine, interviewed Hasan al-Kurd, one of the 20 grassroots protest organizers in Gaza. Rami wanted to know what the planned actions were meant to achieve, and what message Palestinians in Gaza wanted to send Israelis and audiences around the globe. Hasan replied:
"We want to send a message that we want to live in peace with the Israelis [...] Israel will have two options. Either they end the siege or they start negotiations - direct or indirect, it doesn't really matter, as long as we get a chance to live in dignity and there is relief for the pain and suffering of everyone here in Gaza.
But for the last several weeks, media outlets in Israel have been misrepresenting the story, quoting generals and politicians who claimed the protests were planned and run by violent extremists. Rami, who was interviewed yesterday on the Israeli news show London et Kirschenbaum (in Hebrew), set the record straight: the planned peaceful marches were being organized by the grassroots, while Israel canceled Passover leave and deployed snipers and special forces along the border fence, ready to meet unarmed protestors with lethal force.
How this story is told, in real time, matters. We can't afford to ignore context, or the concerns and demands of the thousands of unarmed protestors marching today. I encourage you to follow +972 Magazine's live blog for coverage from the ground. If you read Hebrew, you can follow Local Call's coverage here.
This weekend, many of us are celebrating Passover or Easter, holidays that represent freedom from oppression and revival, and as Spring rolls in, new beginnings. For those who are celebrating, may it be a meaningful and reflective time. I'll be holding that energy in my heart this weekend as I think of the thousands of men, women and children in Gaza who are marching with a simple demand: to be free, to live in dignity and to share equal rights with their neighbors.
If you're a journalist or know journalists who are interested in covering this story please be in touch with Daniel Nerenberg, our Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected with voices from the ground.
Executive Director, Just Vision
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