Protests erupted in the Palestinian Gaza State on 30 March as part of the Great March of Return, a non-violent demonstration demanding the right of return for refugees of Palestine. A mass gathered for the second week at the Israeli border and it has been reported that around 2,000 have been injured. As these protests continue, the death toll rises and the speculation that war crimes may have been committed by both Hamas and Israel remains. What is certain is that Palestine will not rest until justice is achieved.
Unfortunately, Palestine has seen its deadliest day since 2014, with over two dozen killed. Israel defended itself, stating that it is protecting the border and a potential mass crossing that could destroy the frontier. Israel has been heavily criticised for their excessive use of force by some world leaders, and organisations are demanding investigations into the deaths. Essentially, the conditions in Gaza somewhat mimic an open-air prison and hence residents dream of returning to their land, a dream that has passed through generations.
Even though there have been countless protests since the Israel-Palestine conflict began, these protests are still significant, especially for Palestine, as it expressed a certain level of civility by approaching these protests with a peaceful motive. As a reaction, there has been preemptive action from Israel which has blocked many people from joining the Israeli border protests. As planned protests continue, Israel and Palestine will surge into the international spotlight, by way of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has prompted a primary investigation into the Israeli army and alleged crimes that it has committed in Palestine. Although Israel is not a member of the ICC, it nevertheless can still fall under its jurisdiction.
Gaza residents are blockaded and have been for over a decade. These protests will reinstate to the international community that Israel’s approach towards Palestinian protests is seemingly aggressive and lacks a motive for peaceful negotiations. Palestine wants justice and consequently freedom, yet is met with Israeli force. Palestine wants its homeland, not blood. Al Jazeera’s Marwan Bishara, a senior political analyst, stated strongly that “They[Palestinians] don’t want crumbs from the Israeli table. They want to be able to share their historical land- Palestine- with the Israelis on an equal footing.”
Bombardment will not pave a path towards peace, especially in such a sensitive situation like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Peace progress is completely threatened when force is the first response. Palestine is persistent and will continue to push for desired rights, particularly a return to its land and, moreover, the recognition of a Palestinian state. Seemingly, tension and unrest will persist with these protests- as part of the Great March of Return – are planned to carry on until the mid-May.
An international audience will be watching and the future steps of Israel and their use of force will be closely monitored by the international community. As this conflict advances, Israel and Palestine must demonstrate a desire for progress towards peace.
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