Hossam talks about the Great Right of Return protests in Gaza

The demonstrations and protests are totally peaceful, demonstrators do not have any weapons. They set car tyres on fire and the smoke only harms them. They throw stones at nobody as there are no solders nearby. Some try to reach the fence to hang up the Palestinian flag. Many are going for patriotic reasons, many kids are going just to watch. Many people are cooking for the demonstrators, many are practicing creative activities, playing football. The majority are protesting passively, some young men, youth are trying to reach the fence to take it down.  But people in tents well away from the fence have been shot by the Israelis.

People here are running out of hope. With the rapid deterioration of the situation in Gaza new phenomena have started to appear that we never ever witnessed before. Child labour and children begging at traffic lights, homeless families, escalating rates of attempted suicides among young people between 14-35 year olds, robberies and attacks on stores, all of which we never ever witnessed in Gaza before. With borders closed from all sides, with 64% unemployment amongst young people under 35 years old, with no horizon of any hope, it is easy to assume that most of those young people going to the border every Friday are not moved by patriotism but by hopelessness.

Originally it was the idea of civil society peace activists who started to communicate their ideas on Facebook.

The original idea was to start to educate the Palestinians about peaceful resistance, to convince people here of the value of peaceful resistance, and to spread their ideas among Palestinians everywhere and not only in Gaza.

They knew that this would take time and they were in no hurry. They wanted to reach a day where Palestinians in Gaza, in West Bank, in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Syria were coming to the border with Israel to protest peacefully and ask for the realization of the United Nation General Assembly Resolution 194, stating the right of return for the people dispossessed from their homes in 1948.

They wanted first to generate support for the idea from all the solidarity campaigns all over the world; they wanted to make sure that there would be  collective peaceful marches and that they were properly covered by media.

As usual, Hamas and other hypocritical factions jumped on the idea and adapted it to their own purposes, for nothing other than distracting the attention of the people from Hamas’ obligations to the people of Gaza and their responsibility for reconciliation with Palestinian Authority.

Last October Egypt moderated between the PA and Hamas to put an end to 12 years of separation and division.

After signing the reconciliation agreement in Egypt which stated that Hamas will hand over all official institutions to the formal government, nothing happened.

We, as normal people, did not witness any change, and Hamas still in practice has all the power and authority.