Gaza’s “Great March of Return”

Palestinian protestors burn tyres during clashes with Israeli security forces on the Gaza Israeli border east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip on April 6, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90

Is Gaza’s “Great March of Return” a non-violent protest, or a dangerous attempt to breach Israel’s border? Are IDF sharpshooters defending Israel’s sovereignty or wounding and killing unarmed protesters, or both?

This is a segment from The “Guns, Jews and Steel” Edition.


Show your support on Patreon

Looking for extra segments and other patron-only perks?
Find them on Patreon.

Previous Episodes

Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

1 comment on “Gaza’s “Great March of Return”

  1. Greg Pollock says:

    It is absurd to treat Palestinians as a giant individual, acting violently or nonviolently, or being duped by Hamas (which, then strangely, is part of the big Palestinian individual). It is equally absurd to treat Hamas as a big individual. Nor do we always treat States thusly. An errant agent of the State may be imprisoned, although the organizational structure of States more easily admits unified action under a single policy.

    I would say, then, that a violent subgroup at the Gazan March does not implicate all there nor even all of Hamas. I’ve read that in transporting individuals to the border Hamas agents forbid weapons on board. Surely there are other ways to arrive at the site, both Hamas affiliates and others, and these may bring weapons either for purported defense or IDF enticement. I think one should recognize that the Hamas decisional structure on violence is diffuse for two causes: it permits action when more central command is cut off by overwhelming Israeli airpower, thus seeding individuals with some direct control over weapons cashes; and politics in Hamas is by forced action, doing something to dare or demand a reply among those with more ostensive authority, a way of testing greater mobilization (or not) when the rule of law is absent.

    I think this structure responsible for the Rocket War. A few fired rockets, Israel replied, a few more did, with another reply. Simultaneously, the internet posted videos of IDF raiding homes in the West Bank looking for evidence of the three (dead) captured Israeli youth. Fused, these processes tipped against those counseling restraint, leading to a war which obviously Hamas could not win. I expect similar attempts to tip both sides into sustained battle now as well, even if, as I suspect, the greater on the ground social structure at the gathered tents is predominately nonviolent. Israel must decide which Giant Palestinian and which Hamas it will pretend is the Great Individual of a People.

    Lastly, while one discussant in the Podcast repeatedly notes the “unbearable living conditions” in Gaza, nothing was said as to how to change them, or if change would remove the border push to Return. Return is obviously an impossible fantasy, but it signals that there is no hope where they live. Future is exhausted there, so some move to a kind of millennialism to have something to work toward–and, just as with millennial end of world cults, this logic of social organization hits a wall of impossibility. For all those Gazans at the border, consider there must be others organizing resource support for those present or covering for lost labor in family or (marginal) employment through attendance. This March is a way of inducing a new form of promise within their society, a new way of organizing in what is becoming a cashless, shrinking economy. It is perforce a minority phenomenon, but most often social movements are.

    If the March is indeed a sign of collapsing economy surrounded by a siege engine called the IDF, then why not shift the ethic in Israel to say some things it will not do to entire populations. Turn the electric grid back on. Worry about who pays later. This could be done today with no need for agreements. If you want to prevent the absurdity of a border crossing, change the story by changing yourselves. Give those at the border a reason to think home life is possible. Refuse to hold a population hostage in this way. I would go further and ask for international assistance in setting up infrastructure repair in Gaza in grid, sewage, and water. But simply by turning on the grid now and painting your own promise rainbow you might get many to go home. What won’t work is announcing they are all Hamas or terrorists or are incapable of thinking for themselves.

    I have written at too much length here as it is, but I include a link to my FB wall trying to account for this event as a collapse of currency in Gaza:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our weekly newsletter

Receive Our Latest Podcast Episodes by Email

(and not a thing more)