How is the Great Return March driving grassroots Palestinian activism?

Palestinians have demonstrated for the third consecutive Friday as part of the Great Return March, a six-week programme of non-violent action near Gaza’s southern border with Israel. They are demanding an end to an Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory as well as the right to return to their ancestral lands.

The toll of the protests has been high. So far dozens of people have been killed by Israeli snipers and hundreds more have been seriously injured. Yet the vast majority of Gazans say they have little to lose by demonstrating close to the Israel-Gaza border – the eleven-year blockade of Gaza has left them in a perilous position.

Beyond the Great Return March, activists face challenges in building a long-term popular movement that encompasses both Gaza and the occupied West Bank. A much-heralded reconciliation deal reached between Hamas and Fatah in October has sputtered out amid mutual recrimination.

The Stream will examine how the Great Return March fits into a lineage of Palestinian protest and what the prospects are for a broad-based, non-affiliated movement over the long term.

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