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The Return Marches and Ending the Division
By: Moatasem Hamadeh
August 15, 2019

The "marches of return and breaking the siege" are a major national achievement for the people of Palestine. The history will remember them as one of the great struggle stations in which the Palestinians have been creative in the making of a third Intifada, after the first and the second ones. Each has its own characteristics, mechanisms, tools and historical context.

One of the most important achievements of the "marches" is that they send a weekly message to the public opinion that the Gaza Strip is under an unjust Israeli siege and that this siege is a form of occupation, but in another form.

They also tell the public opinion that the Palestinian resistance is still existed, and that its capabilities, tools and tactics, are developing in the context of the battle for the liberation of the Palestinian land, from the Israeli colonial fascist occupation and settlement.

Every Friday, is the focus of the world public opinion, especially on days of the clash, where it watches the Gaza Strip and observes the consequences of the clashes of the marches of return and breaking the siege.

On Friday every week, there is a fighting painting, drawn by the blood of Palestine people, which has costed it more than 350 martyrs and 30 thousand wounded so far. About 5,000 of them are threatened with permanent disability if they do not have the necessary treatments.

We are fully aware that these marches are not enough to open the way for the Palestinian refugees to return. But this perception does not mean that they do not achieve interim goals within the framework of the right of return. The marches have formed a loud and strong response to all attempts to erase this right, to redefine the refugee, to delegitimize millions of refugees, and to impose a blockade on UNRWA, to paralyze and disable it, and to transfer its services to the host countries. In the Gaza Strip, the voice of the Palestinian refugee was one of the most effective sounds. The return marches were one of the most popular movements in the struggle for return. Therefore, this process must be continued, as long as the right of return is a subject of conflict until the Palestinian people achieves its desired goals in the context of the movement of refugees throughout their areas of existence.

The people of the Gaza Strip are also aware that the occupying state will not lift the unjust siege, which imposed on them immediately, especially for their insistence on the resistance, which Israel sees as an existential, material, moral and intellectual danger. From here, its military leadership raised the slogan of "inflicting psychological defeat" ,but it failed to "deter" the Palestinian consciousness and its awareness of the role of the resistance (all forms of resistance) and its position in the struggle. The people of the Gaza Strip are also aware that under the slogan of "lifting the siege", some policies may come out from the general context, towards explicit factional goals, that are felt by citizens in their daily lives. But this is not a sufficient reason to retreat from the "marches" and the slogan of breaking the siege. The issue principally, is an unjust aggression by the occupation authorities on the Gaza Strip, under fabricated security slogans, as if the Strip is the danger to the neighborhood, not the machine of destructive wars that spreads in the north and east of the Gaza Strip and closes its sea to its fishermen and destroys the land of the Strip on Fridays every week, in a message that wants to confirm the bloody and fascist truth of the Israeli occupation.

In addition to all this, the marches of return and breaking the siege are gaining paramount importance. As they constitute the masses action, which unites the Palestinian struggle movement in the occupied territories, and in the diaspora, despite the state of division, which has established for both, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip their own authority, and presented the Palestinian situation as divided against itself, administratively and politically. Where it witnesses bitter media wars, which cause great damage to the Palestinian national movement, distort its image in front of the public opinion, reduce its struggle balance and waste an important amount of its sacrifices.

"The marches of return and breaking the siege" are the strong bridge that has overcome the state of division, limited its results, and placed it in its true framework, as a division between two parties, in authoritarian struggles. While the popular movement in essence and reality is stronger and more resilient than any attempts to mobilize it in the service of this side or another, in their divisional battles.

This is confirmed by the slogans of the "marches" which they raise weekly, confirming their close connection to the other fields of struggle for the Palestinian mass movement, in the 48 areas, in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and in the diaspora.

The marches of return and breaking the siege, in this context, must remain keen on this role, and work to deepen it, that is, maintaining the unity of the mass movement and not dragging it towards the partisan division.

In this context, we believe that the "marches of return and breaking the siege" are expected to play a special role in pressuring the two sides of the divide, if they make the slogan of "ending the division" as a constant slogan in all their weeks and a permanent goal of their direct objectives.

As ending the division and returning to the internal unity will enhance the chances of lifting the siege and preserve the unconditional truce that was reached with the occupation authorities in the negotiations of the unified Palestinian delegation in Cairo through the Egyptian mediation with The Israeli side. They also would open the horizon to alleviate the pain of the Strip, in terms of economic, social, health, educational and other fields.

Moreover, ending the division and restoring the internal unity would include all the projects, presented to the Strip within their national framework, so that they do not appear to be attempts to consolidate division, by strengthening the de facto authority, especially as some of these projects bear troubling imprints, such as the Qatari support funds which passes through Lod airport in Israel, which can be overcome and avoided in the presence of one authority in the West Bank and in the Strip.

Perhaps the most important about this is that ending the division, restoring the internal unity, and the return of the PA government (which can be agreed upon) to shoulder its responsibilities and duties towards the population of the Gaza Strip, will relieve the resistance from the burden of responsibility for managing the public affairs. And to provide it with the opportunity and the necessary conditions to do its job well and to develop its role. Especially as the next phase, as the indicators suggest, is an escalation, not only in the Gaza Strip but also in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Moatasem Hamadeh is a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by Manal Mansour
Revised by Ibrahim Motlaq

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