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We want peace, we want to go home

Interview of Ziad M., a Palestinian refugee from the refugees camp of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, member of the local organisation committee of The return march .

On the morning of 8 April, the Israeli air force bombed the Gaza Strip. Friday, April 6, the Israeli army killed nine Palestinians and injured several hundred. The previous Friday, March 30, nineteen Palestinians had been killed. Israeli army firing live ammunition at unarmed demonstrators marching to denounce their detention in the Gaza Strip and demanding their return to their historic land and in their villages. Indeed, the vast majority of those who are locked up in Gaza are children and grandchildren 800,000 Palestinians evicted in 1948 by Zionist militias who intended to erect the State of Israel. The day of March 30 was so far commemorated as Palestinians living in the borders of the State of Israel, rejecting the notion of Israeli Arabs to affirm the fact that they are Palestinians and members of the Palestinian people.
This Day of the Earth commemorates for the Palestinians in the borders of the State of Israel the day of March 30, 1976, when during the general strike of Galilee against the confiscation of the Palestinian lands the army killed six of them . This year, for the first time, this day is celebrated beyond borders of the State of Israel, expressing that on both sides barbed wire is the same people.

- Can you introduce yourself for our newspaper?

- I am 48 years old, I have five children and my family comes from the village of Al-Majdal, a village that was destroyed and replaced by an Israeli city called Ashkelon, less than fifteen kilometers to the north. from the border.
We have been refugees since 1948. I worked in Tel Aviv for twenty-five years in construction, but since the blockade and the ban on working, I am unemployed, like tens of thousands of people here who are forbidden to work.

- You are a member of the local committee who organises every week the Great March for the return. Can you tell us more on this movement, and why it is so strong in Gaza?


- This is the first time since1948 that such an event is organised here. What has most impressed the Israeli media is that the movement is very structured and disciplined. Our aim is to present the refugees' issues as central, to remind the world of the fate of the Palestinian refugees. Today, Saudi Arabia and Israel are doing everything to look away from what is happening here. The war in Syria and Turkey are also used here to say that the Palestinian problem does not exist, that there is worse elsewhere. Most Arabic countries have sold the refugee issue in exchange for the graces of Saudi Arabia and the Americans. So we decided to put the Palestinian issue back on the map. It is necessary to repeat the initiative because the Palestinian Authority does not want to do anything for the refugees because of its cooperation with Israel and the financial support on which it depends. So why here in Gaza? Here, the refugee population is the largest in all of Palestine. Almost everyone in Gaza is a refugee, and we can almost see the locations of our villages from the border. The idea of walking, reproducing what our brothers and sisters do from inside (inside: the term used to refer to the interior of the Israeli borders of 1948 - Ed) came from young people who use social networks, and very quickly unions and political organisations joined them. Young people see the elders, born before 1948, dying one after the other, and they are impatient. It is very good; they push us. It is not a party movement, it is a movement for the opening of borders and for returning home. Besides, you must have noticed on the pictures, there are no party flags, but only Palestinian flags. The High Refugees Committee took charge of the organisation. It is made of everyone. You know, in Gaza all the party leaders know each other, all of them are refugees and we all want to go home. Moreover, it is easy here to bring everyone together in one place, while in the West Bank I do not know if the idea itself could have come, because with the wall and the separate camps and check points, it's impossible. In Gaza, we are all within a twenty minutes walk from the border.

Yes, the movement is of a great magnitude, because all the organisations are united in the High Organising Committee and it grows day by day. Every day we organise the march on the Friday of the following week and we do not intend to stop. We have no choice now. The refugee issue needs to resurface. The young people have planned everything for the images of the rallies to be widely distributed worldwide on social networks, and everywhere they have been forced to talk about it. I also want to emphasise that women are very involved in this movement and play an important role in it.

- You have not yet spoken of the extreme brutality of the Israeli army against the demonstrators ... Besides, have there been any protests in the State of Israel?

- You know, there is no more brutality now than during the last war where there were more than two thousand martyrs, including hundreds of children. What changes is that we decided to change the way we act and the images have gone around the world and no one can deny what is happening, can not deny that we are for peace. Israeli television reports that a huge part of the Israeli army has been mobilised. We managed to scare them, without weapons, peacefully. They were surprised by the very good organisation of the event. You know, Netanyahu is no worse than the others. There have been left-wing and right-wing Prime Ministers, it's always the same with them when we talk about the right of return. They agree to discuss the Palestinian State, to accede to the Palestinian Authority to be in charge of the police, they agree to have a few Arabic representatives in Parlement inside. but when we talk about right to return, they see there the greater danger for their State and all their lies.Inside (of the State of Israel,NDLR), there are a few hundreds of Jewish activists who defend the Palestinians and that's fine, some even declare themselves anti-Zionists, but nobody listens to them and they have various positions on the right to return. The only important protests were against the burned tires that give off black smoke. The fumes have gone to the other side of the border and the settlers have been indisposed and scared for their crops and the taste of oranges! As a result, Israeli politicians say that we must stop delivering tires to Gaza. That's why the snipers fired on the martyrs who wanted to collect tires to burn them. Right now, the Israeli left is busy supporting the migrants against Netanyahu who wants to expel them. They brought them in because the Palestinians no longer have the right to work and now they want to deport them. So there are some who want to defend the migrants, but do not say anything when the Palestinians are killed. What is more important to us are the reactions of our brothers and sisters Inside (the State of Israel NDLR). Two days ago there was a big march of support in Sakhnin in Galilee with more than thirty thousand participants, and we know that there will be more marches until May 15th. But we will not stop on May 15th.

- You said you changed the way you do things. Can you come back to this and tell us about prospects?


- We have created a new system, a new organisation of the struggle, which is not military. It's something unique since 1948. We've always wanted peace. We want to to go home, that's all. And all this makes the Israelis furious. They want to kill the right of return but they will not succeed. I want to emphasise one point: the state of mind, the morale of the people is very high. This type of action is going to create pressure. Many Arab states and the United States have contacted Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas to stop this action. The right of return is enshrined in international law, but it has never made any progress. Here, no one has any hope on Mahmoud Abbas and the fine words. The people are tired of the pressures, the promises, now they say it's enough. In Gaza, Hamas and Fatah are in the High Organising Committee of the march and they want to continue, because it is the movement of all the Palestinian people. Walking is not because we need construction equipment, not because we need nourishment, no, we have a request: it's going back home. And as I just said, we will not stop on May 15.
More and more Palestinians say that we must fight in this way. Whatever we do, they kill us, but for the public opinion it is different and there we will win battles. All of this, the peoples of the world can understand.

Interview by telephone by François LAZAR (first publication in Informations ouvrières (France), n° 498, april, 12. 2108)

From DIALOGUE REVIEW ( www.dialogue-review.com )