Middle East

Palestinians in Gaza had hardly begun their “Great March of Return” campaign before Israel responded with a level of violence and brutality not seen for some time, writes Lisa Gleeson. Yet their protests continue.

What began as a protest in 1976 after a rash of land confiscations by Israel — met by Israel with the killing of six unarmed Palestinians — Land Day each March 30 is an annual focal point for Palestinian frustration at being forcibly displaced and unable to return home.

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, a long-time supporter of Palestinian rights, posted a statement on Facebook that was to be read out April 7 demonstrations across Britain against Israel's latest killings of Palestinians in Gaza. By April 8, the death toll of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces while protesting in Gaza since March 30  had risen to 22.

At least 18 Palestinians have died in Gaza after Israeli forces opened fire on Friday, March 30 on a protest near the Gaza Strip’s eastern border with Israel. As many as 1700 Palestinians were wounded, with videos posted online showing unarmed Palestinians being shot in the back while taking part in a protest that day.

In the face of a campaign by supports of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel in protest against its apartheid policies, New Zealand superstar singer Lorde cancelled a planned Tel Aviv concert in December. The BDS call was first issued in 2005 by dozens of Palestinian civil society organisations, and has been heeded by many cultural figures, including musicians.

As Israeli troops violently suppress Palestinian protests, the road forward for the Palestinian struggle is again being seriously discussed.

An article in the December 8 New York Times with a headline “Two State Option, a Mideast Keystone, Is Sent Askew,” begins: “President Trump, in formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, declared that the United States still supported a two-state solution to settle the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, provided it was ‘agreed to by both sides.’

Donald Trump’s announcement that his adminstration would recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital will end decades of US policy that such recognition could come only after the status of the city is settled in negotiations.

Last month, US lawmakers held hearings to promote recognising Jerusalem and moving the embassy that only heard from members of the Israel lobby, and completely excluded Palestinians.

Ignoring a call from more than 170 Palestinian civil society organisations for a boycott of Israel over its policies of apartheid and occupation, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds played two sold-out gigs in Tel Aviv on November 19 and 20. 

Nick Cave and his band also ignored the example and calls by many other musicians organised in Artists for Palestine, such as Roger Walters and Brian Eno among the most prominent voices.

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