APN Calls for Restraint on Land Day, Warns Against Deterioration to War

Large numbers of Palestinians are expected to participate in “The Great March of Return” this Friday, which is Palestinian Land Day and coincidentally also the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover. While protests are also planned for the West Bank and by Palestinian citizens of Israel, Gaza is the focal point for Land Day activity, as well as a key flashpoint given the mounting tensions there since President Trump’s December announcement regarding Jerusalem. Friday’s events are planned to kick off a series of similar marches and rallies in coming weeks, leading to May 15, the day after Israel’s 70th anniversary of independence which is marked as Nakba Day by Palestinians.

Americans for Peace Now (APN) is encouraged by the Palestinian march organizers’ stated commitment to non-violence. Palestinians have every right and reason to protest Israel’s closure of Gaza and its occupation of the West Bank. As long as they do so non-violently and without broaching the borders of sovereign Israel, Israeli authorities should allow the protests to transpire. Should Gazans attempt to breach the border fence, we urge the Israeli military to use the minimum force necessary in order to restrain them.

We are alarmed by the Israeli government’s threats to use lethal force against Gazans protesting on their side of the fence, and especially by the prospects that irresponsible and incendiary actions on either side might deteriorate into another full-scale Gaza war. Friday’s Land Day march must not become a trigger for yet another paroxysm of violence.

Once again, we are reminded that there is no stable status quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Absent a clear political horizon and credible effort to reach it – particularly to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza – the situation on the ground will always get worse. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can, indeed must, be solved in a peace agreement that addresses the core needs of both sides. It is imperative to pave a road back to a diplomatic process that can, once and for all, address the causes at the root of not only Israel-Gaza hostilities, but of the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Further Resources:

Nir Gontarz, “Senior Hamas Official: ‘I Think We Can All Live Here in This Land – Muslims, Christians and Jews,’” Haaretz, 28 March 2018.

Judah Ari Gross, “With Extra Troops, Snipers, Drones, Israel Braces for Land Day Border Protest,” The Times of Israel, 26 March 2018.

Mohamed Hashem and Mohammed Haddad, “Infographic: What Is Land Day?” Al-Jazeera, 30 March 2017.

Mohammed Shehada, “Will Friday’s March in Gaza Achieve Its Goal?The Forward, 28 March 2018.