Scores of women and girls participated in a rally in Gaza demanding their right to return. Organizers called the protest, “Palestinian Women for the Return and Breaking the Siege.” It was the largest women’s march on the Gaza-Israel border since the “Great March of Return” protest that began on March 30.
Palestinian women protested for a right of return to towns and villages. They were forcibly expelled from their homes, during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 in a violent ethnic cleansing campaign.
“This event comes to support the Palestinian women who are still steadfast despite the siege. It holds a clear message, that no one can deny our rights, especially the right of return and our demands to lift the siege” said Iktimal Hamad, a commission women's committee chair.
Women, including mothers, sisters and daughters of men who were killed at the hands of brutal Israelis during the “Great March of Return” participated in the Gaza rally. Female journalists and university students also took part in the protest, holding the Palestinian flag and signs, making it very clear they would not stop protesting until their demands are met.
“Who said women cannot fight just as effectively as men?” asked Suheir Khader, who came to the gathering with her family and friends.
“We were brought up on the fact that resistance is female. Our grandmothers always assisted our grandfathers and fought along with them during the Nakba and the first Intifada,” explained the 39-year-old.
“I am here today because we [women] cannot just sit there and watch our fathers and husbands being killed and injured. It is our duty to at least share this struggle with them,” she added.
Women arrived in buses and many were accompanied by their children.
Israeli forces staying true to their brutality wounded these women with gunfires. At least 134 Palestinians were injured since the protests began. According to Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, 134 Palestinians, including 16 children and one woman, have been killed, and 15,200 others, including 2,536 children and 1,160 women, have been injured since the protests began.
But wounding these fearless Palestinians is not going to stop them from protesting for their rights.
Amani al-Najjar, 25, said that nothing can prevent her from attending the protests, “not even my injury.”
“I got injured with a tear gas canister to the chest during the third week of the protests," she explained. "Three days later after I started recovering, I came back here to protest again.”
Najjar’s brother was killed by an Israeli sniper near the eastern fence last year. “I am here to continue what my brother started. If they [Israeli soldiers] killed him to intimidate us and force us to stop, they are wrong. They just gave us another reason to continue,” she said.
71-year-old Um-Khaled Loulo brought her sons and grandchildren at a protest last week. “I always bring my grandchildren here to teach them about the right of return practically,” she said.
“I do not let them approach the fence because I know Israeli soldiers will spare no effort to shoot them, but at least they get to understand that returning to their original homeland is something to fight for when they grow up.”
“I bring them here every week and we start chanting national songs. This is how you raise a child under occupation,” she added.
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Reuters, Mohamad Torokman