Hundreds of Israeli and Palestinians marched through central Tel Aviv, Tuesday evening, May 14, with the opening of the Eurovision Song Contest being held in that city. The marchers called for an end to Israel’s siege against Gaza and commemorated a year since Israeli troops shot dead more than sixty Palestinians and wounded thousands more on a single day along the Israel-Gaza border as part of the Great Return March.
The Great Return March, which began on March 30, 2018, Land Day, involves mass protests along the Gaza-Israel fence every Friday. On May 15, 2018, a special march was held in the middle of the week to mark Nakba Day. Israeli forces were reinforced in particular, and snipers opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators killing 64.
Tuesday’s demonstration this week included all four Hadash MKs Ayman Odeh, Aida Touma-Sliman, Ofer Cassif and Youssef Jabareen, former Hadash MK Dov Khenin and leading Communist Party of Israel activists. The marchers set out from Habima Square and worked their way to Tel Aviv’s Meir Park for a ceremony, passing the headquarters of the Likud just before reaching the part.
Speakers addressed those gathered in Meir Park, and a pre-recorded message from Ahmed Abu Artema, one of the central organizers of the Great Return March in Gaza, was screened. “I am addressing you from Gaza where 2 million Palestinians live in one of the most densely populated areas in the world,” Abu Artema said “When the residents of Gaza decided to participate in the March of Return, they wanted to express their desire to live in dignity, and they wanted to say no to a slow death… that they deserve to live a normal life like everyone else. We were not armed, our only weapon was our belief in our rights, and we never posed any threat to Israeli soldiers.”
“For 70 years, the Palestinians have been fighting for freedom, a life of dignity and human rights,” Abu Artema said. “We cannot imagine that occupation and discrimination will continue forever. We are fighting to liberate our people, the Palestinian people, from occupation and suffering, and at the same time we are fighting to free Israelis from fear and from walls. This is our common struggle. Let us stand on the right side of history.”