Tens of thousands of Palestinians demonstrated inside Gaza yesterday demanding the right to return to their homes. It is reported that 15 Palestinians have been killed on one day by Israeli snipers and even tanks shooting into Gaza territory. Our Gaza correspondent has written to Canada’s representative in Ramallah, inviting him to come to see who is being violent. Read his urgent plea.
Huge demonstrations have begun all across Palestinian territory this weekend, marking “Land Day”, and are scheduled to continue for another 6 weeks, until the commemoration of “Nakba Day” on May 15. The Palestinians say their demonstrations are entirely peaceful and underscore the Palestinian demand for the “right of return” to their homes and villages which are in today’s Israel.
The right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel is one of the most contentious issues in the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Mobilization has been particularly intense inside Gaza. In anticipation of the demonstrations Israel announced that it had deployed more than 100 snipers on Gaza’s perimeter.
The Palestinians collected in six large tents inside Gaza and then began marching waving flags and banners towards the “buffer zone” which Israel has defined as a “no go zone” for Palestinians on the Gaza side of the huge fence which keeps them imprisoned. Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are attempting to quell the demonstrations using live fire and tear gas. There are reports of IDF sending drones into Gaza to drop tear gas.
Israeli Defense forces portrayed the marchers as “rioters” and “terrorists”.
Canadian news media, which reports from Israel (and under Israeli military censorship) has been less than helpful in understanding the issue or what is going on. “Six Palestinians killed, hundreds hurt as Gaza border protest turns violent”, reported the CBC in an article which left it unclear who was protesting peacefully, and who was using violence.
CTIP’s Gaza correspondent Ahmed Alnaouq sent today an urgent letter to Scott Proudfoot, Canada’s representative in Ramallah asking him to come and see for himself who is being violent. He sent us a copy of his emailed letter
Mr. Scott Proudfoot,
Representative of Canada to the Palestinian Authority
Ramallah, Occupied Palestinian Territory
Dear Mr. Proudfoot,
This is Ahmed Alnaouq, a freelance journalist and project manager of We Are Not Numbers. I am writing this to you as an ordinary Palestinian refugee youth who is furious about the current situation at the border area. Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees have begun to demonstrate at the border area of the Gaza Strip, attempting to show PEACEFULLY, our desire to return to our homes and villages from which our parents were expelled in 1948.
While the demonstrations pose no physical threat to Israel or Israelis, the Israeli occupation forces has posted a thousand sharpshooters and snipers, who have already killed 13 Palestinians and injured around 1500 others (until Friday 6:40 pm. As I write you this letter, the number of Palestinian civilian casualties is rising!)
We urge you to come to Gaza immediately to see for yourself who is being violent and who is being peaceful.
I didn’t participate in the protests today, because I had to stay with my sick mother. But my brother and father did go though, and they assured me the March was peaceful and civilian.
We will be happy to take you to the sites of the demonstrations, so you can be assured of the facts on the ground. We count on Canada’s reputation as a country which believes in human rights and democracy to investigate.
NOTE: As representative to the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Proudfoot is responsible for Canadian policies and programs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. CTIP has written separately to Mr. Proudfoot (firstname.lastname@example.org) encouraging him to follow up on Mr. Alnaouq’s plea.
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