On Friday 30 March 2018, the commemoration of Land Day, Palestinians launched a massive wave of peaceful weekly demonstrations known as the Great Return March along the security fence separating Gaza from Israel. The demonstrations call for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes lost in the 1967, as enshrined in United Nations Resolution 194, and the lifting of the blockade imposed on Gaza Strip by Israel for over a decade. The demonstrations, which were initially planned to be held for six weeks, have continued every Friday since then (51 weeks). All segments of society have participated in the demonstrations including youth, children, women, people with disabilities and elderly.
The Great Return March demonstrations are seen by many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as a way to vent their continued deprivation from the worsening humanitarian and economic situation caused mainly by the 12-year-long suffocating Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. The blockade, which severely restricted freedom of people and goods, has devastated Gaza’s economy, caused widespread destruction and separated its citizens from the rest of the world. Today, the Strip is suffering from widespread poverty, high unemployment to lack of opportunities, especially among the youth, and collapsing public services such as health care, water, and sanitation. The United Nations has warned that Gaza would become “unlivable” by 2020.