On Friday April 20th, the Women of Gaza will stand together and march at the border to demand their freedom and Rights of Return. The 45-day protest, known as the ‘Great March of Return’ rally, has united tens of thousands of Gazans in their misery and their hope, resulting in clashes, leaving scores dead from Israeli fire.

Return March

With this recent violence in Gaza, it’s as obvious as ever that the 1.7 million people living in this impoverished strip of land – the most densely populated place in the world – is also one of the worst places to live.

Notoriously called the world’s largest open-air prison, Gaza has been home to a majority refugee population since 1948, when Israel declared its statehood and forced 700,000 Palestinians out of their ancestral homes, many fleeing to the Gaza strip.

Ruling With An Iron Fist

Even though the blockade of Gaza has been condemned by the UN and is a clear violation of International Law, Israel still controls Gaza by land air and sea, regulating what goes in and out. When the Palestinian Party Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006, Israel intensified its siege and collective punishment of the people living there as it considers Hamas a terrorist organization. 

gaza strip

Life in the Gaza Strip is hellish. Since the blockade 14 years ago, Israel has attacked three times. Infrastructure has been ruthlessly damaged, and 80 percent of the population gets humanitarian aid.  The border crossings with its neighbors, Egypt and Israel, are both closed, and travel in and out is strictly controlled. There are frequent power outages due to fuel shortage, lasting up to 12 hours. Also, water is a big problem, with more than 90 percent of its water being unsafe to drink. Furthermore, medicine and doctors are also in short supply. Gaza cannot build for its growing population since basic supplies like cement, gravel and steal are largely band from entering.  Israel limits Gaza’s exports to only 1 truck load of goods a day, paralyzing tis economy.  As a result, 40 percent of the population is unemployed.

Women’s Strife

Life for women in Gaza is especially difficult. Unemployment among women has increased significantly since the boarder closure was imposed and so has violence against women. They suffer serious societal constraints, which often dictate their choices, decisions and way of life.

women support

Nevertheless, woman have played a vital role in the recent protest, working on the front lines of the demonstrations and joining men in the march.  Whether it’s cooking for protesters, bringing kushuk for men to set on fire or hosting sit-ins near the border, raising the Palestinian flag, reciting poems and singing folk songs; women of all ages are holding a space for peace which is gaining momentum. No matter what.

Historically, peace marches have raised awareness, acting as a weapon through which the whole world can be uplifted. By participating in the protests and sticking with the momentum, Palestinian women advocate that a peaceful resolution is the best solution. Nothing else has worked, nothing else ever will.

great march gaza