Photo Credit: Yahya Amal Jabareen / TPS

{Written by Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi and originally posted to the JCPA website}

All of the Palestinian organizations are planning to turn Land Day on March 30, 2018, into a show of strength that will express the Palestinian demand for the realization of their “right of return.” The practical implication of the return is the removal of the Jewish population of the State of Israel from their homes in order to absorb millions of Palestinians defined as “refugees from 1948” and their generations of descendants.

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The “March of Return” is planned as just the first stage in a series of “return” protest activities that will take place over the next few months, including demonstrations and attempts to break the naval embargo on the Gaza Strip. These activities will reach their peak in the middle of May 2018 (Nakba Day) and will also continue in June (al-Quds day).

Besides Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem, and at the sites of protest activities in the Israeli-Arab sector, tensions are also expected to flare up along the borders with Lebanon and Jordan. The “return” protest may cause shockwaves throughout the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, where most of its residents are Palestinian.

Turkish Involvement?

The main dangers are terror attacks and public disturbances under the umbrella of the “march of return,” which will lead to a deterioration in the security situation and the risk of a military flare-up. Turkey is leading a hostile stance against Israel. Its aggressive regional policy with Israel may create an intentional crisis with Israel in the area of the Temple Mount, fomented by Turkish “tourists” recently sent to the al-Aqsa mosque.

Below are the main features of the general picture of the situation at this stage:

  • The national committee for the march of return is led by Khaled al-Batsh, one of the leaders of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
  • The committee includes various nationalist and Islamic organizations (including political movements such as Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad), social groups, and others.
  • The committee runs 13 sub-committees, including a legal committee, a committee for creating international contacts, and a security committee.
  • The committee coordinates its activities with Palestinian organizations in Judea and Samaria that are planning to organize similar marches of return.
  • The avowed strategic objective of the march of return is the realization of the right of return of Palestinian refugees from 1948 and their descendants, regardless of generation.
Illustration on the Hamas website

Illustration on the Hamas website

The declared tactical objective of the march of return is opposition to the “deal of the century,” the U.S. initiative to resolve the Middle East conflict, and the U.S. administration’s policies of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and limiting aid to UNRWA. The main emphasis of these activities is on media exposure and influencing worldwide public opinion.

A “Peaceful” March Won’t Happen

Features of the planned activities include a mass Palestinian presence along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, erecting tents along the border, and “peaceful” marches of return.  The expression “peaceful” is a euphemism for violent disturbances of public order, including attempts to kill Israelis.

The leaders of the committee are authorized to decide for the mob to break through the border fence between Gaza and Israel, and they have hinted at their intention to issue such an order.

At the same time, and in conjunction with the activities connected to the march of return, Palestinian and pro-Palestinian organizations in Europe are arranging protest activities for the realization of the right to return and a flotilla for breaking the embargo on the Gaza Strip.

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