By Yael Marom, Siawi, 30 March 2018. Despite the army’s attempts to stoke
fear among Israelis and Palestinians alike, a group of Israeli women will join the
Palestinian protesters in Gaza on the other side of the border fence during the
“Great Return March.”

Coalition of Women for Peace is calling for demonstrators to rally in the area
near the Gaza border “to show support and solidarity with the residents of
Gaza, to oppose violence against the protesters, to call for an end to the
siege.” Buses will leave from Tel Aviv. The organizers are inviting activists
to join them as way to challenge Israeli media’s incitement against the
Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza.
Tanya Rubinstein, coordinator of the Coalition of
Women for Peace, said “the gap between what we’re hearing from within Gaza
about the events and the incitement that we’re hearing in the Israeli media is
massive and leaves no doubt about the violent intentions of the Israeli
authorities. We hope that our fears of a violent military response will be
proven wrong, but regardless we will show up on Saturday to support the
demonstrators, who have the right to demand their rights and their freedom.”
Aya Zinati, a feminist activist from the Coalition of
Women for Peace said, “the right to return is the right of Palestinians
everywhere, and we will continue to demand it. And it is very moving when it
[the demand] is coming from Gaza, where people are suffering badly from the
siege. For 11 years Israel has occupied them with internal problems like the
electricity shortage and the Rafah crossing with the goal of dividing the
Palestinians to keep them isolated. When there’s such a protest in Gaza, it
testifies to the fact that the Israeli siege’s attempt to divide the
Palestinians has not succeeded. And not only that: the Palestinians in Gaza
still yearn for freedom. The right of return is part of that freedom for all of
us Palestinians.”
Over the past several days, the organizers of the
“Great Return March” have stressed that the protest will be a peaceful one.
Hamas has joined the organizers’ call to commit to peaceful protest and to
prevent violence from distracting from the goals of the march. In an interview
with +972 Magazine
, Hasan al-Kurd, one of the organizers of the
march, said, “We’re reach out to them [Israelis], holding an olive branch. It’s
true that we’ve suffered in the past but we’re willing to put everything behind
us. Let’s turn over a new page together and do what’s right.”
Nevertheless, Israelis have refused to listen. Even
before the march began Israeli security forces launched a public
 painting the ‘Great Return March’ as a violent,
Hamas-sponsored event. The Israeli army’s chief of staff announced the
deployment of 100 snipers and several infantry brigades to the area of the Gaza
border fence. Israeli generals
 that there will be casualties. The Israeli army
personally threatened bus company owners and their families against
transporting protesters to the border. “From my point of view,” COGAT Gen. Yoav
Mordechai told Al-Hura TV
, “if bus companies you own take some of
the protesters and bring them to the border, you and your families will be held
personally responsible.”
The IDF is using aerial drones to drop tear gas on the
protesters in Gaza, and, in addition to snipers, there are tanks deployed along
the border. As part of its preparation for the march, the IDF declared the area
near the border fence a closed military zone — the protesters from the
Coalition of Women for Peace will likely face trouble when they arrive.
Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager
in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally
published in Hebrew