ISM Tour 2018 statement on the Land Day Massacre and the need for action

ISM-NorCal is the major sponsor and organizer of the ISM Spring Tour, which is bringing four long-term ISM coordinators and activists to cities across North America for two months. The Tour issued the following statement after the Israeli attack on the Great March of Return in Gaza, Palestine on March 30: 

Today in Gaza, as thousands upon thousands of Palestinian, most of them refugees, mobilized in the Great March of Return, demanding an end to the murderous siege, the liberation of their land, and,the right of return for Palestinian refugees violently dispossessed from their land for the past 70 years, they faced brutal Israeli repression and a massacre at the hands of sharpshooters. 15 were killed by Israeli occupation forces.

The Great March of Return represents the best of what the International Solidarity Movement supports in Palestine: indigenous Palestinian grassroots popular organizing to confront colonialism, occupation and siege. Movements and unions of all kinds participated in the march, along with every political party and shade of the Palestinian spectrum – and the people as a whole. More than 70 percent of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees who have been denied their right to return to their homes and homeland in occupied Palestine ’48 for 70 years. Today, they marched to demand their internationally-affirmed right of return – and faced murder.

Of course, this is only the latest in a long line of brutal attacks on Palestinians throughout occupied Palestine, and massacres against the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza with particularly brutal intensity. From Cast Lead in 2009 to Pillar of Defense in 2012 to Protective Edge in 2014, Gaza has been, again and again, a site of mass killing by occupation forces.

These 15 Palestinians’ lives were taken today because they took their flags, keys and banners and marched toward the colonial “borders” and the illegitimate barrier erected by the Israeli occupation. They marched with thousands more toward the so-called “buffer zone” that the Israeli army has used to confiscate tens of thousands of dunums of the most fertile agricultural land from Palestinian farmers. Directed by the highest-ranking Israeli military officers, gunmen shot down over two dozen Palestinians for calling for their rights in a popular mass march.

The International Solidarity Movement is a Palestinian-led movement that is committed to non-violent direct action in resistance to the ongoing oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people. Supporting mobilizations like the Great March of Return with international presence on the ground and strengthening Palestinian popular resistance is a key part of the ISM’s work.

For the past month, four ISM activists, Rana Nazzal, Islam Maraqa, Katie Miranda and Joe Catron, have been on tour across the United States and Canada. Another month of the ISM spring tour remains. During the tour, we have met hundreds of people who want to make a real difference in supporting justice for Palestine. This tour is taking place because of the importance of ISM volunteers in providing direct, on-the-ground support to Palestinian popular resistance and the desperate need for more volunteers to come to Palestine to participate in events, like this one, with international presence.

ISM activists document ongoing Israeli crimes and support Palestinian popular resistance to settler and soldier attacks on Palestinian villages, the ongoing murders and violent attacks on fishers and farmers, the arrests of Palestinian political prisoners for their role in organizing their communities, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the confiscation of Palestinian land. This Land Day massacre and the theft of 15 Palestinian lives by occupation soldiers for their participation in a mass demonstration is an urgent call to action for all people of conscience.

Now is the time to take to the streets and organize against U.S. and Canadian support for Israel while it shoots down Palestinian demonstrators in cold blood. This is also a time to think about taking the next step in your solidarity activism: coming to Palestine as a volunteer with the ISM. You can learn more about joining it here: https://palsolidarity.org/join/

Today, we honor and mourn the fallen, and we pledge to remember them with organizing, struggle and escalated commitment to Palestinian freedom.

The ISM North America Tour

March 30, 2018