15 September 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza
The Palmer Report, recently released by the United Nations, was a moral travesty. It asserted that the naval blockade of Gaza was somehow separate from the land siege of Gaza. The Palmer Report was an attempt to break up the oppression of Gaza into bite size morsels so that it could be consumed without causing one to choke on the injustice of the occupation, of the siege.
Last week, we planted a Palestinian flag in the buffer zone, it stands alone, everything else has been destroyed by Israel. We did not leave it alone; we painted another flag on a large piece of rubble. We moved the flag even farther into the buffer zone, about 30 meters from the wall encircles Gaza.
On Tuesday, September 13, the Local Initiative of Beit Hanoun, fisherman from Beit Lahia, and activists from the International Solidarity Movement gave their response to the Palmer Report. They gathered on the beach near Beit Lahia and marched north, into the buffer zone, land that has been stolen from the people of Gaza and depleted of any fecundity. Across from the buffer zone is the land of the refugees in Gaza from which they were ethnically cleansed 63 years ago.
The buffer zone doesn’t stop on the land, as the Palmer Report may suggest, yet it extends onto the sea. Israel’s disregard for Oslos allotment of 20 miles of sea access to Palestinians has been defamed to a restricted area of three miles off the shore for fisherman to access.
The buffer zone has extended beyond the last grain of Gaza’s beach and continues into the waters under the misnomer of “buffer zone.” Scrap collectors shot to death, farmers murdered, families left without land to support themselves, it is a death zone. After the balloons popped, the flags survived, just as the Palestinian people have survived all of the Israeli violence directed at them.
We gathered at Waha, a hotel complex destroyed by Israeli bombs, at 8 AM and marched north along the beach, towards the wall that marks the northern boundary of the open air prison that is referred to as Gaza. We looked out over the sea that marks the western wall of the prison that is Gaza–the sea where earlier this week the Israeli Navy kidnapped eight fishermen, and then destroyed their boats with gunfire.
At 10:30 we gathered in Beit Hanoun to march north into the same buffer zone. For three years the people of Beit Hanoun have demonstrated weekly against the occupation and against the buffer zone. Participants marched north chanting and playing music over the megaphone into the buffer zone. They carried Palestinian flags attached to balloons. As the balloons floated over the buffer zone trailing their flags, they occasionally fell to earth and popped on the thorn bushes which are the only thing to survive the regular Israeli bulldozing of the buffer zone.
Sabur Zaaneen, from the Local Initiative spoke on the need for a Palestinian state, he urged Palestinian leaders to continue the struggle this September, he urged them not to forget their duty to their people, not to forget the right of the refugees to return, the right of their people to justice. The farmers of Beit Hanoun stand with the fisherman of Beit Lahia, with the people of Bil’in, with the people of Nil’in, we all carry the flag of popular resistance to the occupation. None of us will give up. We will be back next week, together, united in one cause, ending the occupation and justice for the Palestinian people.