6 September 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza Strip
Today, like every Tuesday in Beit Hanoun, we marched into the buffer zone to protest it and the illegal Israeli occupation. In many ways it was the same as every Tuesday. We gathered at the Agricultural College, we marched down the road that leads to the buffer zone, we sang, and we chanted.
What was different this week?
The demonstration was bigger than it has been in a long time, Ramadan is over, and the people are newly energized. Also people were more afraid than they had been in a long time. Israel has just finished its latest round of heavy violence on Gaza. We were worried that Israel would fire on us, we are always afraid of this.
Israel often shoots at us when we go to the buffer zone, and this week we marched with the recent attacks fresh on our minds as we stopped fifty meters from reaching the wall.
Something else was different though.
When we reached the buffer zone it was newly plowed. If you didn’t know better you might have thought that the buffer zone, the zone of death, had disappeared and that farmers had been to their land and readied it for planting.
This wasn’t true though. The buffer zone is still there. The land had been bulldozed by Israel, not to prepare it for planting but instead to make sure that nothing lives in the buffer zone. Neither plants nor people indigenous to the land were allowed to grow here.
We went to the buffer zone to bring life to it, so that people will not forget that their land and history is still living. We went to the buffer zone to remind the world that this strip of death is not natural, the land now called the buffer zone used to be a thriving place of agriculture, people lived there, children played there.
The land was newly bulldozed, but sadly we did not have olive trees with us to plant upon the land, so we planted what we had, a Palestinian flag.