Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are planning a six-week-long tent city protest near the Israeli border starting on March 30 to demand Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to what is now Israel, organizers said yesterday. Such a demonstration, envisaging families camped out in the sensitive border area, could present a dilemma for the Israeli military that enforces a "no go" zone for Palestinians on land adjacent to Israel's frontier fence.
Ahmed Abu Ayesh, a spokesman for a coordinating committee, said plans were for hundreds or thousands of people, including entire families, to live in tents erected "at the nearest, safe point from the border". The United Nations, Abu Ayesh said, would be notified of the rally.
A statement issued by the committee urged Palestinians in Gaza to take part in this "national project that endorses peaceful resistance as a new way to win our rights, foremost the right of return" of refugees to what is now Israel.
The protest is set to begin on March 30, the annual "Land Day" commemorating the six Arab citizens of Israel who were killed by Israeli security forces during demonstrations in 1976 over government land confiscations in northern Israel.
It will end, the organizers said, on May 15, the day Palestinians call the "Nakba" or "catastrophe", marking the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the conflict surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948.