Politics, Middle East

Land Day evokes double memories for Gaza

Besides recalling 1976 movement against impounding of their lands, Gaza also observes anniversary of launching Great March of Return

Nesma Seyam   | 30.03.2020
Land Day evokes double memories for Gaza

GAZA CITY, Palestine

For the Palestinians inhabiting the besieged Gaza Strip, March 30 evokes double memories.

While it is originally observed as Palestinian Land Day, to recall sacrifices of people who in 1976 had resisted Israeli attempts to impound their lands, for Gaza it also marks the launch of the movement of the Great March of Return in 2018.

Since March 30, 2018, Palestinians in Gaza were holding weekly marches towards the security fence put up by Israeli troops, in an attempt to break the siege laid around their territory.

The main goal of the march was to demand their right of return to their original lands wherefrom they were forcibly expelled by the Israeli forces in 1948 and also to lift the 12-year-old siege imposed on Gaza strip in 2007 since resistance group Hamas won elections and assumed office in the territory.
Israel has responded to the peaceful march by using live ammunition, tear gas and explosives. But the Palestinians have continued to protest despite brutal Israeli response.

According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, 311 Palestinians have been killed and a total of 17,443 injured so far in these protests along the fence.

Two years ago, an Israeli sniper shot both legs of Khalil Bakr, 27, who was almost 300 meters away from the fence at Malaka Camp, east of Gaza. He was marching with people protesting against U.S. decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

“I had been to the site before. But on that day Israeli forces had gone crazy. They were firing at protesters randomly,” he told Anadolu Agency.

The sniper shot his right thigh and after he fell to the ground. But when he had tried to stand up and run away, the sniper shot his another leg.

He was rushed to Al-Shifa Hospital. Since then more than four surgeries were performed on his legs. But still, he cannot move easily and has been forced to take the support of crutches rest of his life. 

To pay for his medical expenses, Bakr had to sell his boat that he was using to make a living by catching fish. Without any means of livelihood, he has been left to wonder, how to feed his three children.

-Loss of livelihood brings mental trauma

The 27 years old couldn’t secure any job since the incidence, still has three children to feed.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Dawlat Hamadin, narrated that after she joined the gathering at a demonstration site to the northern of Beit Hanoun, a bullet pierced her right thigh.

“I felt like an electric shock before losing consciousness,” said Hamadin.

The doctors had first decided to amputate her leg. But then reconsidered their decision, as they had almost declared her clinically dead.

She underwent several surgeries in Egypt before returning to Gaza and still has an intramedullary rod installed in her leg.

Dawlat ran a beauty salon in Beit Hanoun locality to feed her parents and three siblings.

“I used to work as a hairdresser that requires standing up for hours. Now, I can barely use my legs. It was a miracle that I returned to life, but I wish I should not have” said Hamadin. She says that life is so difficult now.

Palestinian Health Ministry along with international partners has launched a project to provide mental and psychological counseling services to injured people. They also offer a small fund to allow the injured to restart their businesses. 

A psychologist Sumayya Habeeb working for the project said that a large number of people injured during the Great March of Return are reaching out to them for help.

Besides the deteriorating economic situation and high rates of unemployment, mental trauma and health crises are also consuming people in Gaza. 

According to Habeeb, injured especially amputees show serious psychosocial disorders and suffer from insomnia, depression and other disorders calling for urgent social and psychological assistance. She said that some of the victims did not believe that they have lost limbs and have to remain dependent on others for the rest of their life.

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