Israelis and Palestinians commemorate a year since Israeli troops killed over 60 Palestinian demonstrators in a single day during the Great March of Return. Some protesters call to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Tel Aviv.
Hundreds of Israeli and Palestinians marched in Tel Aviv on Tuesday to mark a year since Israeli troops shot dead over 60 Palestinians and wounded thousands more on the Israel-Gaza border as part of the Great Return March.
The Great Return March, which began in March 2018, included mass protests on the Gaza-Israel fence. On May 15, 2o18, Israeli snipers opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators marking Nakba Day, killing 64.
Tuesday’s demonstration, which included a number of MKs from the left-wing Hadash party, set out from Habima Square and ended in central Tel Aviv’s Meir Park, and included a pre-recorded message from Ahmed Abu Artema, one of the central organizers of the Great Return March in Gaza. “I am addressing you from Gaza where 2.2 million Palestinians live in one of the most densely populated areas in the world,” Abu Artema said.
“When the residents of Gaza decided to participate in the March of Return, they wanted to express their desire to live in dignity, and they wanted to say no to a slow death… that they deserve to live a normal life like everyone else. We were not armed, our only weapon was our belief in our rights, and we never posed any threat to Israeli soldiers.”
“For 70 years, the Palestinians have been fighting for freedom, a life of dignity and human rights,” Abu Artema said. “We cannot imagine that occupation and discrimination will continue forever, we are fighting to liberate our people, the Palestinian people, from occupation and suffering, and at the same time we are fighting to free Israelis from fear and from walls. This is our common struggle. Let us stand on the right side of history.”
The majority of the protesters refrained from mentioning the Eurovision Song Contest, currently being hosted in Tel Aviv, although a small group of independent activists did march with signs calling on artists to boycott the competition.
Left-wing and BDS activists have called on artists and broadcasters to withdraw their participation the in contest, calling Israel’s hosting of the contest a form of “culture washing” of Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories.
Shahaf Weisbein, one of the Israeli activists behind the actions to protest Eurovision, said that the fact that the competition is taking place in Israel “perpetuates the occupation and tries to hide it with glitter and paint.”
Tuesday’s protest came just two days after over a dozen Israeli and international activists blocked one of the main entrances to the Eurovision opening ceremony in a show of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. They were eventually removed by police officers and moved to a different location.
This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.