A member of the Hamas Political Bureau stressed on Tuesday that the proposed "Great March of Return" is intended to be a peaceful activity. Dr Khalil Al-Hayya also warned the Israeli occupation authorities against taking any aggressive steps against the march or those who take part. According to Al-Hayya, this will include Palestinian men, women and children.
The return to occupied Palestinian lands is the legitimate and inalienable right of every individual Palestinian refugee, the spokesman pointed out. International laws and conventions make the right of return an individual rather than a collective right which cannot be negotiated away en masse.
Speaking at a press conference in the Gaza Strip, Dr Al-Hayya insisted that the intention behind the march is entirely peaceful. "That is why we are involving our wives and children," he explained. "We want to stand at the border of our occupied land, without carrying guns, to convey our message to the world." At the same time, he issued a warning to the Israelis not to attack unarmed and peaceful crowds, including women, children and the elderly.
Addressing other Palestinians in particular, the Hamas official reminded them that their homeland has been stolen from them. "We were displaced for the first time 70 years ago, since when we have been living with deprivation, homelessness, misery and loss." As such, he asserted, the people will never concede their land. "Palestine has been irrigated with the blood of our fathers and grandfathers. It is inevitable that we will return. Our right to do so is recognised by international laws, conventions and UN Resolutions."
Al-Hayya reminded the world that the Palestinians in Gaza have been living under a near total Israeli-led siege for 11 years. "This has caused severe poverty in the territory, with food and medicines in extremely short supply. We call upon the international community to end the siege and let the Palestinians in the Strip to live in security."
Turning his comments to the Israeli occupation authorities, he pointed out that the Palestinian struggle has been for justice, and that it is a just cause supported by freedom-loving people around the world. "We, the Palestinian people, seek liberation from Israel's occupation. We call upon the Israelis to end their occupation of our land and let us return so that we might live in peace and security. This is our legal, humanitarian and political right."
In conclusion, Dr Al-Hayya maintained that no matter how long the occupation lasts, it will end one day, despite its military hardware and US support. "Our right to Palestinian land is inalienable and we will not concede it. We are insistent upon our right to return and our right to establish our independent state."