They say it’s better to come late than never, and that is what happened with the Ramallah march. The march called for lifting the sanctions imposed on the Gaza Strip and despite the fact that it came late it was still an important event occurring on the internal Palestinian front and a ray of hope for the people of Gaza. They are currently bearing the weight of the new government sanctions in addition to the weight of the Israeli blockade, which has been ongoing for over 11 years. The series of punitive measures taken against the Gaza Strip by the PA began with reducing the salaries of employees to completely cutting them off. These measures aimed to pressure Hamas and force it to hand over the Gaza Strip and all of its government and security branches all at once.
As for Israel, it saw in these sanctions indications of imminent explosion and signs of mass chaos in the Gaza Strip or an indication of war and a military confrontation the details of which are unknown and the fate of which is unclear if the Hamas government in Gaza falls. This is not out of love for Hamas, but due to the PA’s weakness in securing its control over the Gaza Strip, given the organisational changes, as well as the changes on the ground. Therefore, the Israeli military establishment has constantly been holding security meetings and putting forward solutions and suggestions, even resorting to the international community to reduce the chances of a confrontation.
It even reached the point of threatening the PA in Ramallah with deducting the Gaza employees’ salaries from the tax revenues. Israel also saw the sanctions as beneficial to it as it weakens the Palestinian political situation and deepens the division between the two sides of the country. This will help it achieve its plans, which aim to liquidate the cause and close the Jerusalem and refugee cases. They also aim to reinforce settlement, implement policies to annex the West Bank, and at the same time continue its strategy of exhausting Gaza and depleting its resources by means of the suffocating blockade.
There are several factors that allow us to determine the importance and value of this movement, despite the fact that some underestimated its value. They can be summarised as follows:
First, the movement strengthened the concept of national unity. This was clearly demonstrated by the wide participation of the political, media and cultural elites, as well as university students, released prisoners, and the masses from all walks of life and social classes. I believe that the fact that the movement lacked any partisan and organisational affiliations is an important distinction and advantage, thus allowing it to continue and advance until it achieves its goals.
Secondly, the movement formed a new obstacle after the Great Return Marches, in the face of those forming the deal of the century, dispelling the idea of the geographic and political separation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It proved, once again, that the West Bank and Gaza are a single social, political, and fateful unit that cannot be separated, despite the miserable state of division the Palestinian people are experiencing.
Thirdly, the movement revealed the will and the influence possessed by the elites who succeeded in gathering the masses in the streets. As soon as the concept of political unity and partnership is achieved and the sanctions are lifted, this will reflect on the occupation and its racist policies aimed at displacing the Palestinians from their land. It also revealed the Palestinian people’s advanced political awareness.
Fourthly, the movement showed the great status and standing Gaza possesses, as well as the level of respect and appreciation it has in the hearts of the people. This is an indication of the support the resistance has from the public generally.
Fifthly, it stresses the fact that the division cannot be ended and sanctions cannot be lifted solely by speeches and press statements. We need real initiatives that bring all Palestinians together on the ground and we need to work together to restore political matters back to normal.
Finally, only the Palestinians will help themselves, and therefore, it is necessary to continue such serious and crucial movements and initiatives to prevent the collapse of the Gaza Strip. We must also spread this sentiment to all Palestinian cities and locations at home and abroad, while clarifying the need to direct the compass towards the occupation and to expose its plans and conspiracies. This can only be achieved through re-forming the consensual political system that supports and backs the armed and popular resistance. It is also necessary to take into consideration the importance of Arab and Muslim surroundings and the need for the support they provide in all forms and the impact it has in strengthening the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and establishing their independent state.
This article first appeared in Arabic in The Palestinian Information Centre in June
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.