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What Palestinians can teach us about popular resistance

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11.04.2018

The ongoing popular mobilisation on the Gaza border is a reminder of previous historical events where the Palestinian people rose in unison to challenge oppression and demand freedom.

Palestinian popular resistance is neither a new phenomenon nor is it an alien one. General mass strikes and civil disobedience, challenging British imperialism and Zionist settlements in Palestine, started nearly a century ago, culminating in the six-month-long general strike of 1936.

Since then, popular resistance has been a staple in Palestinian history, and it was a prominent feature of the First Intifada, the popular uprising of 1987.

It goes without saying that Palestinians need no lectures on how to resist the Israeli occupation, combat racism and defeat apartheid. They, and only they, are capable of developing the proper strategy and the tools that will eventually lead them to freedom.

Today the need for that strategy is more urgent than any other time, and there is a reason for that.

Gaza is being suffocated. Israel's decade-long blockade, combined with Arab neglect and a prolonged feud between Palestinian factions, have all served to drive Palestinians to the brink of starvation and political despair. Something had to give.

On Friday, March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians massed at Gaza's eastern border to begin a series of protests and vigils that are expected to last until May 15.

On that date, 70 years ago, Israel declared its independence, forcing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians into exile. For most Palestinians, Israel's declaration of independence, which resulted in the destruction of their homeland, was an unforgivable crime. For Israelis, May 15 is a celebration; for the Palestinian people, it is our "Nakba", our catastrophe.

But the ongoing act of mass mobilisation is not just about underscoring the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees (as enshrined in international law), nor is it just about commemorating Land Day, an event that has united all Palestinians since the bloody........

© Al Jazeera