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The bloody scenes I'll never forget from Gaza's Return March

A year ago, Israeli forces gunned down 64 demonstrators during Gaza’s Great Return March. Palestinian journalist Hind Khoudary was there to see it all — the bloody stretchers, the wounded, and the dead.

By Hind Khoudary

Medics evacuate a Palestinian protester who was shot by Israeli snipers during protests inside the Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

Medics evacuate a Palestinian protester who was shot by Israeli snipers during protests inside the Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

GAZA CITY — F16s are flying on low velocity over the Gaza sky as I get flashbacks to May 14 of last year. I don’t know if I will ever be able forget all the scenes I witnessed on that ugly day. The images I witnessed are carved into my brain and heart until today, perhaps forever.

It was very early in the morning, everyone was predicting a backlash from the Palestinians after the U.S. opened its embassy in Jerusalem. I headed to the protest area early that day; women, men, and children waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against Trump.

I was working with two news outlets and as a fixer with internationals. Even today I have no idea how I was able to cope with all of the workload. By 11 a.m. the internet was disconnected entirely. No signal.

Suddenly, all I heard were ambulances. The wounded on crutches, live ammunition and tear gas canisters fired into the air. The next thing I knew, paramedics were washing blood from the stretchers, their uniforms turning red.

The situation grew more dangerous. My phone wouldn’t stop ringing — everyone was trying to call me to make sure I was okay. I said I was, but my trembling voice and the screaming in the background told a different story.

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Running out of breath with the heavy flack jacket, we hid from live ammunition under the burning sun while suffocating from tear gas for hours. The scene was so bad that I couldn’t speak for two days.

I won’t ever forget the scene of the 30-year-old man shot in the middle of his head in front of my eyes, the little children crying from teargas as they searched for their parents, the Israeli soldiers stationed behind the fence arresting three boys and beating them up, the 80-year-old woman who participated in the march, demanding the right to return because she still believes she will go back to the town she was expelled from someday.

Bashir Faraj, 23, lost his right leg after he was hit by live bullets that completely fractured his bones and tissues. His leg was eventually amputated. I met Faraj a day after his injury, when he was screaming in the hospital bed with the external fixture on his right leg. He never thought he will lose his leg. Faraj was only one of the hundreds of Palestinians my age that I interviewed who lost limbs — and their futures — that day. All in all, 64 people lost their lives that day, and thousands more, like Faraj, were wounded.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops during Nakba Day protests on the Israel-Gaza fence, east of Gaza City, May 15, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops during Nakba Day protests on the Israel-Gaza fence, east of Gaza City, May 15, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

I have no idea if May 15 will be a new deadly day this year, if the Israeli forces will use lethal force against Palestinian protesters. But whether they do or not, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have the right to protest the harsh conditions they have been facing over the past 12 years under the blockade. Unemployment, poverty, and depression are part of every home here. Despite the fact that the Great Return March has been politically weaponized over the past months, the people of Gaza are still protesting because they still have hope that they can remove the blockade and improve the lives of the two million Palestinians living here.

Despite all the difficulties I witnessed as I covered the protest — the violence, the blood, and the injustice — I will continue to report and raise the voice of the voiceless people in the Gaza Strip, today, tomorrow, and forever.

Hind Khoudary is a reporter based in Gaza. 

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    COMMENTS

    1. Lewis from Afula

      64 dead Gazans was a good start but not enough in my opinion.
      These terrorists need to be taught a lesson that they and the World will never forget.
      After we teach them that lesson, these dogs will never bother us ever again.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        @Lewis: As always, short on details. How many dead Gazans do we need?

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          We give this cretinous troll too much attention in the first place, but it would seem to me this Judeonazi has made it quite clear how many dead Gazans he needs. He made it clear when he said the following:

          “A few barrels of cyanide dumped into Gaza’s water supply will solve all our problems.”
          https://972mag.com/start-ramadan-marred-bombing-poverty-gaza/141319/

          I use Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s term, “Judeonazi,” with clarity. It was, after all, the Nazis who pioneered the use of just the kind of industrial chemical mass death for which this cretin, Lewis, is an enthusiast. What is the difference between Zyklon B and cyanide?
          And realize that Lewis, with his prescription of cyanide dosed on a captive population, inadvertently admitted that Gaza is exactly the occupied population that all the right wingers scream it is not. By calling for the controlled extermination of a controlled population, Lewis is acknowledging in the most gruesome way that Gaza to this day remains under Israeli occupation.*

          * Human Rights Watch, 2005: “…Israel will continue to be an Occupying Power [of the Gaza Strip] under international law and bound by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention because it will retain effective control over the territory and over crucial aspects of civilian life. Israel will not be withdrawing and handing power over to a sovereign authority – indeed, the word ‘withdrawal’ does not appear in the [2005 disengagement] document at all… The IDF will retain control over Gaza’s borders, coastline, and airspace, and will reserve the right to enter Gaza at will. According to the Hague Regulations, ‘A territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised’. International jurisprudence has clarified that the mere repositioning of troops is not sufficient to relieve an occupier of its responsibilities if it retains its overall authority and the ability to reassert direct control at will.”

          Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            According to Ben:
            If the IDF left Gaza = the IDF remains in Gaza.
            If the IDF remains in Gaza = the IDF has left Gaza

            Forget all logic here, folks
            Its Ben the SJW nutter we are talikng about.

            Reply to Comment
    2. joe smith

      Completely biased article. It’s funny how they call them demonstrations, as they are violent riots. Amazing how much arabs lie to make their false truths.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        @Joe Smith: This post of yours is a lie. Shall I then follow your lowering style and say it’s amazing how much the Jews lie? The entire occupation, top to bottom, is built on lies. A huge intricate apparatus of lies.
        Israel tolerates no protest whatsoever, violent or non-violent, and works constantly to turn non-violent protest violent, so it can play the victim and deal with all resistance on the violent terms it loves. This is a corollary of the fact that Netanyahu secretly loves the Hamas. And a corollary of the fact that Israel only listens to violence.

        Noam Sheizaf
        Why do we only listen to violence?
        https://972mag.com/why-do-we-only-listen-to-violence/117773/

        Reply to Comment
    3. itshak Gordine

      To attack the Israeli border is stupid knowing that the soldiers will shoot. Sending incendiary kites to Israel is irresponsible. To demand the destruction of the state of Israel recognized by the United Nations since 1948 is a crime against humanity and a war crime. Israel has the right to defend itself and to protect its population.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        @Itshak: So if the United Nations decides one day that Israel is an apartheid state (not that it could ever, ever happen….) then…?

        Reply to Comment
        • itshak Gordine

          Why talk about things that do not exist ..?

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Agreed. Let’s stop talking about distorting, crafted propaganda fictions like “attack the Israeli border” and Palestinian “foreigners” and “we are commanded to love and respect the stranger and we do”–and start talking about things that do exist, such as belligerent occupation of protected persons and their constant abuse at the hands of the Israeli occupier in violation of the Geneva Conventions; callous, race-based persecution of asylum seekers, etc.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Nope. The Gazans have NO RIGHT to:
            launch incendiary balloons,
            release explosive kites,
            dig terror tunnels.
            fire rockets
            or attempt Jihadi invasions of the border.

            When Feiglin becomes PM, any attempt to do any of these things will trigger a total war in which Israel will apply the full force of its military arsenal. Muslim Gaza will be obliterated and its former inhabitants will be dead or relocated. Think of what the Red Army did to Konigsberg.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            You and Feiglin seem more like Hitler guys than Stalin guys, but yeah, I can see you as a Stalin guy too. The Israelis have no right to occupy Gaza.

            Reply to Comment
          • itshak Gordine

            As soon as Ben has no more arguments when someone opposes his inexhaustible blah blah, he uses insults (Stalin, KKK, apartheid, etc.)

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            So ‘Lewis” here said he wants to do to the Palestinians what the Red Army did to Koenigsberg “when Feiglin becomes PM.” Now, by utterly ignoring that bit of Stalinist savagery, and pretending I pulled Stalin out of thin air as an insult, you, Halevy, are trying to normalize far right extremism. You want to insert the idea that it is normal and acceptable discourse, nothing beyond the pale, to talk like ‘Lewis’ does, and pretend you just can’t figure out where on Earth I came up with “Stalin.”

            We are not going to participate in this project of normalizing far right extremism.

            Oh, and I came up with the other guy’s name, the Holocaust-perpetrator, that is, because on another page, as you know, ‘Lewis’ advocated mass industrial death by chemicals for an entire people. We are not going to normalize that either, Halevy.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            Until the siege of Gaza is pulled, and every last Israeli settler and soldier has been frog-marched back to their own side of the Green Line, every Palestinian has my personal blessing to stab/shoot/blow up as many Israelis as they feel is necessary. I’d prefer they stuck purely to greasing armed personnel and settlers, but hey? It’s not like Israel avoids collateral damage.

            If you have any objections to this, maybe consider the objections others have to your own favored methods of treating Palestinians (e.g. poisoning their water, “transfer,” shooting protesters, etc.). You have no way to object to what I suggested without being a hypocrite.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            According to Ray:
            If the IDF left Gaza = the IDF remains in Gaza.
            If the IDF remains in Gaza = the IDF has left Gaza

            Forget all logic here, folks
            Its Ray the SJW nutter we are talikng about.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            A careless typo? Corrected:

            If the IDF left Gaza = the IDF has left Gaza
            If the IDF remains in Gaza = the IDF remains in Gaza.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            You literally just copy-and-pasted a comment you made elsewhere.

            And it still doesn’t make any sense, or actually rebut/address anything anyone says.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            ‘Lewis’ did not actually answer Ray because he can’t answer Ray. Ray is right: Lewis has no way to object to what was suggested without being a hypocrite. But I am not sure a type like ‘Lewis’ does object. I think that despite his show of being aggrieved, Lewis, like Bibi, actually treasures violence by the other side. It’s the only language he understands and the only language he listens to and as long as things stay violent, ‘Lewis’ thinks he wins. He gets to play the victim while being the overwhelming aggressor. The truth is contained in this recent article:

            The Israeli right is now openly saying it wants to keep Hamas in power
            As the latest round of fighting in Gaza and southern Israel died down, it became clear that keeping Hamas in power has become a central tenet of the Israeli right.
            https://972mag.com/israeli-right-hamas-gaza-palestinians/141386/

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            If the IDF & settlers are in Gaza = OCCUPATION
            If the IDF & settlers have left Gaza = OCCUPATION

            Of course it makes sense – to Ray & Ben that is.
            Israelis are BAAAAD
            Arabs are GOOOOD
            Get it ?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Two things:

            1. Human Rights Watch, 2005:

            “Israel will continue to be an Occupying Power [of the Gaza Strip] under international law and bound by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention because it will retain effective control over the territory and over crucial aspects of civilian life. Israel will not be withdrawing and handing power over to a sovereign authority – indeed, the word ‘withdrawal’ does not appear in the [2005 disengagement] document at all… The IDF will retain control over Gaza’s borders, coastline, and airspace, and will reserve the right to enter Gaza at will. According to the Hague Regulations, ‘A territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised’. International jurisprudence has clarified that the mere repositioning of troops is not sufficient to relieve an occupier of its responsibilities if it retains its overall authority and the ability to reassert direct control at will.”

            2. The universally extremely low quality of your approach to all of this, here and elsewhere, is borne out by your equating “Israelis” with Jews. As opposed to “Arabs.” In Lewis’ mind, the Arabs citizens of Israel do not even exist.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            How can Israel hand power over to a sovereign authority when there is no sovereign authority in Gaza ?

            The PLO is not a sovereigm authority. Neither are Hamas.
            Indeed, these 2 mafias are not interested in creating any sovereignty because they will then be in charge of printing an independent currency, raising taxes and running a budget etc. But that will interfere with their money-laundering and wholescale thieving activities. Moreover, it will stop their favorite hobby – killing Israelis.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            For a long time now everyone has noticed that you never address the issues or answer the questions because you can’t.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            A vacuous response from our American-based appeaser,

            Reply to Comment
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