After almost 11 years of an inhumane siege, Palestinians in Gaza have launched a series of nonviolent protest camps and marches towards the Green Line with Israel. The protests began on the 30th of March – Palestinian Land Day – and will culminate on the 15th of May, when Palestinians mark the Nakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic, Israel’s mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948.

The main demand of the protesters is the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their towns and villages. Over 80 percent of Gaza’s population are refugees and they live without basic human rights and under an illegal blockade.

Faced with such dire living conditions ordinary Palestinians feel they have no alternative but to peacefully make their demands heard.

Israel’s response has been one of brutal repression. Israel’s leaders have ordered troops to open fire on Palestinians taking part in the Great March of Return.

So far at least 30 Palestinians have been killed with 3,078 injured – 105 in serious condition – including children and journalists. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an unprecedented warning that Israeli leaders may face trial for the killings of unarmed Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.

GUE/NGL stands in solidarity with Palestinians taking part in the Great March of Return and supports their demands for the right of return under international law. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the criminal attacks being waged and the flagrant violations of human rights, international law, and UN resolutions.

We urge Israel to stop its attacks on civilians and listen to their demands for human rights. The EU bears heavy responsibility for the crimes Israel is committing against the Palestinian people as it must stop enabling Israel’s impunity and exercise meaningful measures of accountability.

We urge the ICC to initiate formal investigations on the killings and we call on the UN Security Council and the EU to actively support accountability measures towards Israel, which is demonstratively ignoring the international community, provoking political instability and a new round of bloodshed.