The Great March of Return, a six-week protest near Gaza's border with Israel, is a defiant act of non-violent resistance deeply rooted in the Palestinian struggle, says Al Jazeera's Senior Political Analyst Marwan Bishara. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have gathered near the Israeli border for a second week to demand they be allowed back to the lands they were forced from when Western powers created Israel in 1948. "The Palestinians have seen a number of protests over the decades, some were armed, some were violent, and some were acts of terror," Bishara said. "But most were acts of civil disobedience, peaceful protests, like what we've seen today." He said Friday's protests showed the Palestinians had matured politically, while the Israelis were busy stifling democracy by preventing Palestinians from the West Bank and other areas from joining their "brothers in Gaza".
Hamas and Israel came to the brink of serious conflict this summer as violence escalated along the border. The two sides attempted to reach an agreement through indirect talks mediated by the United Nations and Egypt to ease tensions in exchange for lifting some restrictions on the economically crippled enclave. But those negotiations have stalled in recent weeks.