A year has passed since the return march project began. Preparations for the project began in early 2018 as an initiative of social activists and organizations operating in the Gaza trip. In the early stages, when the idea was being formulated, the organizers of the march claimed that the events would not be of a political nature, that official representatives of the various organizations would not participate, and that there would be no violence. Hamas supported the idea of the marches, but preferred to remain behind the scenes in the initial preparation stage.
However, Hamas quickly took over the reins and took control of the return marches, even before the first march took place, on March 30, 2018. The longer the marches continued, the greater the importance attached to them by Hamas. This is because, in Hamas’s view, the marches enable it to achieve several goals: letting off steam by the Gazan public in particular, and the young people in particular, and diverting their feelings of frustration, which stem from the daily hardships, against Israel; obtaining financial and economic support for the Gaza Strip, which will alleviate the severe hardships prevailing there; lifting the siege from the Gaza Strip and opening the border crossings for free passage. Along with all this, at the hearts and minds level, raising awareness of the “refugee problem” and the refugees’ aspiration to return to their places of residence in Israel (hence the name of the marches: “the return marches”).