On Saturday, March 30, 2019, a return march was held to mark the first anniversary of the marches and the Israeli Arab Land Day. The event was expected to climax a year of marches, and extensive preparations were made for it. Before the events, Hamas and the organizers made efforts to enlist a large number of participants to demonstrate popular support. The background to the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip was rocket fire targeting central Israel; the deployment of large IDF forces near the border; the presence of the Egyptian mediators’ delegation in the Gaza Strip.
About 40,000 Palestinians participated in the events, far more than the weekly average. Two senior Hamas figures, Isma’il Haniyeh and Yahya al-Sinwar, who participated in the events, expressed satisfaction with the results. During the events the level of violence was lower than that demonstrated at recent return marches. This time Hamas made sure to restrain the demonstrators, who were ordered to distance themselves from friction sites with the IDF near the fence. To that end, for the first time, several hundred Hamas operatives (apparently from the Return march events marking the first anniversary of the marches and Israeli Arab Land Day security forces) were deployed. They wore orange vests and prevented the demonstrators from approaching the border fence and clashing with IDF soldiers or crossing the border into Israeli territory. The presence of the Egyptian mediating delegation at the demonstration sites also had a moderating influence.