Palestinian activism energised by Arab Spring

Palestinian activists adapt tactics from uprisings to their own struggle, as tide of Pan-Arabism brings popular support.

Aside from the backing of the various Palestinian political factions, the return to Palestine movement has drawn strength from the grassroots Pan-Arabism that has resurged as the Arab Spring spreads across the region.

All activists interviewed were adamant that the Nakba Day march would not have been possible if Hezbollah had not given the protest its explicit blessing.

The May 15 protest would not have been possible, they say, if the political party had not negotiated with the Lebanese army for protesters to be allowed to travel unhindered to Maroun al-Ras.

Hezbollah also offered some financial support to the protesters, helping to finance the buses that transported refugees from the camps to the border.

This explicit backing of the Palestinian protesters is all the more significant given the historic tensions that have hindered relations between Palestinian refugees and Lebanese Shia population.

In Egypt, the opening of the Rafah border crossing has the potential to allow Egyptian nationals a means to protest in solidarity with the inhabitants of Gaza – depending on how free Egyptians will be to travel to Gaza in practice.

The movement has also found backing amongst Lebanese civil society, keen to get involved in the Arab Spring.

Members of a pan-Arab nationalist youth group in the seaside city of Saida told Al Jazeera that justice for the Palestinian people was a central concern for their group, and one that brought Arabs together across religious or sectarian lines.

“May 15 renewed the soul of the people,” Hussein Shukar, a member of the group, says.


Yasmine Ryan is a journalist with Al Jazeera.