Gaza Return March Spokesman Ahmad Abu Rutema Calls for "Tactical Withdrawal" from the Return March: "We Have Lost the Battle for Public Opinion" and Must Invent New Tactics
Gaza activist Ahmad Abu Rutema, spokesman for the Return March, said that "we have lost the battle for public opinion in the Return March," and that "there is nothing wrong with a tactical withdrawal" when the path becomes too costly. Speaking at a symposium titled "The Palestinian Cause – Proposals on the Table," organized by Hamas, Abu Rutema said: "The images of torn limbs, wounded people, blood, and martyrs are very painful, and must drive us to reexamine all our tactics and to invent new ones." His address was broadcast by the Al-Jazeera network on August 1.
Ahmad Abu Rutema: "[The 'Return March'] has been an attempt to create a certain model. Unfortunately, we have lost the battle for public opinion in the Return March, when it became associated in people's minds with blood and the loss of limbs. This is very scary. Through the initiative of the Return March, launched by the youth, we tried to associate this form of struggle with images of life and beauty. This is the philosophy of peaceful struggle. We are fighting by developing the sense of beauty among the Palestinians, because our battle with the occupation is a battle over images and public opinion. [Israel] is trying to present us in an image of death and terrorism. So these were modest efforts, and we all complemented one another. This is not an attempt to water down the Return March, but it is okay, from time to time, to engage in a tactical withdrawal, if you sense that your path has become too costly. Our current mode of operation every Friday, with the many martyrs and wounded, is very costly. So there is nothing wrong with a tactical withdrawal, which will preserve the original idea. We want to save the idea itself from death. To the man who asked about the painful scene created by the Return March – I am completely with you. The images of torn limbs, wounded people, blood, and martyrs are very painful, and must drive us to reexamine all our tactics and to invent new ones."