The leaders of the Great Return March surprised the world when they organized the first demonstration along the Israel-Gaza fence on March 30, 2018. Tens of thousands of Palestinians participated. Already in the inaugural protest, Israeli snipers opened fire; they killed 14 Palestinians and wounded around 1,200 more.The leaders of the marches, a group of about 20 activists, mostly secular or left-leaning, tried as best as they could to prevent people from getting too close to the fence. Hamas, which originally provided logistical support that contributed to the success of the protests (namely, commutes and publicity), slowly started to play a more significant role in the marches.
Hamas forced its way into the Great Return March and may have taken over the protests, but without Hamas, Gaza wouldn’t have been able to ease the blockade as much. Hamas is a political force that can deal with Israel in a manner that neither Fatah nor the Palestinian Authority is capable of.