After truce, one last demonstration at Israeli consulate
Activists concluded Black Friday with a demonstration at the Israeli consulate last night to express their support for the Palestinians, who suffered a week-long Israeli attack on Gaza.
“This has to end,” said Leslie Radford, a demonstrator. “I stood out here before to protest these same attacks, against these same, essentially, defenseless, innocent people, and it has to stop.”
The recent violence between Israelis and Palestinians occurred in response to an increasing number of rocket attacks since 2009 when the nation last attacked Gaza. However, Palestinian supporters say the rocket attacks have only been in response to incidents of Israeli violence.
The latest attack on Gaza left over 150 Palestinians dead and many more wounded; five Israelis died in retaliatory missile strikes from Hamas.
Because Israel possess the majority of political and military power in its conflict with the Palestinians, Radford said the resolution of hostilities sits upon the shoulders of the Israeli leadership.
“This is all on Israel as far as I’m concerned,” she said. “All they have to do is stop their oppression. … If they do that, all this would end tomorrow.
“Israel bullies Palestine, the U.S. bullies Syria, the greater powers are using their power against the smallest of adversaries. This is just brutality, violence for its own sake.”
Last night’s demonstration was quiet, with approximately 40 in attendance. Many protesters had participated in demonstrations over Walmart’s labor practices earlier that day. The Palestinian supporters mostly socialized and held a vigil with lit candles lined up along the sidewalk in front of the office building that holds the Israeli consulate.
Josh Leffler, a student of Middle Eastern history who attended the demonstration, lived in Egypt for several years while pursuing his studies and teaching English. Because of the friends he made in the Middle East, the Israeli attack on Gaza bears a certain intimacy in his life.
“While this was happening, I was following my friends on Twitter … having to watch my friends tweet things like ‘The last explosion blew out the window in the room that I was in,’” he said. “It’s been really difficult for me.”
In 2009, Leffler witnessed the aftereffects of Israeli violence first-hand. At the Gaza border he photographed the transfer of wounded Palestinians to Egyptian hospitals. He also accompanied a delegation of students to Gaza who provided medical aid for the wounded.
“I saw a lot of pain, a lot of really messed up people,” he said.
Last night’s demonstration ended as quietly as it began. With a ceasefire in place, the bitter acrimony seen at previous demonstrations was gone and only a subtle exhaustion remained as protesters merely wanted to express their solidarity for the Palestinian plight.
However, Leffler doesn’t see the recent truce as being meaningful, because, he said, “the condition that people in Gaza are living in is incredibly hostile.”
“My friends tell me they can’t sleep at night because of the sound of [Israeli] drones,” he said. “They tell me of farmers [near the border] who can’t farm because they are shot at by young IDF soldiers who just think it is fun to shoot at Arabs.”
Just yesterday, the Guardian newspaper reported that Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian protester and wounded several others. The Israelis accuse the man of attempting to cross the border and break the truce. Witnesses say he was visiting his family’s land, hoping to continue farming there.
Though Leffler admits it is controversial, he said he has no problem with Hamas resorting to violence and firing rockets into Israel.
“You have this military power that is occupying people’s land and displacing them and bulldozing their houses. … They don’t have rights, they don’t have a state,” he said. “I feel they have no other way to resist.
“They are completely left alone, facing an incredibly brutal occupying military.”