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Gaza solidarity protest: End U.S. aid to Israel!

Freedom for Palestine!
By staff |
September 6, 2014
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Marching for Palestine in Colombia Heights.
Marching for Palestine in Colombia Heights. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Columbia Heights, MN - 175 people gathered here Sept. 5, in the heart of the Twin Cities Arab community, for a rally and march in solidarity with Palestine, organized by the Twin Cities-based Anti-War Committee (AWC). Just a week after a ceasefire agreement ended Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza, community members demanded that Israel be held accountable for war crimes and that there be an end to U.S. aid to Israel. They also called for a renewed commitment to a Boycott Divest Sanctions (BDS) movement that can help bring an end to Israeli occupation and apartheid.

According to Palestinian officials, the Israeli assault on Gaza had a terrible toll: More than 2200 Palestinians died and 11,000 were injured. 540,000 Palestinians were displaced and many of those have since seen their homes destroyed. “Hospitals, apartment buildings, schools and mosques were all targeted by U.S.-made bombs dropped by the Israeli military in their latest offensive. The Israeli military went after Gaza's water treatment center and power plant. Israel receives $8.5 million in military aid every day from the U.S. government that enables such atrocities,” said Sabry Wazwaz, a longtime Palestinian activist with the AWC.

According to Jennie Eisert, organizer with the AWC, “The siege failed to kill the spirit of the people of Gaza. Israel was forced to make concessions it had been unwilling to consider previously.” She added that Palestinians continue to need international solidarity. “Israel must be held accountable for the war crimes carried out this summer. They must be held to the terms of the ceasefire agreement, and the U.S. government must also be held accountable for giving political cover and monetary aid to the massacre. We will stand with Palestine until there is an end to the Israeli occupation and apartheid, and every Palestinian is assured the right to return."

Mariam Al Khatib, of American Muslims for Palestine-MN and University of Minnesota Students for Justice in Palestine, addressed the crowd first, “I would like to turn this gathering into a celebration of victory. Yes, Gaza won! Palestine won! And all the nations and people that supported justice and freedom for Palestine have won. This was a battle and a struggle against this occupation. Gaza is wounded - the death, injuries and destruction. We need to carry on and go beyond the demonstrations and expose the reality and the evil nature of the Israeli Occupation. Long live Palestine! Free free Palestine!”

Ashraf Abuhadid reported on his recent visit to the West Bank, where he witnessed repression, racism and mob violence against Palestinians. He described the resilience of Gazans he met, who were in West Bank hospitals, recovering from horrific injuries caused by Israeli bombing of Shuja’iyya and other Gaza neighborhoods.

Jess Sundin spoke for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, to demand justice for Chicago’s Palestinian community leader, Rasmea Odeh. She described the immigration charges against Odeh as unbelievable, and urged those present to join her in Detroit, for an Oct. 2 hearing, and later, for the trial which is set to begin on Nov. 4. “It is shameful that the U.S. government would prosecute her for the crimes committed against her by the Zionist state of Israel. When we stand with Rasmea, we are standing with Palestine. When we fight for Rasmea, we are fighting for Palestine.” The crowd then chanted, “Justice for Rasmea, drop the charges now!”

Elizabeth Geschiere of Minnesota Break the Bonds called for renewed efforts to isolate Israel through boycott, sanctions and divestment. Break the Bonds is working to end Minnesota state investments in Israel. A protest on the morning of Sept. 9 will target a State Board of Investments meeting at the State Capitol.

Mel Reeves is a community activist who has led some of the local efforts against police killings as well as the movement to demand justice for Mike Brown, killed by police last month in Ferguson, Missouri. Well aware of expressions of between protesters in Ferguson and the besieged people of Gaza, the crowd cheered his speech.

Two incredible poets, Iraqi Humom Asamarai and Palestinian Tala Alfoqaha also contributed their inspiring words to the program.

After the rally, protesters took to the streets, and marched down Central Avenue, where they slowed traffic and were seen by thousands.

The Anti-War Committee plans another rally for Palestine on Saturday, Sept. 13, at 1:00 p.m., in Loring Park, Minneapolis.

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