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#51daysinGaza protest marks start of Israel’s 2014 war - and determined resistance of the Palestinian people

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
July 10, 2015
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Minneapolis marches in solidarity with Palestine.
Minneapolis marches in solidarity with Palestine. (Larry Whiten)

Minneapolis, MN - On July 8, about a 150 Palestinians and their supporters rallied in Loring Park and marched through the Uptown neighborhood here to mark the one-year anniversary of Israel’s 51-day bombing campaign against Gaza. The demonstration was organized by the Minnesota Anti-War Committee (AWC).

“It’s important we make waves in the streets so that people know what we stand for and so our cause cannot be ignored,” said Karmel Sabri, who joined the AWC after coming to protests against last summer’s bombing of Gaza.

From July 8 to August 26, 2014, Israel committed many atrocities, including killing 2310 Palestinians (519 children), bombing seven United Nations shelters, permanently displacing over 108,000 people through the systematic targeted bombings of multi-family homes, and deliberately damaging Gaza's only power plant.

Top Israeli officials circulated explicit incitements to genocide during the war against Gaza, and have continued to do so. The U.S. is directly complicit in these war crimes, providing more than $3 billion in foreign aid to Israel every year. The protesters urged an end to that support.

The protest began with a theater skit starring 10-year old Adel Sabri, who played the part of Omar, a boy who lives with his family in Gaza. As Omar spoke of uprooted olive trees, a brother arrested for throwing rocks, the bombing of Gaza, and the tireless resistance of the Palestinian people, U.S. reporters got the story wrong again and again. Adel said, “The play made me cry because I thought that could have happened to me.”

Sarah Martin of Committee Against FBI Repression spoke about the case of Rasmea Odeh, and urged all to make plans to travel to Cincinnati for Odeh’s appeal in September. “She is our hero, and she has come under attack only because she is a Palestinian who has dedicated her life to the liberation of Palestine.”

Also speaking before the march were Craig Wood, of Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 and Hussein Khatib of American Muslims for Palestine, Minnesota (AMP). AMP-MN helped to lead all of last summer’s demonstrations against the siege of Gaza.

After the speakers, rush hour traffic was stalled as marchers took to the major thoroughfare, Hennepin Avenue. Sabry Wazwaz of the AWC took to the bullhorn for a mile and a half, leading the crowd in chants of, “Free free Palestine!” and “Netanyahu you will learn, by the millions we’ll return!”

At the end, marchers gathered for closing remarks by Mel Reeves. He struck a hopeful cord, reminding folks of the victories of African Americans against slavery and South Africans against apartheid. While the struggle for Palestine may look dire, he said, “We will win.” The crowd joined in, “We will win! We will win!”

The AWC called on supporters to hold Minnesota senators accountable for supporting Israel throughout last summer’s war on Gaza. The Anti-War Committee held protests at both senators’ offices, including civil disobedience at Franken’s campaign headquarters.

The protest also launched the AWC’s social media campaign #51DaysinGaza. Follow and share @AntiwarMN posts that aim to educate and mobilize action through the end of August.

Endorsers of protest included Women Against Military Madness, Students for Justice in Palestine, Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 Minneapolis, MN Peace Action Coalition, Welfare Rights Committee, MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee, U.S. Palestinian Community Network-MN Chapter, MN Break the Bonds Campaign, and American Muslims for Palestine-MN.