PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – Portlanders frustrated with the violence between Israel and Palestine took to the streets.
Organizers of a march against Israel’s military actions on Palestine in the Gaza strip said they expect more than 600 people to show their support for Gazans at Pioneer Courthouse Square Thursday. However, the crowd that came to the “Emergency March to End the Assault on Gaza” was estimated to be about 250.
More than 11 local groups hosted the event.
More than 650 people confirmed via Facebook they would attend. According to the group Students United for Palestinians Equal Rights Facebook page, the event began with a Bike Swarm for Palestine at Holladay City Park, followed by the downtown rally and march.
“I can’t wait to chant this tomorrow…. “Brick By Brick, Wall By Wall! Israeli Apartheid Has To Fall!” wrote Christopher Zimmerly-Beck on the event’s Facebook page.
Violence continues in Gaza
The Palestinian death toll since July 17 is at 803, after an attack on a U.N. school Thursday. At least 119 Palestinians were killed Thursday, many of them children, according to Gaza health official Ashraf a-Kidra.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has denounced Israel’s attack on the school, which killed at least 15 civilians Thursday, marking the fourth time that school has been hit since the conflict began. Israel has lost 32 soldiers since July 17.
The march will take aim at what organizers call “the blood on American hands” from the billions of dollars in annual support the U.S. government gives Israel.
“We demand an immediate end to the US funding of the Israeli war machine and the lifting of the siege on Gaza,” event’s official release reads. During the rally, participants are expected to share their personal stories – be they Palestinian, Gazan or “Portlandian.”
Calls to America’s leaders
The action comes on the heels of three previous events in support of Palestinians and Gazans, one of which roughly 300 people attended, organizers said, including demonstrations outside Senator Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley’s office.
“Our members of Congress are responsible for giving Israel a green light to act with impunity and now we are seeing the terrible consequences: Israel’s callous destruction of civilians, women, and children with U.S. supplied weapons,” Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights president Peter Miller said in a statement.
“We are appalled by President Obama’s endorsement this criminal assault and those elected U.S. legislators who join him,” Friends of Sabeel National Program Director Don Wagner said in the same statement.
The group is demanding a ceasefire from both sides, but calls the conflict “not a war but a series of massacres committed by Israel.”
More than 11 Portland groups are sponsoring the event, including:
- Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER)
- Portland International Socialist Organization (ISO),
- Portland Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
- Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights (AUPHR),
- Friends of Sabeel Portland
- Oregon Fellowship of Reconciliation
- Portland Jobs with Justice
- Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
- Individuals For Justice
- Veterans For Peace Chapter 72
- Portland Central American Solidarity Committee (PCASC)