‘We march with them:’ Hundreds of people rally in San Francisco to support Palestine – East Bay Times
SAN FRANCISCO – Hundreds of people poured into the Mission district on Saturday, rallying to support Palestine amid a deadly wave of violence in the Gaza Strip.
A thrilling crowd of families with kids in strollers, teens on skateboards, students and elderly residents of the Bay Area filled the corner of 16th and Valencia Streets from late in the year. afternoon, carrying signs like “Jews Against Apartheid”, “Viva Palestina Libre” and “Indians for Palestine” before walking down Mission Street to the beat of several drums and chants.
Some residents of the Bay Area have been agitated by the footage of the escalation of violence that began last Monday and has left 145 Palestinians dead in Gaza – including 41 children and 23 women – and eight dead on the Israeli side, all of them except one civilians, including a 5- year-old child. The violence began on Monday when Hamas fired rockets at Israel.
Israel on Saturday criticized the Gaza Strip with airstrikes, bombing the home of a Hamas leader, killing a family of 10 in a refugee camp, most of whom were children, and spraying a skyscraper that housed the Associated Press and other media.
Bilal Alsallakh, 35, who lives on the peninsula, arrived at the protest on Saturday with a Syrian friend after watching the news all week with a growing sense of horror.
“We have seen whole buildings collapse, one after another, one after another,” he said. “It’s destruction for humans.”
Ahmad, a 40-year-old Palestinian immigrant who refused to share his last name, walked out of the East Bay with his wife, children and mother to attend the rally. Having lived in the United States for 14 years, he is more than frustrated by the continued support of the United States government for Israel, he said.
Saturday also marked al-Nakba Day, or “the Catastrophe,” commemorating the estimated 700,000 people who were displaced in 1948 when Israel was founded.
“It’s upsetting to see just innocent, civilians being killed by our taxes here first,” he said, referring to the billions of dollars in aid the United States provides to Israel each year. . “What’s going on is just beyond what you can imagine.”
US President Joe Biden, who called for a de-escalation but supported Israel’s “right to self-defense,” reportedly spoke separately by phone this week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Several protesters directly linked the events in Palestine to the oppression of black Americans. Cornelius Moore, 66, said he had followed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades as a longtime activist for black liberation and against apartheid.
“There is just a very big connection between the history of the United States because it is a country colonized by settlers,” Moore said. “I’m just really angry, mainly, that the United States continues to unconditionally support Israel.”
As the crowd marched towards Mission, they carried dozens of Palestinian flags, sometimes in the form of capes or held high on poles. Jamel Ouchene waved a 20-foot mast stacked with three flags, including the Palestinian flag, the Tunisian flag and that of Algeria, his home country, a staunch political ally of Palestine.
On Friday, he planted a Palestinian flag in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in solidarity.
“I’m really moved about it,” Ouchene said. “I want the Palestinians to feel like they are not alone. We walk with them all the way. “
A heavy police presence with at least five vans followed the protesters – who spanned about four long city blocks – as they continued down Mission Street, but the groups did not appear to interact. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” chanted the crowd.
In the back, a man in his sixties named Robert describes himself as the son of Holocaust survivors. He declined to share his last name for fear of repercussions when he visited his extended family in Israel this summer.
“Being an American makes it better, and as a Jewish element I feel compelled to say something,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.