Hundreds of people gathered in front of the San Francisco Israeli Consulate July 7 to protest the latest Israeli attacks on Palestinians, before marching through the streets to Union Square.
“Today we are saying to them ‘Enough, this will not happen again,’” said Hatem Bazian, a U.C. Berkeley professor of near eastern studies. “Your atrocities and crimes committed against the Palestinians, there will be an answer for it. There will be a time where everyone responsible will be brought to justice.”
More than a dozen Bay Area groups organized the event in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Many are angry over Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine and the continued financial, political and military support it receives from the United States.
“Now for us here in America, make no mistake about it, we are funding these atrocities,” said Bazian. “We give them $3 billion a year at a time when our own country needs it most.”
The latest escalation began after Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, was kidnapped on July 2. He was allegedly tortured and burned alive before being dumped in a forest near Jerusalem.
The situation escalated further when Israeli police were caught on video a day later using excessive force against Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, an American citizen who was on summer vacation from Florida. Khdeir is the cousin of Muhammed Abu Khdeir. The video showed Israeli police punching and kicking Tariq in the head even after he was unconscious.
“They had assaulted him so bad that he had passed out from the pain, and his face was not recognizable,” said protester Leila Amal. “Because of his American background, Tariq has had the ability to reach the public. [But] this happens to Palestinian youth every day.
“It [is] also a harsh reminder that no matter what passport we hold, we as Palestinians will always be recognized as sub-human to the Israeli machine,” Amal continued. “Tariq could have been any one of us, our brothers and sisters or our peers, simply because we identify as or with the Palestinian people.”
Monday’s demonstration was one of many being held nationally and internationally. The demonstrators–wide-ranging in age–were a diverse group of Arabs, Jews and people in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
“What was outstanding about the demonstration was not that there were hundreds people there, or that they took over the streets of San Francisco, or that they stood tall and strong in the face of the intimidation tactics of Zionists and police. But what stood out most was seeing that the majority of the people there were from our Arab community–a community that has faced ongoing and escalating colonialism, occupation, displacement and criminalization,” said Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. “And despite all the powerful forces attempting to silence and crush our movement, it is clear that our resilience runs deep. Our people hold our struggle dear to their hearts and understand the liberation of Palestine to be central to the liberation of us all.”
Story by: Ramsey El-Qare and Charlie El-Qare