As violence spikes between Israel and Palestine, Grand Rapids group gathers in protest

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Protesters in downtown Grand Rapids called for an end to US aid to Israel as the country’s ongoing conflict with Palestine erupted into a new round of violence this week.

About 35 people gathered on the corner of Fulton Street and Division Avenue for a protest called “Free Palestine: Stop US Aid to Israel”.

They hope to raise awareness of the conflict and Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, which many consider illegal. They say that the Palestinians suffer disproportionately from the losses of the Israelis.

Both the Israelis and Hamas, the leadership in Gaza, have exchanged artillery strikes in the past few days. Israeli technology is more advanced, however, and so far 119 Palestinians, including 30 children, have been killed in Gaza. Eight Israelis have died in rocket attacks.

In 2020, the United States provided Israel with $ 3.8 billion, according to a memo by the Congressional Research Service, which accounts for roughly 20 percent of the country’s defense budget.

Barbara Howard, organizer of Saturday’s event, said the aid was simply not acceptable and described Israel’s actions as “war crimes”.

“We are resisting because it is our tax dollars that do this,” she said. “We are sending so much aid to Israel.

“We’re here to say that we’re not for it and that people shouldn’t just call it off or ignore it because it’s what we do. We are complicit, ”she said.

Several people with Palestinian ties attended the gathering on Saturday. A 30-year-old man and his mother who immigrated to the United States from Palestine showed up.

“I think the biggest misconception is that people who pay attention to these things pay attention to these flare-ups and think that this is when the conflict started. But the conflict has been going on for 73 years, ”said the 30-year-old, who refused to be named for fear of retaliation when he travels to Palestine.

The latest violence has been compounded, according to most reports, by an ongoing attempt to evict seven Palestinian families from a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Howard said after scheduling the event on social media on Saturday, people of Palestinian origin from the Grand Rapids area contacted her and said they wanted to attend.

She said it was good for her to be visible at the protest.

“They are our neighbors here in Grand Rapids and around the world,” she said.

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