Protesting Israel’s Gaza siege
SAN DIEGO--More than 100 people marched through Balboa Park on January 9 to oppose the continuing Israeli siege of Gaza. The march commemorated the second anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, the 2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza that resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 Palestinians.
Organized by Al-Awda, the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, the march wound through the tourist center of San Diego, chanting in English, Spanish and Arabic. Chants included "From the river to the sea, Palestine must be free" and "Viva, viva, viva, la lucha Palestina (Long live the Palestinian struggle)."
In addition to Al-Awda, Students for Justice in Palestine, the International Socialist Organization, the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation endorsed the demonstration.
As a result of the 2009 Israeli invasion, according to Zahi Damuni of Al-Awda, "1,431 Palestinians, including 325 children were slaughtered, and on top of that, there were 5,300 Palestinians who were maimed during that attack, using phosphorus and other weaponry that the U.S. government supplied to the Zionist state of Israel."
Through its aid to Israel, Damuni said, "The U.S. is complicit in the crimes being committed against the Palestinian people." He added, "Gaza is still under siege, our people are still resisting in Gaza, and we cannot let them down. We have to reach out, speak out. Impose yourself on your co-workers; impose yourself on the people around you. This is Palestine, and Palestine is ours."
In a moving culmination to the demonstration, the names and ages of Gazan children martyrs were read. After each name, the demonstrators responded by chanting "Presente."
The demonstration was met by a group of about 200 Zionists counterprotesters, who waved Israeli flags, sang American and Israeli patriotic songs and defended the Israeli siege of Gaza. A wall of motorcycle police, facing the Palestinian activists, separated the two opposing groups.
Al-Awda will hold another rally on January 21 at the Los Angeles Federal Building, beginning at 3 p.m.