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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Gainesville residents protest Israel-Hamas war, call for ceasefire

A car circled the block shouting “Palestine sucks,” “f-ck you” at the protestors

<p>A attendee at the &quot;Stand with Palestine&quot; protest holds a &quot;Not war, it&#x27;s colonialism; not eviction, it&#x27;s ethnic cleansing; not conflict, it&#x27;s occupation; not complicated, it&#x27;s genocide&quot; sign at the corner of University Avenue on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. </p>

A attendee at the "Stand with Palestine" protest holds a "Not war, it's colonialism; not eviction, it's ethnic cleansing; not conflict, it's occupation; not complicated, it's genocide" sign at the corner of University Avenue on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023.

A crowd of 75 people wearing keffiyehs and the colors of the Palestinian flag gathered in protest at the corner of University Avenue and Southwest 13th Street Monday evening.

The protest — organized by the Party for Socialism & Liberation — called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, which has claimed the lives of 4,300 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

The UF Police Department, Gainesville Police Department and Florida Highway Patrol guarded the event. 

Throughout the protest, a gray Mazda 3 hatchback circled the block with people in the backseat shouting “Palestine sucks,” “f-ck you,” and “Hamas are terrorists” at the protesters through a megaphone. Passengers held their middle fingers up to the protestors at several points. 

Wahida Choudry, a 25-year-old Gainesville resident, said the expletives were “incredibly disrespectful.”

“We are literally protesting for freedom, protesting for peace, protesting for people to stop dying, and they come around and they wish death upon us,” Choudry said. 

Laila Fakhoury, 26, kicked off the protest at 5:10 p.m., directing the crowd’s chants through a megaphone.

Among the crowd’s chants were “Free, free Palestine, long live Palestine” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the occupation’s got to go.”

Abi Fletcher, a 41-year-old Gainesville resident, carried a sign that read: “Jews Say Stop Genocide in Gaza.” Fletcher’s mother is Jewish, her grandfather is a Holocaust survivor and her father lived in Lebanon — which borders Israel — for 10 years.

“I grew up with the occupation of Palestine being very present in my family,” Fletcher said. “What is horrific at this time is that people are using Jewish suffering as a reason to commit genocide on an entire people. I’m here as someone with Jewish background to say, ‘Not in my name, not in my grandfather’s name.’”

Diana Tineo, a 21-year-old UF anthropology student, said “all of us have a stake” in the liberation of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. 

“All of our tax dollars are going towards the genocide of the Palestinian people and have been since 1948,” Tineo said. “Why do I want my taxpayer dollars that should be feeding the people here to be killing people overseas?”

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Many protestors wore red, green and black — the colors of the Palestinian flag — and traditional Palestinian attire to the protest.

Neda Abdou, a 34-year-old Gainesville resident, wore a keffiyeh, a traditional Palestinian headdress, as a symbol of resistance. Several of Abdou’s family members are currently in Gaza.

“We don't know where they are,” Abdou said. “We don't know anything about anything that's going on.”

Abdou hopes peace will come soon. 

“I just wish that there's peace in the world, peace for everyone,” Abdou said. “I don't want to hear of any more deaths from either side.”

As of Monday, tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers have gathered at the Gaza border. President Joe Biden’s administration has advised Israel to delay a ground invasion of Gaza, hoping to buy time for hostage negotiations and to allow more humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians, according to a New York Times report.

Contact Garrett Shanley at Follow him on Twitter @garrettshanley.

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Garrett Shanley

Garrett Shanley is a third-year journalism and history major and The Alligator's Fall 2023 university administration reporter. In his free time, Garrett can be found watching Wong Kar-Wai movies and brooding.

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