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Students, faculty react as pro-Palestine demonstrations continue

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Over 3,000 people gathered in Houston on Saturday in the most recent demonstration for the end of the Israeli attacks against Palestinian territories.

The protest took place the day after a ceasefire was held between Israeli forces and Hamas, after an over 10-day bombardment of the Gaza strip left over 240 Palestinians dead, including 60 children. Twelve Israelis, including two children, were also killed.

Students for Justice for Palestine officer Noreen Saqer said this violence in Gaza is nothing new.

“When talking about Gaza, we are talking about a densely populated tiny strip of land that Israel has besieged from land, air and sea,” Saqer said. “These events are not occurring in a vacuum but are connected to 70 years of Israeli ethnic cleansing.”

UH program director of Middle Eastern studies Emran El-Badawi said that the bombardment began after an Israeli high court ordered the eviction of several families in an east Jerusalem neighborhood called Sheikh Jarrah, handing the homes over to Jewish settlers.

“Palestinians engaged in peaceful protest, notably on and around the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, and were attacked by Israeli security forces with rubber bullets, stun grenades and other means,” El-Badawi said. “The mosque itself was attacked while the Muslims faithfully worshiped inside during the holy month of Ramadan.”

President Biden supported the ceasefire, but gained criticism from members of the democratic party over his handling of the conflict and for a new bill that would provide Israel with $735 million in weapons.

“We fund endless war in the Middle East, including in the so-called holy land,” El-Badawi said. “The U.S. provides approximately $3.8 billion annually and various military and intelligence capabilities to Israel.”

Saqer said that this is one of the many occurrences where the Palestinian population is punished through these avenues of mass casualties and incarceration.

“The Nakba (exodus) is ongoing and the situation will not end with a cease-fire,” Saqer said. “Palestinians will still be under illegal military occupations without freedom of movement under a fascist and racist system of apartheid.”

Saqer added that Palestinians feel helpless that such an equipped state is able to respond with such violence repeatedly and not be impeded.

“It has never faced consequences for its numerous onslaughts and Palestinians have been constantly trying to plead to the world that they, no one deserves this,” Saqer said.

Student organization, Coogs for Israel, added to the sentiments SJP had for loss of civilian lives. 

“Coogs for Israel advocates for peace and non-violent resolution of conflicts, we are committed to holding dialogue to better understand the status quo and to promote a future that fulfills the aspirations and self determination of both Jewish people and Palestinians,” said Coogs for Israel president Rogelio Castilla. “We are incredibly alarmed at the rise of antisemitism and fake information that has ensued lately and we aim to combat both of those things.”

El-Badawi further discussed Americans and their relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The American people have lost their appetite for perpetual war, and the ongoing Israeli- Palestinian conflict,” El-Badawi said. “If we truly believe that Black Lives Matter, and if we condemn hate against Asians, LGBTQ and other minority communities, then we can no longer tolerate the human rights violations witnessed in the latest round of conflict in the Middle East.”

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