Pro-Gaza rally held in Riverside

Groups call for end of civilian deaths


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 100 people gathered in Memorial Park in Riverside Saturday to take part in a pro-Gaza rally. The groups called for peace in the Middle East and marched to a local representative's office for help.

The rally was part of a larger national movement Saturday in Washington, D.C. where groups are calling for an end to the violence in the Middle East and the Israeli occupation of Gaza.

"I think that what we need to do as a people and as a nation is to step aside and we're going to call on the corporations to divest themselves of their interest in Israel as a way of kind of like a boycott and sanctions as you will," said Willie Hager with the group Veterans For Peace.

Veterans for Peace and the Jacksonville progressive coalition gathered to demand a stop to the killing in Gaza.

For Palestinians like Aman Iekahok, the movement is a chance to bring local awareness to an international crisis.

News 4Jax asked how the rally in Jacksonville can impact the situation in Gaza.

"I ask myself that all of the time. Pretty much, if we educate people, we educate our co-workers and we educate our friends I think then we can make a difference together," said Iekahok.

Many parents brought their children as a way to explain the escalating violence in their homeland. For 10-year-old Jenna Shihaddh, the ongoing Israeli occupation is difficult to understand.

"Well, we were here first. This is our country, and we feel like we should have our country back and keep it.  And the Jewish people  they have their own country, so they shouldn't take over our country," said Shihaddh.

More than 100 people marched to Rep. Ander Crenshaw's Riverside office to be heard. Their hope is that the local leader can create a larger dialogue and change for the people of Gaza.

"We're going to march down there and leave voters' messages all over his office down there to let him know that his constituents say no. Stop the killing in Gaza. Lift the blockades," said Hager.

Veterans For Peace and the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition don't have another rally planned, but organizers say as long as the fighting and the killing in Gaza continues, they will continue to publicly voice their concerns.

Sunday there will be pro-Israel events in local synagogues. News4Jax will attend  one of those events.