JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of people protested to free Palestine in Jacksonville on Saturday night.
They’re responding to the attacks overseas in recent days, believing Americans need to educate themselves on what is happening and to start holding our elected officials accountable for the role they play in the attacks.
They found a way to celebrate, dancing and clapping after protesting for a free Palestine.
A fight dating back centuries in Israel is touching home for the community in Jacksonville.
“I did witness, and I lived what my friends and family are living overseas right now,” said Siamara Tannous, who is from Palestine. “So I’m very aware and I’m very heartbroken of what is going on between both sides.”
Reports say a police raid on a mosque in Jerusalem back in April sparked a war between Israel a militant group, Hamas, who rules the Gaza strip.
“Israel has responded forcefully to these attacks and we will continue to respond forcefully until the security of our people is reinstated and restored,” said Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel.
The tension between Palestine and Israel is deep, but some call the recent violence the worst in years.
Sara Tayiba, with the Jacksonville Palestine solidarity network, told protesters on Saturday her home state of Palestine is acting in self-defense.
“It’s really important to understand that Palestinians have been articulating our struggle as one against settler colonialism for centuries,” Tayiba said. “For as long as we have been resisting Zionism, we have been articulating it as a just struggle against settler colonialism.”
One person says he believes the United States plays a role in the violence. In the past, the United States has provided foreign aid to Israel.
“The funding is just unbelievable,” said Samir Saman. “I mean you’re talking about millions and millions of dollars of American taxpayers dollars that literally pay for bombs that destroy buildings on top of the heads of people that we know personally.”
More than 100 people have died, buildings have been destroyed, and many people displaced.
“This is stolen land and we should have the right to fight back and do whatever we can to get our land back,” said Rahaf Salameh said.
But for the sake of the children, protesters say they pray the violence stops.
“We want to live in peace with Israel,” said Hafez Assali, a protestor. “We are not living side-by-side with the state of Israel, but we want Israel to recognize us as people, as humans, and his people who deserve life as they do.”
The organization over this protest wants to encourage everyone to have conversations about what’s happening in Israel.
“We need the direct attention of the American people in the American government to just feel what the Palestinians feel,” Assali said. “Don’t take any sides. Just work towards justice for the Palestinian people as you are working for the justice for the Israeli people.”