Monday, December 29, 2008

Vigil over Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict cast a long shadow over San Francisco early this evening.

Protesters against the Israeli action are holding a vigil outside Senator Dianne Feinstein's office at the junction of Market Street and Montgomery Street.

The vigil is part of a growing protest being organized around the country at the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

It was co-sponsored by Direct Action to Stop the War along with various other groups including the Middle East Children’s Alliance, Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism and SF Women in Black.

Protesters had been asked to wear black, take candles, posters and banners and to expect acts of civil disobedience.

They gathered at 5 pm just as commuters were beginning their journey home and snarled up traffic on Market Street and surrounding streets.

As news helicopters hovered overhead and cameramen from TV stations and newspapers gathered around, a passerby commented that there 'appeared to be more cameramen and police than protesters!'

A copy of a New York Times article from yesterday giving a background to the conflict and headlined 'Israelis Say Strikes Against Hamas Will Continue' was being handed out.

Direct Action to Stop the War in a statement described the missile attacks as a 'brutal and murderous form of collective punishment' and an 'ethnic cleansing of Palestinians'.

They accused Israel of causing 'an unprecedented humanitarian crisis' in Gaza.

'Malnutrition rivals that found in sub-Saharan Africa, as Gazans cannot receive necessary food, fuel and medical supplies. The effects of the siege will greatly impact the hundreds of civilians injured by the missile strike.

'We recognize that the US Government is complicit in these crimes against the people of Palestine. We call on the US government to end its support of the Israeli occupation, to stop the billions of dollars in military aid sent to Israeli, and to end Israel’s criminal raids and siege on the people of Gaza. We gather outside Senator Feinstein’s office to send this message. We stand in solidarity and sympathy with the innocent civilians being bombed in Gaza.'

Other groups supporting the action are Break the Silence Mural Project, Global Exchange, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper, Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, Jewish Voice for Peace - Bay Area, and American Friends Service Committee SF Office.

Tomorrow the A.N.S.W.E.R. - Act Now to Stop War and End Racism - Coalition are organizing a protest outside the Israeli Consulate at 456 Montgomery Street, again at 5 pm, as part of what they are calling a National Day of Action.

They are supported by the Muslim American Society Freedom, Free Palestine Alliance, National Council of Arab Americans and Al-Awda, International Palestine Right to Return Coalition.

According to Kron4 News this morning, Israeli supporters later joined the protest to add their voice.

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