COLUMBIA — More than 200 people gathered on Friday afternoon at the Islamic Center of Central Missouri to call for an end to Israel’s military attacks in Gaza.
Those who attended the rally headed to the intersection of Providence Road and Broadway, where they stopped for a 10-minute demonstration. Then they proceeded to the post office, shouting “support justice, support peace” along the way.
The “Let Gaza Live” peace march was co-sponsored by the Islamic Center; Boone Tikkun, a Jewish and interfaith group; the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation; and Mid-Missouri Peaceworks.
Lyman Harb, 41, joined in the march with his son, Yusaf Harb, 8. Harb came to the United States 18 years ago from Palestine looking for a more peaceful country.
“I want to show my son what is over there in Palestine, and I have to show him we need a peace.”
Harb said some of his family members are still back there. “We don’t need the war, we need to keep peace to save the country and kids.”
The participants observed a moment of silence to acknowledge the more than 400 people who have died and others who have been wounded in Gaza since Israel began launching the aerial campaign Saturday. The military action is a bid to halt weeks of intensifying Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza, according to the Associated Press. It has dealt a heavy blow to Hamas, but has failed to halt the rockets. New attacks on Friday struck apartment buildings in a southern Israeli city, but the AP said no serious injuries were reported.
At the Columbia march, Jeff Stack of the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation circulated a petition that urges elected officials to halt unconditional military assistance to the Israeli government that comes at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.
“We want the government to show leadership,” Stack said.
Stefani Engelstein of Boone Tikkun also spoke. “The Israeli attack on Gaza is immoral and should be against international law.”
“Our government needs to put pressure on Israel,” Engelstein added.
Once the demonstration was over, the marchers headed to the offices of U.S. Sens. Kit Bond, R-Mo., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., to deliver the petitions.
Mark Haim of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks joined the march, saying he hopes such demonstrations will help stop the “massive killing” someday.
Organizers of the march said in news release before the event that they agree with the sentiments of Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Society.
“We cannot remain silent while the Palestinian people continue to suffer from these abominable acts, and we call upon all Americans of good will and conscience to join us in calling for a cease fire on both sides, an end to the Gaza embargo, and to ‘Let Gaza Live,” Bray said in the release.