COLUMBIA — A procession left the Islamic Center of Central Missouri at 1:45 p.m. Friday and walked down Locust Street bearing signs that read "Stop the Bombs" and "War is NOT the ANSWER!"
Cars honked at the procession as they drove by. In response, Jeff Frey, who was carrying a green flag that bore a peace sign, held his index and middle finger in the air, the international symbol for peace.
"I want to help stop the violence among our fellow human beings," Frey said.
The procession, which included about 30 people, was made up of members of Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation. By marching to the downtown Columbia offices of both Missouri senators, the group said, it hoped to urge elected officials to call upon Israel to stop its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
"We want to raise our voice for millions of people around the planet who are offended by the ongoing apartheid the Palestinian people are suffering," said Jeff Stack, the organization's chapter president.
The procession first made its way to the offices of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., at 28 N. 8th St. and then to the offices of Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., at 1001 Cherry St. The senators weren't there, but the protesters were greeted by representatives from each office, who listened to the residents' concerns and took notes while promising to pass them along to the senators.
There is no end in sight to Israel's effort to halt militant rocket fire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an Associated Press article Friday.
"I will end it when our goals are realized," he said. "And the overriding goal is to restore the peace and quiet."
Israel says it launched the offensive Tuesday in response to weeks of rocket fire from Gaza. At least 21 Palestinians were killed Friday, pushing the overall death toll to 106, including dozens of civilians, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.
Palestinian militants have fired more than 600 rockets at Israel.
One rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck a gas station and set it ablaze earlier Friday in southern Israel, wounding three people, one seriously, and the army said the condition of a soldier wounded by rocket shrapnel on Thursday had worsened. But there have been no deaths on the Israeli side, in large part because of a new rocket-defense system that has intercepted at least 129 incoming projectiles.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Supervising editor is Samuel Hardiman.