Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Protests Over Gaza Offensive Spread To Westwood

Last Tuesday, the front of the Israeli Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard was the site of major protest against the latest Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip. Protesters, including students activists, locals and organizations such as CodePink and Jewish Voice For Peace, chanted slogans and read messages from Gaza, and Palestinian flags filled the air.

The gathering was inspired by the latest uptick in Middle East tensions, as the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu intensifies its military assault on Gaza, launching air strikes, missiles, and ground troops, while Hamas militants, considered by the U.S. to be a terrorist organisation, began launching rockets into Israel in July. Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip for the last few years

The most recent attacks from Israel began after three Israeli teenagers were abducted and killed last month in the West Bank. Last week, a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and killed by suspected Jewish extremists, reportedly as a form of revenge, further fuelling the conflict. As of Sunday morning, more than 160 Palestinians were killed in the conflict, the majority of whom were civilians. Meanwhile, Israel's missile defence system, known as the "Iron Dome," has been able to intercept many of the rocket strikes launched by Hamas, and to date no Israeli casualties have been reported.

Sunday's rally in front of Westwood's Federal Building saw pro-Israel expressions, and Palestinian protesters decrying Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip soon appeared. Four men from this group were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon for wielding wooden poles during an altercation with people in another vehicle. According to officials, a federal officer consequently "opened fire harmlessly during the melee."

"Having witnessed the assault involving the people with wooden poles, an officer-involved shooting occurred," said Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau.

Among the 1,800 people supporting the Palestinian cause last Tuesday was renowned analyst and author Ali Abunimah,. "Israel claims it sanctifies life. Well today it killed 8 children in Gaza," he said. When Abunimah crossed the street to casually converse with pro-Israel protesters, someone reported him to the police. Two officers accosted Abunimah and despite his cooperation, he was handcuffed and led away. No injuries have yet been reported at the protests.

Santa Monica College student Mati Cohen was the chief protester against the pro-Palestinian rally last Tuesday and he shared his views on the conflict: "Most people are unaware of what each side is proposing and what each side is opposing," said Cohen while accusing protesters on the other side of supporting terrorism in the form of Hamas. "We are standing for 99% of what the other side is for. We do not support attacking Arabs." Cohen said he would support an Israeli re-conquest of Gaza. "When Israel ruled the Gaza strip the Palestinians there were living better lives, the Israelis were living better lives," he said.

There will undoubtedly be many more protests to come, as the conflict in the middle east continues.


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