Supporters of Palestine call for an end to the violence

Posted: November 15, 2012 in I love L.A.
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Approximately 200 demonstrators in support of Palestine lined the south side of Wilshire Blvd. to protest the recent escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas. Photo Credit: Kat Russell / Multimedia Editor @ Daily Sundial

>>> UPDATE, Nov. 21

Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt on Wednesday. Israel agreed to a truce but refused to lift the blockade on Palestinian territory.

In the eight days of fighting that began Nov. 14, more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed.

In spite of the agreement, violence still raged on Wednesday.

A bus bomb exploded near the Israel’s Defense Ministry and military headquarters in Tel Aviv wounding 15 people.

Israel struck more than 100 targets in Gaza, including a cluster of Hamas government buildings, killing 10 people one of which was a 2-year-old boy.

Gaza continued to fire rockets at Tel Aviv, none of which reached the city.

>>> UPDATE, Nov. 20

Israel and Hamas came closer to a ceasefire, however a deal still remained uncertain and fighting continued to rage on both sides of the border.

Israeli tanks and gunboats struck targets in Gaza while at least 200 rockets were fired into Israel.

Ceasefire proceedings are being held in Cairo and have involved the U.S. Secretary of State, the U.N. chief and Egypt’s president in addition to representatives of both Hamas an the Israeli government.

Israel has demanded an end to rocket fire from Gaza and a stop to weapons smuggling into Gaza through the tunnels connecting to Egypt. Israel also wants guarantees that Hamas will not rearm or use Egypt’s Sinai region to attack Israelis.

Hamas has demanded that Israel halt all attacks on Gaza and lift tight restrictions on trade and movement in and out of the territory that have been in place since Hamas came into power in 2007.

An estimated 130 Palestinians, many of which were civilians, have been killed and hundreds wounded since the conflict’s start on Nov. 14 and five Israelis have been killed by rocket fire.

>>> UPADATE, Nov. 19

The latest casualty figures out of Gaza reported 22 people killed since midnight, Sunday Nov. 18. Included in the report were Palestinians killed in air strikes by warplanes, a drone attack on two men riding a motorcycle and a father his two toddler-aged sons in their bombed home in northern Gaza. Another Israeli drone attack killed a taxi driver hired by journalists and displaying “press” signs.

Three people have been killed in Israel so far, all of which were civilians, in a rocket attack that hit an apartment house in southern Israel on Nov. 15. The Israelis said that at least 79 people have been wounded since the violence began.

Hamas leader dared Israel to launch a ground invasion of Gaza and dismissed efforts to broker a ceasefire.

Israel conducted a new wave of airstrikes, including a second hit on a 15-story building that housed media outlets.

Gaza fired multiple rockets into southern Israel one of which hit a vacant school. Diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are underway in Cairo where Khaled Meshal, leader of Hamas, called the Israeli infantry mobilization on the border of Gaza a bluff on the part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

>>> UPDATE, Nov. 18

An Israeli airstrike struck two media buildings in Gaza injuring eight journalists, with one needing a leg amputated. The airstrike also damaged the Al Sharouk building in which several foreign journalists have been staying.

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) had admitted to targeting the media building that housed offices for international media in Gaza and confirmed having knowledge that foreign journalists were in at least one of the media buildings struck. However, Israel denied targeting journalists saying that the second attack on the Al Sharouk building had targeted an office of the Islamic Jihad

An Israeli bomb killed eleven people, including three generations of a single family, making it the deadliest single strike since the conflict began. The incident sparked a rally in Gaza on Monday in support of Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers.

Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel. Injuries have been reported in the towns of Ashkelon and Ofakim.

Both Israeli and Hamas officials said attempts to reach a ceasefire are ongoing.

>>> UPDATE, Nov. 16

Israel conducted five airstrikes on Gaza City before dawn on Nov. 16, destroying the offices of Ismail Haniya, the prime minister of Hamas. The airstrike also hit the main police complex nearby.

At the same time, a heavy Israeli bombardment was reported at the south end of the Gaza Strip, which targeted the smuggling tunnels leading into Egypt.

Israel confirmed the attacks, saying that it had also targeted the Hamas Ministry of Interior – a training facility – a site believed house weapons stores and launching sites.

According to Israel, the bombardments were retaliation for Palestinian rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

No deaths have been yet reported.

>>> UPDATE, Nov. 15

Palestinian militants fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for the first time, pushing Israel closer to a possible ground invasion. Hamas said in a statement that the rockets were meant to hit the Israeli Parliament.

One of the rockets landed in an open space, south of Jerusalem, near and Israeli settlement. It was unclear where the other rockets landed. No damage or injuries were reported.

Hamas said in a statement that the rockets were meant to hit the Israeli Parliament.

The Israeli government has more than doubled its number of reservists, preparing them for possible invasion if needed.  The Israeli military has also closed roads, running adjacent to Gaza, in anticipation of a possible ground incursion into Gaza. This would be the first Israeli military maneuver on the ground in Gaza since the 2008-9 invasion.

>>> UPDATED with additional information

As the violence between Israel and Hamas escalated to the worst conflict seen between the two sides in recent years, demonstrators sympathetic to both sides gathered in protest outside the Israeli consulate in West LA. on Nov. 15.

An estimated 200 people sympathetic to the Palestinian cause carried signs depicting graphic images of mangled bodies and wounded children and chanted slogans calling for Israel to put an end to its occupation of the Gaza Strip and the oppression of the Palestinian people.

“Once again, the state of Israel has decided to massacre the Palestinian people in an indiscriminate way and we, as a community, cannot just sit here,” said Taher Herzallah the campus coordinator for American Muslims for Palestine.

At the same time, approximately 20 demonstrators sympathetic to Israel gathered on the opposite side of the street, waving Israeli flags and calling out in response to the pro-Palestinian slogans.

“(This is a) protest against the killing of terrorists (Hamas military leader, Ahmed Jibari) and to condemn a country (Israel) for defending its citizens who live under rocket fire on a daily basis,” said Israel supporter, Moshe Arnold. He went on to say that “whenever there’s evil, someone has to respond with truth and goodness and that’s why we are here tonight.”

The protest was arranged through a series of emails sent out the night before, by Answer Coalition, an umbrella group consisting of numerous antiwar and civil rights organizations.

“Anytime there’s a war going on that’s unjust, we (members of Answer Coalition) come out to protest” said Michael Kakes, a member of the Part for Socialism and Liberation, which is part of the Answer Coalition network.

Although the demonstrations remained peaceful, the crowds were heated and shouted angry words across the street at each other.

Approximately 40 LAPD officers lined both sides of Wilshire to contain the demonstrators on their own sides of the street. Andrew Smith, LAPD’s Commanding Officer of Media Relations, said that in situations involving two opposing sides, the LAPD aims to keep each side from antagonizing the other while allowing both sides ample space to exercise their rights to free speech.

The recent violence between Hamas and Israel was renewed on Nov. 14 when Israel assassinated Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas military operations. According to Israel, the strike was retaliation for increased rocket attacks from Gaza.  Israel called the action a tactical operation carried out in response to an increase in rocket attacks, from Hamas, on Southern Israel.

Since the conflict’s onset, Israel and Hamas bombarded each other with more than 1,500 rockets killing 161 Palestinians, 71 of which were civilians, and 5 Israelis. Authorities have referred to the conflict as the worst violence Israel and Palestine have since Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2008.

>>> Audio slideshow from the protest:

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