Hundreds of people gathered on the steps of the Minnesota Capitol to demand elected officials call for a ceasefire in the ongoing Gaza-Israel conflict.
The conflict has already claimed the lives of 4,200 Palestinians as Israel continues an air offensive that has leveled city blocks. The protest is the latest call to stop the violence in the region.
“If Israel deserves a moment of silence, then us Palestinians deserve never to speak again,” MaMaysoon Wazwaz, a Palestinian-American organizer, said.
Wazwaz said that the United States is funding a genocide, and that the US is providing aid to a “military regime that is choking a population that is mostly composed of children.” The median age in Gaza is 18 years old.
Jaylani Hussein, the Executive Director of the Council of Islamic-American Relations Minnesota, said his organization had emailed every state senator and representative to join calls for a ceasefire. He said many replied that they will not call for a ceasefire.
Hussein said that the U.S. actions in the region are a repeat of history, and an act of hypocrisy as the U.S. supports what he says are war crimes. Experts at the United Nations have condemned the Israeli strikes on civilian targets as war crimes as well.
“A country decided that they're going to do a collective punishing of every member of the Palestinian community in Gaza, 2.2 million people right now,” CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said. “And they began by saying, we're not going to give you water. We're not going to give you food. We're not going to give you electricity. And they said you can't even leave.”
That “collective punishment” came after Hamas, a jihadist terror organization based out of Gaza, attacked Southern Israel, killing 1,300 people as the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot ended. Israeli military forensics teams said that the bodies of the victims showed evidence of rape, torture, and mutilation. Hundreds of people were taken back to Gaza as hostages, and Hamas has released videos of them getting medical care for the injuries they received while being abducted. UN and Israeli officials have said that the abduction of civilians, and using them as shields to prevent more shelling on Gaza is a war crime. Hamas said Wednesday that it will release all civilian hostages if the bombing stops.
After the Oct. 7 attack, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz ordered flags to be hung at half-staff in support of Israel, and said the state is set “standing with Minnesota’s Jewish and Israeli communities.” A former St. Paul Hebrew teacher was killed in Israel on Oct. 7, along with his brother-in-law, while his nephew and another brother-in-law are still missing.
Walz’s support of Israel is in line with the majority of Democrat Party membership. Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum wrote in a statement that “The U.S. government and the international community must immediately unite in denouncing the escalating violence in Israel and Gaza, and demand the immediate release of all hostages.”