Pro-Palestinian rallygoers in Dallas renew calls for ceasefire, end to Israeli occupation

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North Texans called for a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories at a rally outside Dallas City Hall Sunday.

Despite gloomy skies and drizzling rain, a crowd amassed in downtown Dallas holding signs and waving flags, calling for Palestinian freedom. Representatives from the Dallas Palestine Coalition, the Indian American Muslim Council, the Dallas Anti-War Committee and other local activism groups spoke to rally attendees.

It’s been about six weeks since the Gaza-based militant group Hamas launched an attack on Israel that killed around 1,200 people, according to an updated count from Israeli officials, taking hundreds hostage.

But Dallas resident Onas Isa said some fail to realize the conflict between Israel and Palestinians began long before Oct. 7.

“We need to see things in context,” Isa said. “We can’t look at one side of it and ignore the context, the root cause, which is the occupation, the Israeli occupation that has been going on for 75 years, and the brutal apartheid system needs to be exposed for what it is.”

Isa, 57, is Palestinian but said he grew up in a refugee camp in Syria. He said he sees a future of coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians, but only with equal rights under a democracy.

Isa said after decades of dehumanization, Palestinians want independence more than anything.

“No matter where you are, at the end, you want to be independent,” Isa said. “You want to have your own home, a place you call home, you know. And we have a home, which is Palestine.”

A prayer, a parade of cars

Sunday’s rally also featured a collective janazah prayer, or a Muslim funeral prayer, and a car rally. Passengers chanted and hung flags out of sunroofs as cars filed down the Dallas roads.

Data compiled by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs show approximately 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict as of Nov. 10, with tens of thousands more injured along with Israelis.

There have been worldwide calls for a ceasefire in the conflict, including from Biden administration officials, with hopes of putting an end to the growing number of casualties. But the president wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post Saturday that a ceasefire “is not peace.”

Dallas resident Susmita, who felt uncomfortable sharing her last name, said she disagrees.

“A ceasefire today would just, like, save any of the victims that would happen to get bombed tomorrow,” she said. “Like, I don’t support just civilians dying in this conflict at all.”

Susmita, 24, said she’s felt heartbroken learning about the war on the news and social media, but she said making her voice heard at protests in Dallas helps her feel a sense of community.

Susmita said she takes the conflict more personally knowing her father survived the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

“He did survive a genocide before, having to just flee to India,” she said. “And I can see the way that it’s affecting him and, yeah, just all this is just very close to my heart.”

Sunday’s protest was the latest of several across North Texas and the country since the Oct. 7 attacks, both in support of Israel and Palestinians. An empty Shabbat dinner table was set out by a Jewish group at Southern Methodist University from Thursday to Sunday, set for the 239 hostages still held by Hamas.

Last week, Jewish leaders from North Texas traveled to Washington, D.C., for a march supporting Israel and condemning antisemitism. Earlier this month, thousands gathered in D.C. in support of Palestinians.

Waqas Chishti of Frisco is Pakistani, not Palestinian, but said he needs to stand up to what he called injustice.

Chishti said he sees no end to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict until world leaders, especially in the United States, agree to peace. Until then, he said, Palestinians will continue to resist Israeli occupation.

“This has been going on for over many decades,” Chishti said. “So, we need to stop this heinous crime of killing innocent people. We need to find a solution for both Israel and for Palestinian people. There should be peaceful coexistence.”

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