People show support for Palestine at vigil in Cedar Rapids

People attend a candlelight vigil in support of Palestine on Sunday, May 16, in Cedar Rapids.
People attend a candlelight vigil in support of Palestine on Sunday, May 16, in Cedar Rapids.(Rebecca Varilek/KCRG)
Updated: May. 16, 2021 at 11:19 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Dozens of people gathered along the 1st Avenue Bridge in downtown Cedar Rapids on Sunday night to express their support for the people of Palestine.

Most people held signs with messages like, “Stand up for Palestine,” and multiple speakers called for their fellow Iowans to join them, with one saying, “You don’t need to be a Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian to stand up for Palestine. You just need to be human.”

Ahmed Elkhaldy, the president of the Muslim American Society’s Iowa chapter, said the state of Israel needs to be accountable for casualties on both sides and called for the U.S. government to play a role in holding them responsible.

“The administration had a great responsibility — moral, ethical, logical responsibility — toward first, the people of the United States of America, and toward the world as the superpower country, and most importantly, as the people of conscience, to stop this massacre in Gaza and the massacre and the ethnic cleansing in Palestine,” Elkhaldy said.

Conflict between Israelis and Palestinians boiled over this week, escalating rapidly into one of the worst rounds of violence between the two sides in the last several years.

The latest string of incidents stemmed from airstrikes launched by Israel in Gaza.

Israeli officials said this was in response to Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers firing a barrage of rockets toward Jerusalem.

Rabbi Yossi Jacobson of Lubavitch of Iowa’s Judaic Resource Center in Des Moines called Hamas a terrorist organization and said the group is to blame for the violence and deaths.

Jacobson argued Israel is defending and protecting itself, but he added that no one is happy about the conflict.

“No one in Israel is dancing, seeing innocent Palestinian blood being killed in this war,” he said. “But this is not a war that Israel started. This is a war that Hamas started, and this is the greatest hypocrisy, that they are the cause. They are the cause of all the casualties.”

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