Fayette County

Lexington rally calls on Israel to stop bombing Palestinian civilians in Gaza

Protest between Palestine and Israel on Friday August 1, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Protest between Palestine and Israel on Friday August 1, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

More than 50 people protested Israel's bombing of Gaza during a downtown Lexington demonstration late Friday afternoon, "Two, four, six, eight, stop the killing! Stop the hate!" they chanted.

"Honk for peace" one sign read, and several motorists did just that.

Ismael Shalash, 32, of Lexington, who is of Palestinian heritage, said, "We feel it is our job as a community to come together here, to unify together."

He added: "Israel can say all they would like, but the truth is civilians are dying. Ninety percent of the deaths are civilians. There is no where they can go. They leave their house, they're being bombed. They stay in their house, they're being bombed. What are they supposed to? The only solution is to stop the bombing. Let us live in peace."

United Nations High Commissioner Navi Pillay has accused both Israel and Hamas of violating the rules of war. She accused Hamas of violating humanitarian law by locating rockets in schools and hospitals, and Israel for attacking civilian areas of Gaza.

But Irshad Gilani, 51, of Lexington said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be held accountable for shelling a United Nations school that killed Palestinians who sought shelter from the fighting,

"Innocent civilians died in that attack," Gilani said. "To me, it is a war crime. Netanyahu is a war criminal. He is killing children."

Israel blames Hamas for starting the latest battle with rockets fired into Israel from Gaza. In addition, Hamas is said to have underground tunnels between Gaza and Israel that allow Hamas to attack Israel.

Bassam Imad, 37, of Lexington, who was born in Gaza, said he is saddened by the images he sees on television. Yhe Palestinian people have long been mistreated, he said.

"We've been treated like lab rats," Imad said. "Checkpoints, You get kicked on the way to school. You're spit on on the way back home. Curfews. I mean, I lived this from '87 to '94. You have to live there to understand what is happening."

The "Honk for Peace" sign was held by Hoda Shalash, 21, of Lexington. She hopes Lexingtonians would learn more about the conflict and speak out.

"My favorite saying is, 'One person turns into one voice turns into one dream.' I don't want any more children dying," she said. "I want people to experience what I experience every day: Being able to get out of my house and know that I'll be safe walking to my mailbox without getting shot."

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