UNIVERSITY CITY , MO. (KTVI) – After eight days of violence between Israel and Gaza, a cease-fire has now been declared, with the help of the U.S. and Egypt.
But the new, tentative peace didn’t stop pro-Palestine protesters from filling the streets of University City Wednesday night.
Roughly one hundred protesters marched along Delmar Boulevard. Their message was clear, although both sides admit the issue is complex.
“Even though the cease-fire has taken place, the occupation continues of Palestinian land,” says Banan Ead, member of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee.
Ead adds, “This is not a battle between two equal forces. This is definitely the oppressed, and the oppressor, and the Palestinians are the oppressed people. They’ve been under occupation since 1967.”
When Israeli native Daniel Iken heard about the protest, he decided to show up to represent his side. “They’re not portraying the facts correctly. They’re putting a very extreme bias on it,” he says. “That side can’t understand that Israel is here to stay, Israel will exist, and to try to wish it away will not happen.”
But not all Jews agree with Iken. Some Jewish-Americans stand by the Palestinians in this protest, and in general.
Protester Arielle Klagsbrun, a member of St. Louis Jewish Voice for Peace, explains, “Often the things that Israel does, they say they do it for the Jewish people. And I’m here to say, particularly as a young Jewish American, that the things that are being done in Israel are not being done in my name and I disagree with how Israel is treating the Palestinian people.”
At this point, both sides express doubt that the cease-fire will hold, but for both, the continued violence just hits too close to home.
Eads explains, “One of the women here is extremely emotional because she’s from Gaza, and she’s had, her family and her friends fearful for their lives, the last week, two weeks, years, really.”
Iken adds, “I want peace. It’s sad for me that I have a lot of friends in Israel that might unfortunately have to go into Gaza, and I don’t want to see that.”
The protesters also support a boycott of products, like the popular SodaStream, made in Israeli settlements in Palestine. Another big issue, they say, is the American taxpayer dollars that go to support Israel.