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Residents protest Israeli air strikes

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Salina Khan protests the bombing over the Gaza Strip during a Nov. 15, 2012, rally on the corner of West Main and Walnut streets in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (TMP Photo/M. Kemph)

During a rally Thursday near downtown Murfreesboro, protesters called on the United States to stop providing aid to Israel in light of the recent air strikes over the Gaza Strip.

“I oppose the U.S. supporting Israel as it massacres Palestinians,” said Salina Khan, a Murfreesboro resident. “Ten percent of the people who live in Gaza are Christian. If not for humane reasons, Americans should still care because Christians are also being killed.”

According to the Congressional Research Service, the federal government has provided more than $3 billion in aid to Israel this year, due in large part because the U.S. considers it an extremely important ally in the Middle East.

The protest comes on the heels of a stepped up Israeli offensive that began Wednesday in response to attacks from Palestinian militants associated with Hamas, which the U.S. has classified as a terrorist organization.

Operation Pillar of Defense, the largest military campaign Israel has conducted in nearly four years, started with the targeted killing of a top Hamas commander, Ahmed Jaabari, in response to militant attacks.

As head of the Hamas military, Jaabari is believed to have been the force behind several attacks against Israel in recent years. His death comes as a serious blow to the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip.

For decades, Hamas has fought for the formation of a Palestinian state that would be recognized as a legitimate country by the United Nations. As part of those efforts, Hamas has long argued that Israel illegally occupies land belonging to the Palestinian territories, which includes the Gaza Strip.

The protesters gathered outside of the Murfreesboro office of U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who has not publicly commented on the conflict, in an effort to bring attention to what they believe has been an unwarranted assault on Palestinians.

“We are protesting because Israeli strikes have killed innocent people and a leader who was considered a moderate, not a militant,” said Jase Short, a recent Middle Tennessee State University graduate. “There are people of all faiths and backgrounds participating today because the violence needs to stop.”

President Barack Obama said Thursday the U.S. supports the right of Israel to defend itself in light of the barrage of rocket attacks being launched from Gaza against Israeli citizens, according to a White House press release.

In a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, he urged the Israeli government to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties.

Since Jaabari’s death, violence has quickly escalated in Gaza, which is home to more than 1.6 million Palestinians. Seven Palestinians and three Israelis have already been killed – a growing number of casualties that Afnan Ahmae said she hopes will not rise as the conflict continues.

“I am here in support of Palestine, for my country,” said Ahmae, who is an American citizen of Palestinian descent. “My family is from there, so I came to show support for my fellow Palestinians who are suffering.”

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Barack Obama, Congress, Diane Black, Gaza Strip, Hamas, ICM, Islam, Israel, Murfreesboro, Politics, Solidarity, United Nations, War
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Members Opinions:
November 16, 2012 at 8:11am
Salina Khan thinks that the indiscriminate killing of people in Israel regardless of their ethnicity by the terrorist group Hamas is OK and should be ignored. Why anyone would want to be affiliated with this immature screwball is beyond me. She should remember that it is the "Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" mentality rooted in the religion of "her people" that is keeps the flame of hatred burning. What a loser!
November 16, 2012 at 12:20pm
I agree with the United States providing funds and support to Israel during this conflict between Israel and Gaza. Israel has every right to defend itself against the malicious attacks of a terrorist organization.
In response to the protestors in Murfreesboro who argue that Israel should cease-fire and stop the violence, and that the United States is foolish for aiding Israel, I have to say, Israel did not start the violence. Israel has been suffering attacks from the Hamas military for years. Why would anyone expect Israel to sit back and continue being bombarded? Even the most peaceful nations can only withstand so much. Israeli leaders have a certain duty to their people. They have to be protected.
I understand the upset over the death of Ahmed Jaabari, and while I disagree with the statement that he was a moderate, not a militant, I do see why many people would be so devastated. However, if Jaabari was the militant leader of Hamas as he is believed to be, Israel’s obvious first defense would be to stop him.
I also strongly disagree with the statement from Jase Short concerning Israel’s attacks killing innocent people. I do agree that no innocent person or civilian should ever lose his or her life, but I do not understand how someone can make that statement and not also see Gaza in the same light. Innocent people are dying on either side. Violence is not only being created by Israel.
November 19, 2012 at 8:42am
You do realize that Gaza is the world's largest prison camp, don't you? Israel has blockaded it for years and not allowed access in or out. They stole their land, set up a apartheid-based theocracy, destroyed their homes and livelihoods, killed innocent women and children--and yet you wonder why some Palestinians are radicalized?
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