About 500 people rallied downtown July 20 to show support for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, where more than 400 civilians have been killed over the past few weeks in clashes between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The protesters massed at Fountain Square before marching around downtown for about three hours. Local attendees said their rally was about highlighting Palestinian civilians’ human rights. Israel launched a ground offensive Sunday in Gaza in response to rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas.
Israeli leaders say the incursion into Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, is necessary to root out militants who are staging the rocket attacks.
They say they’re not trying to hurt civilians and that Palestinian militants are putting them in harm’s way.
But some witnesses claim that the Israeli army is targeting ambulances and other civilian vehicles as it carries out its offensive, which was preceded by Israeli airstrikes in the region. In addition to the hundreds killed in Gaza, more than 3,000 Palestinians have been wounded by the fighting, and many more have been forced to flee their homes.Twenty Israeli soldiers, including two with American citizenship, have also been killed. Israel has received censure from the international community for using military force in Gaza. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon criticized Israel’s actions and said the country must do more to ensure that civilians aren’t killed or injured.