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8000-plus protest at MN State Capitol in solidarity with Palestine

By Meredith Aby

Massive rally for Palestine at Minnesota State Capitol.  | Fight Back! News/Meredith Aby

St. Paul, MN – On October 18, more than 8000 people demonstrated on the steps of the Minnesota Capitol building to show solidarity with Palestine and to highlight the U.S. role in endorsing and funding the ongoing Israeli war on Palestine.

The protest was organized by American Muslims for Palestine – Minnesota, Students for Justice in Palestine – University of Minnesota , and the Minnesota Anti-War Committee.

International human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Israel’s own B’Tselem, have long charged the Israeli government with violating international law and functioning as an apartheid state.

Last week, Israel established an even more brutal and barbaric blockade of Gaza, cutting the entire population off from essential resources. On Tuesday, Israeli forces bombed the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, killing over 600 people. This strategy of collective punishment was clearly outlined by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who on October 9 stated, “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we will act accordingly.”

At the capitol, speakers addressed how the American public's tax dollars enable the Israeli government's human rights abuses. Since 1949, the U.S. has given over $150 billion in aid to Israel – more than ever sent to any other country. Every year the United States issues $3.8 billion to Israel.

Andrew Josefchak of the MN Anti-War Committee spoke to the crowd and connected the war on Palestine with the state capitol, saying, “Our government’s support for the war on Palestine didn’t start last week. We know that the thousands of bombs being dropped on Gaza right now – including the one Israel dropped on the hospital yesterday – are paid for by our federal tax dollars. But U.S. aid to Israel also comes from our state government right here in Minnesota. Minnesota’s State Board of Investments has invested hundreds of millions of our pension funds into supporting Israel. It has over a million invested in Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest weapons company that advertises its products as ‘field tested’ on Palestinians. It has $55 million invested in Lockheed Martin, which builds the jets currently massacring the people of Gaza. The state of Minnesota recently spent another million to help open a new Lockheed facility right here in Saint Paul.”

U.S. President Joe Biden has announced that he will send billions in additional aid to support Israel in its war on the Palestinian people. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has publicly stated, “Minnesota joins the nation in condemning the horrific acts of violence against Israeli civilians by Hamas,” and, “the United States and Israel are united by a shared commitment to democracy, economic prosperity and regional security.”

Since October 7, Israeli bombing of Gaza has killed over 3000 people and has injured many thousands more. The Israeli government ordered Palestinians to evacuate Gaza but then repeatedly bombed the border checkpoint between Gaza and Egypt, killing civilians and making fleeing the violence impossible. Israel also claimed south Gaza would be a “safe zone” but has continued to drop bombs there.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency stated on October 13, “The call from the Israeli Forces to move more than 1 million civilians living in northern Gaza within 24 hours is horrendous. This will only lead to unprecedented levels of misery and further push people in Gaza into an abyss.”

There have also been reports that Israel is using white phosphorus, an illegal chemical weapon. Israel previously used white phosphorus in the Gaza war in 2008 and 2009.

The capitol protest in Saint Paul followed an emergency action called in response to the hospital bombing on Tuesday, when local Palestinian-Americans blocked the busy Hennepin and Lyndale Avenue intersection in Minneapolis during rush hour. Hundreds of local supporters joined them, shutting down traffic for hours.

Last Sunday, over 15,000 people marched for Palestine through Minneapolis’s Uptown neighborhood. Additional protests for Palestine are being planned.