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Dallas vigil for Gaza healthcare workers

By Josh Rudd

A line of people wearing lab coats hold signs with the names of medical professionals martyred in Gaza. One person holds a human-sized shroud wrapped in white cloth.

Dallas, TX – Approximately 150 people, mostly healthcare workers, gathered outside the Parkland Hospital in Dallas the evening of December 1 for a candlelight vigil in honor of healthcare workers who have been killed in the U.S.-backed Israeli genocide in Gaza.

The vigil, organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement and the Dallas Palestine Coalition, included speeches by healthcare workers and community organizers while onlookers held signs reading “Glory to our martyrs” followed by a reading of the names and professions of some of the hundreds of healthcare workers who died in the current genocide, including “Tariq Abu Obaid, nurse,” “Dr. Tamer Al-Khayyat, physician,” “Taiseer Alghouti, lab technician” and “Marwan Abou Raida, paramedic.”

Before the vigil began, healthcare workers and community members lined up holding candles and displaying the signs with names of some of those who have died in the U.S.-backed Israeli bombardment of Gaza, including “Shaimaa Sbaih, physical therapist,” “Omar Khorsheed, optometrist” and “Mohammed Al-Moqayyed, nurse.”

Two people held a human-sized shroud of wrapped white cloth covered in red paint stains, reminiscent of the images of bloody body bags held by their loved ones in Gaza. Organizers then held a call to prayer in remembrance before speeches given by healthcare workers, the Palestinian Youth Movement, the Muslim Coalition for Palestine, and the Indian American Muslim Council.

Dr. Bilal Piracha, assistant professor of emergency medicine, was one of the first to speak, condemning the 70 hospitals that have been “demolished” and almost 15,000 people killed. He then read out the last poem written by author Hiba Abu Nada shortly before being killed on October 20 by an Israeli missile: “Gaza’s night is dark apart from the glow of rockets, quiet apart from the sound of the bombs, terrifying apart from the comfort of prayer, black apart from the light of the martyrs. Good night, Gaza.” He concluded his speech with “We request, we ask, we demand, stop the war now. Restrictions be lifted, borders be opened, let’s be human!”

Mohammed Ayachi, with the Muslim Coalition for Palestine, spoke about the complicity of the United States in backing the Israeli genocide in Gaza, saying, “Our politicians took the ‘hypocritic’ oath, they’re taking our resources and sending them to other countries to bomb children.” Ayachi then called out the lack of funding for healthcare in the U.S. while “every bomb dropped by Israel is at least $7000.” While he spoke, healthcare workers stood around him holding more signs of the names of the deceased, including “Dr. Hamam El- Deeb, physician,” “Abdulrahman Shaheen, nurse” and “Dr. Mohammed Al-Samarai, physician. 

The final speaker, Niveen Abdelwahed, a healthcare social worker and a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement, began by reading out the names of some of the physicians who have been killed in the current genocide in Gaza. After each name, the crowd chanted “Not just a number!” Some of the names included “Dr. Mahmoud Al-Khayyat, physician,” “Dr. Medhat Saidam, physician,” “Dr. Amal Al-Maqadma, physician.”

In her speech, Abdelwahed called out the fact that more Palestinians have now lost their homes and their lives than during the Nakba, or Catastrophe, when Palestinians were forcibly removed from their land in a massive genocide and ethnic cleansing campaign to establish the state of Israel in 1948. “This genocide is being aided and abetted by the United States government. We demand that the U.S. do the right thing and facilitate a full ceasefire now!” said Abdelwahed.

After the vigil, some attendees remained and chanted slogans such as “Free Palestine,” “Biden, Biden, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” A few attendees wearing scrubs arranged a small display of tea candles and signs of a few of the nurses who had died, including “Hanya Qudaih, nurse,” “Ali Nasrallah, nurse” and “Amira Al-Reqeb, nurse.”

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