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Minnesota protests Israel’s attack on Rafah

By Meredith Aby

Saint Paul, Minnesota protest against Israeli attack on Rafah.  | Fight Back! News/Sabry Wazwaz

St. Paul, MN – On February 18, 1000 protesters marched in Saint Paul’s upscale Summit Hill neighborhood to protest Israel’s assault on the city of Rafah, the last zone of relative safety for Palestinians in Gaza.

The action was organized by the Free Palestine Coalition which comprises dozens of Twin Cities progressive and solidarity organizations.

Around 1.4 million Palestinians, over half of the Gazan population, are estimated to have been displaced to the enclave’s southernmost city of Rafah, after Israel declared it a “safe zone” early in its invasion of Gaza. Most are living in tents and overcrowded shelters in what health organizations have repeatedly characterized as a humanitarian catastrophe.

On February 10, Israel carried out airstrikes and raids in Rafah that left dozens of civilians dead. The attacks followed the declaration by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a ground invasion of Rafah would go ahead. The United Nations has stated that such an invasion would amount to a “disaster beyond imagination.”

Lina Jebara, a member of the MN Anti-War Committee, participated in the protest, and felt moved to come out, “Even if the state of Minnesota was not investing hundreds of millions of dollars into entities that have been profiting off of Israel’s genocidal campaign, our politicians and our news cycles that have continued to make excuses for the slaughtering of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians, even after ‘following the rules’ and ‘heeding the warnings’ of their colonizers, Palestinians are still being executed en masse in their only remaining ‘safe’ zone. While the ongoing genocide is kept afloat with the help of our local resources, we have an obligation to stand up and fight for Palestinian lives.”

The Free Palestine Coalition has been campaigning for the Saint Paul city council to pass a ceasefire resolution, following the passage of resolutions in Minneapolis and Hastings, and progress towards one in Columbia Heights.

Dr. Sima Shakhsari, a Saint Paul resident and founder of Faculty, Librarians, Alumni, Graduate Students, & Staff for Justice in Palestine (FLAGS-JP) at the University of Minnesota, was the closing speaker at the march, stating, “And to those who are not bothered by this genocide, even when we bring it home and say ‘imagine if this was happening in your town,’ to those council members who say this is not a local issue, this is what I have to say to you: I am a Saint Paul resident. Hear me out! It can’t be any more local when several homeless shelters in Saint Paul have been closed in the last couple of years and when Saint Paul has the highest poverty rate in Minnesota, but our tax money is going to support this genocide.”

The Free Palestine Coalition is planning on packing the Saint Paul City Council meeting again on February 21.

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