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Protests continue against Israeli violence

By Robin Shulman Special to the Daily Planet
Saturday October 07, 2000

Hatem Bazian, an Islamic studies and Arabic teacher at UC Berkeley, lost his 14–year–old cousin to Israeli bullets last week. 

The boy was shot dead by Israeli soldiers during the clashes that have wracked Israel and the Palestinian territories for nine straight days, killing 76 Palestinians and wounding over 2,000 others. Some three Israelis have also died. 

Yesterday, Bazian led some 3,500 people in prayer and protest in San Francisco. The demonstration was one of dozens in North America, Europe, and the Arab and Muslim world, to protest Israel’s storming Al–Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. 

Friday’s demonstration was the fourth in the Bay Area this week, following protests in San Francisco, Berkeley and Sacramento. It began with prayer outside City Hall and ended with a rally outside the Israeli Consulate. 

“We will persevere and we will resist – because it is human to resist,” Bazian told the audience on the lawn at City Hall. 

“The tanks that move and rumble on the West Bank and Gaza Strip are made and paid for by the American taxpayer.” 

Men and women sat separately on tarps laid on the grass. Two children stood behind Bazian waving Palestinian flags and standing on Israeli ones. Bazian took his audience through 3,000 years of Palestinian history in an hour, then led the group in prayer. 

A handful of Bay Area mosques closed so that their members could attend the rally, and others directed their congregations to the protest after the Friday prayer. Muslims all over the world were summoned to demonstrate on the Muslim holy day, said Iman Farajallah, a chief organizer of the rally. 

“You cannot use rockets, live bullets and bombs to civilians,” said Farajallah, the director of American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice. 

After prayer, the crowd began its march, picking up people along the way. “No justice, no peace!” they called. Then the Arabic, “With our blood and our soul, we will liberate Palestine” echoed through Kearney Street. 

As the group neared the Israeli Consulate, the crowd broke into a run, waving Palestinian flags. “Arab Palestine!” people chanted, by now numbering at least 3,000, according to police estimates. 

The Israeli Consulate closed early for the Friday Jewish sabbath. A consular spokesperson did not return phone calls to comment on this article. 

The back of a rented U-Haul pickup truck on the street served as a stage outside the consulate. Christian and Jewish speakers, as well as Muslims called for an end to the Israeli occupation. 

Many at the protest were Palestinian. Ramzi Taha, 17, wearing a T–shirt hand–painted with Palestinian flags, has been in the United States just over a year. His uncle was killed at a protest this week. Taha said he talks on the phone with his relatives in the West Bank. “It’s in a fire. They cannot control it,” he said. 

“A few of my neighbors got killed,” said Bassim Elkarra, a member of the Arab Students Union at UC Berkeley. “I can’t even study – in the past week I’ve barely gone to class,” said Elkarra, whose father is currently visiting Gaza. 

“There must be no more blood in our name,” said Bazian.