Gaza Vigil held in Temple Terrace listen01/09/09 Seán Kinane
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This afternoon, more than 200 people turned out to a silent vigil for victims of Israel’s violence in the occupied Gaza Strip.
People holding flags, posters and photos stood on all four corners of Temple Terrace’s busiest intersection, Fowler Avenue and 56th Street as rush hour traffic passed by Friday afternoon. The silent vigil for innocent victims of Israel’s siege, bombardment, and invasion of the Palestinian Gaza Strip was organized, in part, by Friends of Human Rights. Lars Underbakke is their spokesperson.
Full disclosure: this reporter used to be a member of Friends of Human Rights.
Underbakke said the purpose of the vigil was to call for an immediate ceasefire between militants in Palestine and the Israeli Defense Forces. “To see an end to the death on both sides.”
Lt. Sealy from the Temple Terrace Police Department and a department corporal told organizers they realized the vigil would be peaceful and they were there just to keep them safe. Supporters of an end to Mideast violence stood on three of the corners of the intersection, but across the street on the fourth corner, seven people stood, some with Israeli flags, posters reading “We will never submit” and “Palestine is Jordan;” one even wore a gas mask.
Binyomin Sheis called the group We Support Israel group for Tampa Bay. Sheis said that Palestinians should not have a state in Gaza or the West Bank, nor should they get Israeli citizenship.
Sheis said the reasons he was there were to show that “Israel is in the right” and because he felt the vigil would turn violent.
Nearby, a Jewish woman who lives in Seminole Heights waited for Bus number 6 and was not involved in the vigil. She wanted to remain anonymous, but said that 60 members of her family had died during the Nazi Holocaust in the 1930s and 40s. She also wants an end to the violence. “It’s god-awful and it should stop right away.”
On Friday, the Florida Senate took time out of a special session to deal with the state’s budget shortfall and passed a resolution showing solidarity with Israel and its “right to self-defense.” The Florida House unanimously approved the resolution on Monday, the first day of the special session on the budget crisis.
The resolution does not call for an immediate end to all violence; it asserts that innocent civilians have been killed because of “ongoing escalations of violence initiated by Palestinian terrorist organizations.”
The group Gaza Justice Association has organized an online action for Floridians to tell their state legislators how they feel about this resolution. The co-host of WMNF’s public affairs program True Talk, Samar Jarrah is a member of the Gaza Justice Association and said she would rather have legislators solving problems like the economy that are important to Floridians.
A major statewide protest against Israel’s attacks on the Palestinians will be held Saturday at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando beginning at 1 p.m. Groups are organizing transportation from the Tampa Bay area.