NEW ORLEANS — Three New Orleans college students organized a solidarity march Sunday evening to show support for Palestinians and raise awareness on the war in Gaza. Israel and Hamas, the militant group in Gaza, agreed to a ceasefire after 11 days of fighting.
Several hundred people attended the rally, including a large presence of Palestinian-Americans.
"It's one of the most important things you can do as a person is stand for solidarity against oppressions no matter where it comes from," Laith Shalabi said.
The march was organized by two Loyola students, Ruba Esmail and Jeanine Halum, and a Delgado Charity nursing student, Amana Hindi. They are part of a volunteer student organization called the Muslim Youth of New Orleans.
"It's sad living as a Palestinian-American, living in a country where our tax dollars are going towards killing my people," Halum said.
The rally comes a couple of days after Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government.
“It's essential that the Palestinians on the West Bank be secured, that Abbas be recognized as the leader of the Palestinian people, which he is. Hamas is a terrorist organization, we've recognized that" President Biden said Friday.
Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel killing 13 people. Israeli airstrikes killed more than 240 Palestinians, 66 of them were children.
"Hamas is a product of occupation and under any fights for freedom, there will be militia groups who will fight for freedoms and do so any way possible. They are dealing with violence. No one asks for freedom nicely," Shalabi said.
The senior adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister, Mark Regev, spoke on Fox News Sunday.
"They were trying to murder our people in their homes. We were defending ourselves our operation was fundamentally designed simply to protect our civilian population," Regev said. "Almost 20% of their rockets fell short landing in Gaza killing Gaza civilians, it didn't bother me at all, they kept doing that. Part of the death and destruction was because of their audience their explosives going off. We made a maximum effort to minimize human casualties. They did exactly the opposite."
A cease-fire has been in effect since Friday, but rallies are still being held all over the world showing growing support for Palestinians, even in the U.S. where Israel is America's biggest ally in the Middle East.
"The American-Palestinian population, we're sick of it. We're sick and tired and we want to bring awareness to the people here," Esmail said.
Friday President Biden reiterated his support for Israel, while also promising to offer humanitarian help in Gaza.
“We're going to attempt to put together a major package with other nations that share our view to rebuild the homes without re-engaging, without providing Hamas the opportunity to rebuild their weapons systems," he said.
The ceasefire is holding, but protestors fear what could be next.