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At rally outside CT Capitol, pro-Palestinian groups pledge to keep fighting for Gaza

Pro-Palestinian groups rally outside Connecticut’s Capitol building after an Israeli airstrike hit a refugee tent camp in a western part of Rafah, causing a large fire and killing at least 45 people. Women and children made up most of the dead and dozens were wounded, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Pro-Palestinian groups rally outside Connecticut’s Capitol building after an Israeli airstrike hit a refugee tent camp in a western part of Rafah, causing a large fire and killing at least 45 people. Women and children made up most of the dead and dozens were wounded, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Hundreds of people gathered in front of Connecticut’s Capitol Wednesday night for what they said was “an emergency call to action” to end Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

With Palestinian flags and signs in tow, young kids, students and adults rallied on the lawn in front of the Capitol building in response to Israel’s recent attack on the city of Rafah and the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. On Sunday, an Israeli airstrike hit a refugee tent camp in a western part of Rafah, causing a large fire, killing at least 45 people, and injuring dozens of others.

Yazeed Hasan, an event organizer with the Connecticut chapter of American Muslims for Palestine, is a Palestinian and a lifelong Connecticut resident for whom the war has been deeply personal. He wants the state to take more action against the war, like divesting from Israel.

“I’m hearing about family members dying over there,” Hasan said in an interview. “It's just oppression, and it's backed by a government in a country that I live in. And it's conflicting for me personally, because I used to be proud that I lived in America, but you know, as of the last eight months, I can't say the same to be honest.”

Speakers also shared hopes for the state to divest from military manufacturers, which echoes similar demands that local college students have made to their universities. “No more money for Israel's crimes,” alluding to U.S. military aid to the country, were among the chants.

Organizers wrote in a joint statement before the event that they gathered “to be in community and ground ourselves in the urgency of this moment, but also to recommit ourselves to push further and fight harder for Palestinian liberation.”

Gaza’s Health Ministry estimates that at least 36,000 people have been killed since Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked Israel — the country’s deadliest day in its history — prompting Israel’s military offensive on Gaza.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country must destroy, what he says, are Hamas’ last remaining battalions in Rafah.

But that violence doesn’t represent the basic tenets of Judaism, according to Sasha Zoldessy, a member of the Hartford Jewish Organizing Collective.

“One of the things that's important in Judaism is the idea of tikkun olam, which is to repair the world,” Zoldessy said at the rally. “How is the state of Israel repairing anything? This is only going to lead to more and more violence.”

Pro-Palestinian groups rally outside Connecticut’s Capitol building, May 29, 2024. The organizing groups describe the rally as an emergency call to action for an end to Israel’s military offensive on Gaza. This comes after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) latest attack on the city of Rafah, and the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. On Sunday, an Israeli airstrike hit a refugee tent camp in a western part of Rafah, causing a large fire and killing at least 45 people. Women and children made up most of the dead and dozens were wounded, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Pro-Palestinian groups rally outside Connecticut’s Capitol building, May 29, 2024.

Capitol Police were present and said there were a few more officers on duty than usual because of the event’s projected turnout. No incidences of violence or arrests were witnessed.

Mohammad Shaham is Palestinian and lived in the West Bank. He heard about Wednesday’s rally through social media, and living in Fairfield County, says he goes to rallies in the region at least once a week.

“At the end of the day, as we are thousands of miles away from this country, known as Palestine,” Shaham said. “They still live with us, in our hearts, through our blood.”

Wednesday’s event follows another protest in support of Palestine held May 8 outside the state Capitol. As the CT Mirror reported, on the last day of the legislative session, protesters also called on lawmakers to hold a special session to withdraw Connecticut’s investments in Israeli bonds, as well as in Israeli companies.

In April, state legislators led by Rep. Maryam Khan sent a letter to President Joe Biden and the state’s Congressional Delegation asking for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza. The 18 legislators also called for the release of all hostages and detainees in both Gaza and Israel.

A permanent ceasefire and hostage release deal has not been reached as of Thursday.

Wednesday’s rally was organized by a number of groups including American Muslims for Palestine CT, We Will Return, CT Dissenters, Voice for Humanity, Party for Socialism and Liberation CT, Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven, Hartford Jewish Organizing Collective, Students for Justice in Palestine at UConn and Western Connecticut State University Muslim Student Association.

They pledged to continue rallying for the cause. The next rally is planned for Saturday, June 1 at 5 p.m. on the New Haven Green.

A pro-Palestinian protestor waves a Palestinian flag during a rally outside Connecticut’s Capitol building, May 29, 2024.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
A pro-Palestinian protestor waves a Palestinian flag during a rally outside Connecticut’s Capitol building, May 29, 2024.

This story has been updated.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. She has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.

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