Demonstrators rally in Moore Square in downtown Raleigh in support of Palestinians

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Monday, October 16, 2023
Demonstrators rally in Moore Square in support of Palestinians
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Hundreds of supporters gathered In Moore Square before marching through the capital city.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A large pro-Palestinian demonstration was held in downtown Raleigh. Hundreds of supporters gathered In Moore Square before marching through the capital city.

The demonstration that was organized Saturday drew a large crowd Sunday afternoon. It comes as the war between Israel and Hamas enters its second week -- with many demonstrators at Sunday's rally calling for a cease fire and criticizing the treatment of Palestinian civilians.

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Since the Hamas attack on Israeli civilians last week the Israeli military has been shelling Gaza, killing an estimated 2,600 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Israeli officials, meanwhile, say over 1,300 of their civilians have been killed in the last week.

Sunday's event was a diverse gathering both in the makeup of those who attended, and in the structure. There were several speakers addressing a large group on the Moore Square lawn, but also circles of people in Muslim prayer, and breakoff groups of people in conversation.

"What we're calling for is a ceasefire, what we're calling for is a de-escalation," said Rania Masri, one of the protest organizers.

Hashem Meriesh is the son of Palestinian refugees and attended the event, saying those in attendance just want Palestinians to have the same rights as other people.

"We're people who want to do what everyone else around the world wants to do," said Mariesh. "We want to live, we want to have families, we want to be able to enjoy our freedoms, we want to grow and live and plan for the future. We just want to be treated like everybody else."

Israeli Defense Force veteran Steven Rosenberg didn't attend the protest, but met with ABC11 in Raleigh to discuss the past week, and where things go from here.

"There was a big segment of Israel that was peace now, land for peace, let's negotiate with the Palestinians. That is all gone, and I have no idea what the future is," said Rosenberg.

Rosenberg said the time for negotiations has come and gone.

"There is no room for a negotiated solution. This is going to be an unconditional surrender in the way that the Americans defeated the Nazis and Japanese in WWII. It's that serious," he said.

As the war wages on, the message in Moore Square was rooted in the sad reality playing out in the Middle East.

"It might be too much to ask for equality but it's not too much to ask for humanity," said Masri.

Sunday's rally was peaceful and there was no counter protest at Moore Square.