RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Hundreds of people gathered at Monroe Park Wednesday evening to stand in support of Palestine as a millennia-old conflict rages on in the Middle East.
There to support Palestine, and oppose what they view as ongoing aggression from Israel, one protestor said “the Palestinians are not going anywhere.”
The millennia-old conflict on the ground recently surmounted to rockets flying over the region in recent days, leading to mass violence and chaos.
Dr. Michael Fishbach, a history professor at Randolph-Macon College, specializing in modern Middle East history, explained the regional power shift after Israel became a nation following World War II.
“Of course, Israel has taken over the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in 1967. There have been settlements built, there’s been more war, there’s been a peace process,” Fishbach said.
It’s that history, prompting people in Richmond to march. Richmond police redirected traffic as the crowd moved along Broad Street and the heart of VCU’s campus.
Jewish Community Federation of Richmond CEO Daniel Staffenberg said the militant group, Hamas, in Palestine is responsible for the recent escalation.
“Hamas, the terror organization, in control of Gaza firing rockets from civilian areas into Israel… “…as the ones who have had the blood of the innocents on their hands, both in Israel and in Gaza.”
Staffenberg said the Jewish Community Federation agrees with pro-Palestinian groups that the loss of life is horrific.
He indicated his organization will connect virtually tomorrow to be in solidarity with those in Israel.
Virginia Capitol Police announced around 6:16 p.m. that Capitol Square had been closed due to “protest activity.” It reopened shortly before 8 p.m.
Shortly before 6:30 p.m., Virginia Commonwealth University sent out an alert saying traffic had been impacted due to a large public assembly and advised people to avoid the area.
Protestors marched on east Broad street but were forced to go south towards Monroe Park by a police car blockade.