Hundreds gathered at the Provo City Library on Saturday, Nov. 4 to peacefully protest the extent of damage and lives lost in Palestine from the recent Hamas terrorist attacks and Israeli conflict.
International conflict and war over the past ten years between Israel and Hamas terrorist groups have caused thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries in Palestine according to OCHA reports. Israeli attacks against the Hamas terrorist group in retaliation to Hamas’s attacks on Israel on Oct. 7 have taken the lives of 9,770 Palestinians as of Nov. 5. Concurrently, OCHA reports roughly 1,400 Israeli fatalities. These numbers have ignited protests across the nation, including Pro-Palestinain protests demanding peace and the ceasefire of Israeli forces that have destroyed Gaza communities.
The Utah County Stands with Palestine Ceasefire protest took place Saturday, Nov. 4 from noon to 3 p.m., the same time as the Pro-Palestinian Ceasefire protests in Washington, D.C. Other protests occurred around the world on Saturday in response to Israeli attacks on Palestinian soil. In Provo, many gathered to protest for peace and ceasefire.
Announcements of the protest were posted to social media by the People’s Power Project, a socialist organization in Utah dedicated to “building the unity and the power of the people,” according to their Instagram.
The aims of the ceasefire protest, according to social media announcements, were to demand a ceasefire of attacks from Israel on Palestine. Demands advocated in the protest were also to “allow humanitarian aid to Gaza in the form of medicine, food, and fuel,” and to “acknowledge the collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza.”
“Our action here today is to mobilize … this is a rally to come together in one big voice and say loud and clear that we do not stand by genocide,” said B. Propo, a Provo resident and member of the Amistad Collective, a Latine Grassroots organization in Utah County.
Other participants in Saturday’s protest represented various groups from the Utah community who support the goal of a ceasefire in Gaza.
Sam Silverman, a Provo resident originally from Pennsylvania who practices Judaism, said wanting to support those in Palestine is not anti-Semitic.
“Coming and protesting is humanizing us, and when we stand and don’t do anything it makes us inhuman,” Silverman said.
Izabella Steiner was another Provo resident who peacefully protested against violence on behalf of her Palestinian family.
“It feels like humanity is falling apart,” Steiner said. “I wish people were open-minded to listening to both sides. There is no good reason for what is happening right now (in Palestine).”
Solingren, a musical group from Provo, also performed at the protest with band members singing the “Prayer of the Mothers” to honor innocent mothers and families who have lost their lives and their children because of the unrest in Palestine. Of the 10,000 Palestinian deaths reported on Nov. 6, more than 4,008 were children and 2,550 women. About 2,260 others are reported missing in Gaza, including 1,270 children. Most are presumed to be trapped under rubble according to OCHA reports.
S. Smithson, a Utah woman from the Provo music group Solringen, said it is easy to ignore these tragedies when it’s not on your doorstep.
“If everyone took a minute to think of yourself in their shoes, this would not be allowed to happen,” Smithson said.
Yasmin Abuomar, a Palestinian woman who grew up in Gaza and is now pursuing her MBA in Utah, spoke of her life in Gaza.
“Growing up in Gaza I attended all the wars … the war of 2008, 2012, 2018 …” Abuomar said.
Abuomar explained she recently worked with a team of Palestinians who were the funniest and most kindhearted people she knew.
In his speech given at Saturday’s protest, Mustafa Khader, an Israeli man who grew up in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Palestinian border and who now lives in Provo, emphasized the need for unity in this time of conflict.
“We are not the people of the United States, we are the people of the world,” Khader said.
Razan Alkhateeb, a Palestinian-American woman, spoke at Saturday’s event and emphasized how a sense of family and community is deeply rooted in Palestinian culture.
“It doesn’t matter your background. As a human, you deserve to live in dignity,” Alkhateeb concluded.
To further the humanization of the Palestinian people, Alkhateeb shared stories of Palestinian traditions like sewing and her grandmother’s embroidery tradition.
“We will keep our heritage and traditions alive,” Alkhateeb said. “You can’t take our traditions from us.”
Propo led crowds in many call-and-response chants that echoed those from Washington, D.C.
Information regarding future peaceful protests supporting Palestinians in Gaza can be found on multiple social media platforms including the People’s Power Project, Utah Mutual Aid and Amistad Collective.