As the war in Gaza continues, with at least 11,000 dead in Gaza, including more than 4,500 children, condemnation of Israeli’s assault continues to grow around the world. Fargo is no exception. On Sunday, Nov. 12, the streets were overtaken by protestors calling for a cease-fire and an end to Israeli settler colonialism.
The protest began at the Fargo city hall, where many speakers, including Palestinians, spoke to the crowd. Marwa Jarada, a NDSU student, shared about her family that was killed by an airstrike. Her father, mother, two sisters, two nephews, and her uncle’s family were among those murdered. In total, she lost 16 family members that day.
She emphasized that these deaths aren’t just a statistic. “These were lives filled with potential and love. Let us remember them as individuals who, like all of us, are dreaming to pursue a better life.” She shared about one of her sisters, who just completed a master’s degree in clinical psychology.
“She was not just a graduate. She was a compassionate professional who dedicated her skills to helping others within. She worked tirelessly as a psychologist, providing support to women and children who were affected by the deep scars of war… She was also preparing for a personal milestone, her upcoming wedding in October.”
The bomb that killed Jarada’s family wasn’t a rare tragic accident. Since Oct. 7, Israel has dropped 25,000 tons of explosives on Gaza, according to the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor. For reference, the Little Boy nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 15,000 tons of explosives. Gaza is also incredibly small. 2.2 million people live in 224 square miles. That is about 4.5 times the area of the city of Fargo. More than half the homes in Gaza have been damaged and 40,000 have been completely destroyed.
Another speaker, Abdullah, has shared about the persistent fear he has for his family in Gaza. Those living outside of Gaza have extreme difficulty contacting their relatives. He has been “glued” to his phone and hasn’t been able to talk to his mother for two days.
Once the call eventually goes through, “I hear the voices of my family shake… Most times, there are two things in question: life and dignity. If the phone call goes through, the first question is answered.” He then asks them if they have food or water. The one question they have is if there is any news of a cease-fire, “but I have no words of comfort.”
Seven speakers in total shared before the protest began to march through downtown Fargo. Initially, the crowd tried to stay on the sidewalk, but very quickly, the large group moved onto the street, marching in a circle around downtown. The group then finished by returning to city hall, where the group finished the evening with some final words and a two-minute moment of silence to honor the victims.
The protestors didn’t just call for a ceasefire but condemned Israel’s actions as ethnic cleansing and genocide. Many Israeli holocaust and genocide scholars, like Raz Segal and Omer Bartov, share this fear. In an interview with Democracy Now, Bartov warns that “the disproportionate killing of civilians by Israel, as well as dehumanizing statements by Israeli leaders and suggestions of mass expulsion, are of grave concern.”
“We are now actually rolling out the Gaza Nakba,” says Avi Dichter, Israel’s Minister for Agriculture and former head of the Israeli Security Agency. The “Nakba” Dichter is referring to, meaning catastrophe in Arabic, was in 1948 when 700,000 Palestinians, half the population, were forced off their land to areas outside of the new state of Israel. Numerous Israeli officials have made similar statements. Likewise, according to one Israeli military spokesperson, “the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy.”
The UN estimates that 1.5 million people are internally displaced in Gaza. Many hospitals in Gaza have had to suspend operations due to a lack of resources and others are being sieged by the Israel military.
Another speaker at Sunday’s event, a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, denounced Israel, saying, “Like the US, Israel is a violent settler nation that should be condemned for its crimes against humanity. Decolonization is the only form of justice for the crimes of settler colonialism. Those who advocate for native liberation from the US occupation must also advocate for decolonization in Palestine.”
Elsewhere, Israel’s actions have also been condemned by Holocaust survivor Marione Ingram, who has also called for a cease-fire. “What Israel is doing in Gaza, in the West Bank, and has been doing, is only going to strengthen the attack on Israel,” says Ingram. “You cannot expect that people will be quiet after what we’ve all witnessed. I say stop, stop this madness.”