Israeli offensive prompts protest in SF

January 3, 2009 7:45:18 PM PST
The Israeli ground invasion in Gaza has sparked protests in cities around the world including San Francisco.

Demonstrators began gathering at Market and Powell late Saturday afternoon. A group of around four or five dozen people began a march to Civic Center around 6:00 p.m.

The group says they will continue marching and protesting in San Francisco as long as Israel continues military action in Gaza.

The passion in this protest is undeniable.

"As a Palestinian American my blood is boiling. My blood is boiling," said

People from all over the Middle East, as well as those born here in the Bay Area, have been protesting for nearly a week in the streets of San Francisco.

"I'm so passionate about it because there are people who are being murdered. There's a whole group of people, Palestinians, who are being considered to be non-human," said Nadeen El Shorafa with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center.

"It's leaving everybody in the world community who believes in justice with a really sick feeling in our stomach," said Jess Ghannam with the National Council of Arab Americans.

But, there is a group on the other side of the street who says they believe in justice as well.

"These people are pointing their finger at Israel and saying Israel is the aggressor when it's Hamas, who is basically the cause of all of their pain," said Aaron Goldstein, a supporter of Israel.

San Francisco's Deputy Consul General for the State of Israel, Ishmael Khaldi, says he is under police protection as he repeats the government's mission.

"Israel is doing this operation as a defensive operation to stop Hamas from launching more rockets on Israeli civilians," he said.

"That's just a bogus, typical Israeli narrative that gives them cover for this expansion," said Ghannam.

Protestors gathered Friday night outside the consulate on Montgomery Street, which closed to avoid any confrontation. That building was closed again Saturday and under the police department's watch.

Khaldi explained, "Sometimes there's a fear that they will smuggle inside pretending to be people coming for consular services."

These protestors say all they are looking for is peace for innocent Palestinians.

"My family there can't do anything right now. They're sitting in their home not being able to move. But, we have the ability to move and we have a voice," said Shorafa.

Saturday's protest was one of many taking place in the streets and one of many more to come. The group told ABC7 they would be protesting Sunday and Monday during rush hour.