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BASILAN, Philippines – Thousands of residents from Basilan gathered at Rizal Plaza in Isabela City for a peace rally on Sunday, November 19, expressing solidarity with Palestine in the face of heightened air and ground assaults by Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip.
Demonstrators chanted “Free Palestine” as they embarked on a motorcade, which started the afternoon rally which lasted until the evening.
Organizers hung a giant Palestinian flag on the bridge in Isabela City, conveying a message of solidarity in the call for a Free Palestine, amid the challenges posed by Israel’s offensives.
The Isabela police estimated that some 5,000 protesters took part in the rally.
Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman, alongside other local officials, joined demonstrators in decrying the plight of Palestinians who have been feeling the brunt of the bombardments as a result of Israel’s conflict with Hamas on the Gaza Strip.
Hataman has called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip during a speech at the House of Representatives as he stressed the need to prevent further civilian casualties in Israel’s attacks in Gaza.
Hataman said over 11,000 Palestinian civilians have already lost their lives, with more than 4,000 being young children.
“Huwag tayong tumahimik sa gitna ng kaguluhan. Bilang mga mamamayan ng mundo, may responsibilidad tayo sa ating kapwa anuman ang kanilang lahi na tumindig at magsalita kapag may mali tayong nakikita,” he said in an earlier statement.
(Amid the turmoil, we must not remain silent. As global citizens, we have a responsibility to stand up and speak out against any injustice we witness, regardless of the victims’ race.)
The decades-long conflict escalated after Hamas launched surprise attacks on Israel in October. They breached borders, entered towns and bases controlled by Israeli forces near the Gaza Strip, and took hostages.
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on Hamas and initiated airstrikes on the same day. – Rappler.com