Marchers plead for peace in Gaza

00:00, Aug 04 2014
PEACEFUL PROTEST: Yasmen Elidirisi, 9, and Rital Assad, 6, at the the Palmerston North March for the Children of Gaza.

The rain wasn't enough to stop a huge group marching in a peaceful protest in Palmerston North against Israeli attacks in Gaza.

More than 200 people turned out for the march, carrying banners and chanting "stop the killing, stop the aggression" as they went along Fitzherbert Ave from Hardie St to The Square on Saturday.

Organiser Ola Aly said Gaza was similar in size to Palmerston North and it was painful to see what was happening in the region.

"People are being killed every day and kids are dying, we can't neglect it any more," Aly said.

"We're not trying to put out a political message or religious colour, we're basically saying stop the killing, stop the genocide."

Aly said she was impressed with the turnout, considering there had been only about two days' notice.


"I'm really happy with the understanding of New Zealanders.

"We can't stop [the fighting] but we just want people to hear the voices of Palmerston North to stop the killing of children and innocents."

Hamzah Arafeh, 14, whose parents are from the West Bank, said he did not like seeing children from his home being killed.

"Quite a lot of people in Palmerston North are from Gaza, we just don't like seeing it happen . . . especially when it can be prevented," he said. "We want to get out that this isn't right, we want it to stop, we want to make people aware of what's going on because the media isn't always right."

Manawatu Muslim Association committee president Hazim Arafeh said the march was to spread the message of peace.

"We're trying to show to Palmerston North people that what's happening now in Palestine, especially in Gaza, is a war crime against all humanity and the minimum we can at least do is to stand up and make our voice heard."

Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway told marchers the way to deal with the conflict was through peaceful means, diplomacy, and understanding of one another.

"There is no path to peace through violence and aggression. It is also important New Zealand, which is known around the world as a peacekeeper, makes its voice heard on the international stage."

Manawatu Standard