Israel has initiated a siege on the Gaza Strip in response to an unprecedented attack launched by Hamas militants. While the majority of San Antonio residents were captivated by the Annular Eclipse, others were focused on the plight of Palestine and its civilians caught in the crossfire of an unwanted war. Maureen Kaki, co-founder of San Antonio for Justice in Palestine, expressed her concern during a gathering in front of San Fernando Cathedral. She highlighted the devastating impact of the conflict, stating that over 2,000 people have lost their lives in Gaza, a densely populated area where 2 million individuals are confined to a mere 365-square-kilometer space. Kaki further emphasized the alarming fact that more than half of the affected population consists of children.
As the sun cast crescent shapes through the trees, protesters readied their signs, their attention firmly fixed on the Gaza Strip, facing its darkest hour. Meanwhile, in Main Plaza, residents of San Antonio observed the eclipse through protective glasses, oblivious to the distressing reality unfolding nearby. Kaki’s impassioned speech continued, conveying the weariness of the people of Gaza. She lamented the lack of attention paid to their pleas, despite their relentless pursuit of justice through avenues such as U.N. resolutions, legal pursuits, and the framework of human rights.
The Gaza Strip has been under siege since October 7th, when Hamas launched an attack against Israel, resulting in the loss of more than 1,300 lives. Asil Elashy, a math teacher who migrated to the United States 25 years ago, expressed her disapproval of Hamas’ actions while also highlighting the context in which they have occurred. Elashy emphasized that these actions are a reaction to the cumulative impact of past events. The Israeli authorities’ response to the attack has resulted in the deaths of over 2,200 Palestinians, with civilians in Northern Gaza being warned to evacuate to the south within 24 hours.
Elashy questioned the feasibility of such a request, highlighting the lack of safe spaces available for the displaced individuals. With her own family in the Gaza Strip, she raised concerns about the dire conditions they face, including the scarcity of water, power, and medical supplies. Elashy’s brother, his family, and her mother have already fled the northern part of Gaza but continue to search for a safe haven, shielded from Israeli bombings. She firmly stated that Israel’s actions are not contributing to its own safety but are instead resulting in the loss of innocent lives.
Elashy also expressed apprehension about her tax dollars indirectly supporting the killing of her own family through U.S. aid to Israel. This sentiment resonates with many at the rally, as well as in similar gatherings across the country, where Israel’s actions have been labeled as genocide. Elashy posed a thought-provoking question, asking what else could be considered genocide when a significant number of people are being killed under relentless bombardment.
The situation in Gaza continues to escalate, with civilians enduring unimaginable hardships. As the international community grapples with finding a resolution, the urgent need for a peaceful and sustainable solution becomes ever more apparent.