UPDATE@7:49 p.m. Stop the killing of innocent lives was the message shouted by approximately 100 people who attended a Gaza Peace Rally in front of Court House Square in downtown Dayton on Friday afternoon.
The Dayton Palestinian Committee, whose members said they are outraged by the deaths of more than 1,400 Palestinians during the conflict in Gaza, organized the rally.Gaza, near Egypt and bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, has with a population of 1.8 million and is governed by the militant group Hamas, which rejects the existence of Israel.
"We are here in solidarity and support of the people in Gaza. People in Gaza have been brutally attacked by Israel for the last month," said Ribhi Daoud, a rally organizer. "Thousands of people have been killed or injured by Israeli. Its onslaught, its crime, its massacre against innocent people in Gaza."
Daoud went on to say that he is against the United States helping Israel with weapons paid for by taxpayer money.
"We are here calling upon the people of Dayton and all people who can hear our voices, to stop, call your representatives (and tell them) to stop the massacre. Stop killing innocent men, women and children in Gaza," Daoud said. He noted he believes up to 3,000 Palestinians live in the Dayton-area Dayton area.
Another rally organizer, Bassel Elnamara, said, "We are really outraged for that massacre and what's going on is like genocide against innocent civilian people." He went on to say that he is disappointed in the destruction of the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip by "Israelis."
Rally attendees included a significant number of teens, who came holding signs and wearing handmade T-shirts expressing support for Palestinians. Among them was 17-year-old Ayshia Mustapha, a West Carrollton High School student who said she was moved by some graphic pictures she saw online by using the hashtag #FreePalestine on some online social media sites such as Twitter.
"There's no reason to it. You're killing innocent children. If children were playing on a playground just for fun and apparently Israel couldn't see them and they bombed them," Mustapha said. "And what did those children do? Israel calls them terrorists...The U.S. aids Israel and sadly, we're trying to end that."
She went on to say that what's happening to the Palestinians in the Gaza conflict is genocide.
An attempt was made to contact someone with the Dayton Jewish Federation, but no representative was available for comment.
This story contains information from the Associated Press.
EARLIER: A Palestinian peace rally is underway in downtown Dayton, hosted by the Dayton Palestinian Committee.
The rally began at 3 p.m. at the corner of Main and Third streets in Dayton.
The group is calling for a cease fire and peace negotiations to begin.
The rally is underway as President Obama is speaking from the White House about what was supposed to be a 72-hour cease-fire in the conflict region that lasted 90 minutes.
"This event is an opportunity for people to speak out against the atrocities being committed in Gaza with U.S. taxpayer funded weapons," said organizer Dr. Ribhi Daoud, the event's organizer.
"We call on all Americans of conscience and good will to contact their elected officials and demand an end to this massacre and end the occupation," Daoud continued.