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New Jersey city rallies in support of Palestinians in Gaza


For many Americans, the Hamas attack on Israel and Israel's airstrikes on Gaza are personal. Paterson, N.J., is more than 5,000 miles away, and it's home to a large Palestinian American community, where many have family and friends in the war zone. Harrison Malkin of NJ PBS reports.

HARRISON MALKIN, BYLINE: Nour Abusharia has a personal connection to the war in Gaza, her 17-year-old cousin Halah.

NOUR ABUSHARIA: She has kept me updated on how supermarket shelves have been emptied and how there is no electricity.

MALKIN: Abusharia was among nearly a dozen speakers who expressed support for Palestinian rights and called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

ABUSHARIA: A once-vibrant and lovely 17-year-old Palestinian girl feels a sense of hopelessness, especially after losing her aunt and cousin in a single airstrike.

MALKIN: The Palestinian American Community Center organized the event, and local chapters of Black Lives Matter and Jewish Voice for Peace joined them on Palestine Way in the city's Little Ramallah.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Gaza, Gaza, don't you cry.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Gaza, Gaza, don't you cry.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Palestine will never die.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Palestine will never die.

MALKIN: Protesters numbered at least a thousand, according to the mayor's office. Teenagers waved Palestinian flags from a rooftop as the marchers passed. Rallies here have become a major form of pushback toward the Israeli military's actions and the U.S. government's support. They have also provided solace for community members like Ahmad Qatanani, a resident doctor at Hackensack University Medical Center.

AHMAD QATANANI: I tried to put down into words what to say and I couldn't thank you. My family lost 15 people in one airstrike last week. I don't know any other loved ones there that live in Gaza anymore. We don't know who to contact.

MALKIN: There are more protests expected to come.

For NPR News, I'm Harrison Malkin in Paterson, N.J. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Harrison Malkin