Hundreds of Philadelphia high school students walked out of school Friday to march around City Hall in support of Palestinians.
“This is not a war. This is a genocide,” Nora, a student in the School District of Philadelphia who helped organize the action, said of the ongoing Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, even in places where Palestinians were told to seek safety. “The goals of today’s protests are … to get justice, and to fight back, and to use our voices.”
Nora said students from roughly 20 Philly schools — including Central High School, High School For Creative & Performing Arts (CAPA), Academy at Palumbo, and William W. Bodine High School — took part in the walkout.
More than two million Palestinians face shortages of food, water. and medicine as a result of the Israeli siege of Gaza that began in the days after a Hamas attack that Israeli officials say killed over 1,400 people, with around 200 people taken hostage. As of Friday, Palestinian officials said Israeli airstrikes had killed 4,100 people in Gaza. A ground invasion of Gaza by Israeli forces is expected.
Philadelphians have marched to demand justice for Palestinians, protested local media coverage of the conflict as lacking Palestinian voices, marched in solidarity with Israeli victims of Hamas’ attacks, and protested U.S. Sen. John Fetterman’s support for Israel’s military assault in Gaza. Another rally in support of Palestinians in Gaza is planned for Saturday evening.
“The significance of [Friday’s student] walk-out is showing that it’s not just adults who are sitting in front of the news who care about what’s happening in the world,” said Nada Abuasi, an adult organizer with the Philly Palestine Coalition who attended Friday’s march. “It’s also students who realize this is their future, and that their future is actually in their hands.”
Noor Qutyan, another organizer with the Philly Palestine Coalition, said Friday morning that the point of many of this week’s actions was to call for a ceasefire — but that a ceasefire is the “bare minimum.”
“We also demand for Palestinian liberation, … for Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination,” Qutyan said. “The international community is watching Israel slaughter thousands and thousands of people, and there has been no action at all whatsoever — and this is based on racism and … Islamophobia.”
Medina, a student in the School District of Philadelphia, skipped class to attend the march.
“When a genocide is happening, especially when it’s Palestinians being killed by the Israeli government, I have to speak out,” they said. “I have to say something. I have to use my voice — because that is the one thing that we have.”
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