Alachua Residents Discuss Growing Movement to Achieve Palestinian Independence and End Genocide in Gaza on 4th of July

Alachua Residents Discuss Growing Movement to Achieve Palestinian Independence and End Genocide in Gaza on 4th of July

On Thursday, July 4, residents from Gainesville and Alachua County gathered at Bo Diddley Plaza for a community discussion on how they can build a mass movement in Alachua County to support global organization for a free Palestine. 

The University of Florida (UF) Divestment Coalition sent a press release on the event through their recently established newsletter; however, they made it clear that the “forum is being independently organized and is not affiliated with a specific organization or group, and all who want to work towards stopping the genocide are welcome to attend and participate.”

They discussed what they have already accomplished, such as getting the Alachua County Commission to non-politically divest from all corporations, as reported in Main Street Daily News. Florida law prevents divestments for non-pecuniary factors, i.e., all governmental entities must make divestments for monetary reasons. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed House Bill 7071, which prohibits the State Board of Administration from having "direct holdings in Chinese companies."

The event heard from numerous speakers, including long-time Gainesville organizer Kali Blount.

Blount talked about the cycle of violence, saying Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was enabling Hamas and referencing allegations that he gave money to Qatar to fund Hamas, which he has denied

“The people in Gaza, Palestinians, have endured 76 years of oppression and the violation of treaty agreements. They must feel like the Native Americans, treaty after treaty destroyed. Benjamin Netanyahu says his mission is to ‘destroy Hamas….’ They believe him…. But what he is doing is creating the next three generations of hatred for Israel. He is perpetuating Hamas into the indefinite future, and [that's] the opposite of what he says his mission is. On October 6, last year, Netanyahu was already in a position where [at least] half of his country wanted him out because of his anti-democratic manipulation of government institutions. He then failed to prevent this October 7 issue and had in fact been leaking money to Hamas in order to make an in-balanced and unstable leadership situation in Palestine. [It] was just to keep them from being reliable partners in talking about a two-state solution…. He knows that as soon as the hostilities stop, he has to face the music for his security failure and all the [reasons] Israelis were rejecting him before October 7.”

Blount went on to say that Biden is sending Israel bombs and other weapons to use against Palestinian civilians because he feels guilty about the U.S. government offering poor asylum policies to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution and turning away 937 European Jewish refugees aboard the German S.S. Louis in June 1939, most of whom did not survive the Holocaust. 

Palestinian-Lebanese Gainesville resident and second-generation Nakba survivor Jazmin Cooley spoke against global celebrations of imperialism. “It's important to dissolve the Zionist agenda to being a settler colonist one. People are framing it. It's an ideology that the U.S. has also done here, as we’re ‘celebrating’ the 4th on Native American people’s land. Additionally, a lot of time in organizing there tends to be on individualistic desires or points that want to be made, and I think it's important to remove yourself and your beliefs from that and look at the collective mass movement that we are a part of. At the end of the day, we are fighting for an end to this genocide and a liberated Palestine. If there’s anything that’s getting in the way of that, you need to question why and if that is enhancing the movement or hindering it. If there’s beliefs you have and we don’t agree, it's okay as long as it's firm with the mission of the mass movement and pro-Palestinian liberation. I don’t think you have to like the person, organization, or group, but work together because that's what the Palestinian resistance is doing, and we need to mirror that.”

University of Florida English Department professor Malini Schueller encouraged members of advocacy organizations that aren’t centered on Palestine to see intersectionality between the issues and provide support to their movement, with groups like Queers in Palestine being brought up in the dissussion. She said, "All these other movements which consider themselves different should see that they have a commonality with the people of Palestine. That’s how we can build a movement. If you know people who are major organizers in anything, tell them to build a coalition like Environment for Palestine. If you’re concerned about the environment, see the devastation that's happening and do something with that. Connect with Palestine in every way.”

Cooley said in an interview that America’s independence day does not represent independence for her. “It's a stark reminder of how most of us are not free. It's a reminder that it's a select few privileged people who are free. We posted this event specifically on July 4th to remind people of this and discuss what it means to seek liberation.”

Cooley gave insight on recent headlines by news organizations rumoring that Israel is going to invade Lebanon amid recent escalations between the Israeli military and Hezbollah. “They talk about it, but I think Israel and the U.S. are terrified of the Lebanese resistance. If they try, it's not going to be good for them, in my personal opinion. My family lived through seven or eight Israeli invasions, and my dad fought against them.”

According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, “Israel, Hezbollah, and other armed groups in Lebanon exchanged at least 7,400 attacks across the border from October 7, 2023, to June 21, 2024,” reports Al-Jazeera. The network also reported on June 8 that "Israeli attacks since October 7 have killed more than 300 members of Hezbollah and about 80 civilians, according to the group and Lebanese officials."

Cooley finalized the interview, saying current pro-Palestine actions being held around Gainesville have accomplished a lot but emphasized an additional need for more direct action. “There needs to be disruption on as many fronts as possible. A suggestion we’ve heard is withholding labor. I think protests are an excellent tactic for getting your voice and message across, but we also need to be utilizing resources that have been done in the past. People also need to realize it's slow, and we need to be working diligently because this is a state of emergency. Change happens slowly, people need to remember we’re creating pressure; we’re having our voices heard in a way that I’ve never seen Palestine be heard before.”

A day following the community forum, one of the attendees anonymously criticized the article TV20 posted regarding the event, stating the station reporting “Supporters of Palestine rallied” was a mischaracterization because it was a community forum and attendees did not do any form of rallying. Community members sat in a circle having a discussion followed by a screening of the Al Jazeera documentary “The Night Won’t End - Biden’s war in Gaza.” 

Additionally, TV20 reported the film was “about what [Al Jazeera] says is America’s role in the war on Gaza.” TV20 did not report the fact that the American government has provided the Israeli military with at least $12.5 billion in foreign aid. 

Furthermore, a main theme of The Night Won’t End was the U.S.’s aid to Israel, but the film was more centered around Al Jazeera’s investigations into war crimes against Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military and testimonies from three Palestinian families in Gaza. A prominent focus of the film is the death of six-year-old Hind Rajab, who was killed after an Israeli tank with a direct line of fire to her shot into a car where she and her family, who’d already been killed by Israeli tank fire, were in. Two paramedics were also killed attempting to rescue Rajab.

From left: Hind Rajab, 6, Bashar Hamada, 44, and his daughter Layan, 15, were killed, along with four other family members, as well as paramedics Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun. (Mohammed Hamada and Palestine Red Crescent Society )

Just a couple hours away from Gainesville, The Night Won’t End Executive Producer Laila Al Arian’s father, University of South Florida Professor Dr. Sami Al Arian, had been subject to a raid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at his home in Tampa in February 2003. 

Laila Al-Arian, who is also a journalist, reported in an article on The Nation that “prosecutors presented seventy-five witnesses, including nearly two dozen from Israel. Their testimony centered on attacks that even the US government acknowledged my father had nothing to do with. The prosecutors also introduced 400 phone calls out of nearly half a million that the FBI had recorded over a decade of relentless, indiscriminate surveillance of my family. My father’s attorneys did not call a single witness; their defense was the First Amendment.” 

Dr. Sami Al Arian pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide services to Palestinian Islamic Jihad after striking a plea deal with prosecutors, in which they acquitted him of “eight of seventeen counts and voting ten to two to acquit him on the rest,” as reported by Laila Al Arian.

When Your Father Is Accused of Terrorism
My dad, Dr. Sami Al-Arian, was arrested by the FBI on trumped up charges, sending a chill through the local Muslim community. Yet we found support from unlikely allies.
UF Divest Coalition Newsletter | Substack
Our mission is to keep the broader communities in Alachua County updated about all local events and actions that are related to permanently ending the genocide in Gaza and for a Free Palestine. Click to read UF Divest Coalition Newsletter, a Substack publication with hundreds of subscribers.

This portion of the article was updated July 8 to give the further context to the names of Palestinians who have been killed.


Article Two of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such:"

(a) Killing members of the group

The Gaza Health Ministry refers to Palestinian casualties as martyrs. The first set of data reports approximately 21,323 martyrs confirmed from October 7 through March 29. 

The following data references martyrs who have been identified in literal terms, and does not represent martyrs whose identities haven’t been verified. It also doesn’t reference martyrs who’ve died from causes that could be could considered external or second-hand like disease.

A study published by British medical journal the Lancet says there could be 186,000 Palestinian people in Gaza who’ve lost their lives since October 7.

The data provided to GnvInfo was sent by Palestinians in Gaza, as the PDF files containing the recorded names of Palestinians killed are not easily found from a Google search and are currently only available in Arabic.

The second set of data does not regard adult male Palestinian martyrs. Beginning March 30, men stopped being counted among the martyrs, with the Gaza Health Ministry recording the losses of women, children, and elderly Palestinians, as they were reportedly facing more strains in resources after Al-Shifa Hospital was sieged for a second time at the end of March.

Furthermore, senior Palestinian health official Hani al-Jaafarawi was killed by an Israeli air raid on June 23. The names and many pictures of hundreds of healthcare workers killed in Gaza has been recorded by Healthcare Workers Watch.

The Gaza Health Ministry elected to divide women, children, and the elderly into three different lists beginning March 30. Not counting men, from March 30 to April 30, there were a total of 14,050 martyrs, with 7,796 being children, 4,960 being women, and 1,924 being elderly.

This would mean the total number of martyrs from Oct 7 to April 30, excluding men who died from March 30 to April 30, would total 35,373.

This would accurately reflect the commonly reported number of martyrs being in the thirty-five thousands; however, those reports generally don’t clarify that adult men are no longer being recorded. 

The source of the data asked not to be named and it was received second-hand. GnvInfo is looking for an official source from the Gaza Health Ministry for official confirmation on if adult-male Palestinian martyrs are no longer being counted.

On Thursday, June 27, the U.S. The House of Representatives passed a bill banning the use of the Gaza Health Ministry's data. It hasn’t been signed into law yet. 

The Gaza health ministry has been scrutinized for being under the authority of Hamas; however, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch said he saw no evidence that the numbers were being manipulated. Additionally, Israeli investigative journalist Yuval Abraham has found Israel relies almost entirely on the Gaza Health Ministry’s data. 

GnvInfo was also provided with data showing the names of all the Palestinian orphans who had been documented from October 7 through May 1, totaling 15,480 kids without parents in Gaza. 

In July, Israel National Security Minister Ben-Gvir publicly called for the starving and gunshot executions of Palestinian prisoners, saying “Palestinian prisoners must be killed, shot in the head. The law of executing prisoners will be passed on the third reading in the Knesset and the law will mean we will give them a little to live on and nothing more.”

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group

On July 2 Palestinian Gazan journalist Ahmed Al Arini posted a video on his Instagram showing an elderly man who was recently displaced amid a recent Israeli order for all Palestinians to evacuate Khan Yunis. Al Arini reported, “An old man is seen getting displaced from Khan Yunis about to collapse due to the weight of belongings he's carrying with him in hot humid weather. This is just one example of hundreds of thousands, who were displaced yesterday due to an Israel invasion of most areas in Khan Yunis, leaving civilians with nowhere to go.”

Israel has claimed Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields due to a tunnel system connecting the Gaza region, as reported by Reuters. Hamas has denied using the tunnels for non-military purposes. 

Despite Israel's claims of Hamas using Palestinian civilians as human shields, footage has emerged of Israeli soldiers physically using Palestinian civilians as human shields. 

On June 22 Mujahed Abadi was shot twice, beaten, and strapped to the hood of the jeep by members of the Israeli military who gave him no explanation. They drove away with Abadi effectively using him as a human shield. Al-Jazeera reported the hood was hot enough to leave Abadi with burns. The twenty-four year old man told Al-Jazeera, “They did not offer me any explanation – at all. On the contrary, they wanted to beat me some more. They did not tell me anything. All I remember is that they were laughing while they were beating me.” He went on to say he can no longer sleep after the battering. He said he's “suffering from a strong psychological situation. I try to sleep, but I wake up immediately,”

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Another video of Israeli soldiers using a Palestinian man as a human shield which did not receive as much mainstream attention surfaced on Reddit in January, and shows an Israeli soldier putting a gun to the head of a Palestinian man and forcing him to walk in front of him and his fellow soldiers. The original source of the video hasn’t been traced. 

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Former Director of Congressional and Public Affairs for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs John Paul’s said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the Defense for Children in Palestine informed him a 13-year-old boy was raped in a Muskubiya Jurusalem prison. He said the allegations were found to be credible and they were put to the government of Israel who responded by declaring the Defense for Children in Palestine a terrorist entity. 

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The New York Times reported a testimony of Palestinian civilian Fadi Bakar. He said that Israeli soldiers shot him and accused him of coming out of a tunnel when he was looking for flour. After being shot he was transported to Sde Teiman detention camp and tortured. 

Bakar said on camera that Israeli soldiers “[put] cigarettes out inside our mouths, on our bodies, and our genitals. [They] took me to what’s known as the diaper building or electricity building. In that building I stayed for four days without any food or water. On the fourth day they just brought me half a piece of bread and half a cucumber. I went into the interrogation room, it was just beatings, torture, breaking, and strangulation.” Bakar went on to say that his toe was amputated and that he witnessed  “occupation soldiers let loose trained police dogs on [a] young man, who was subjected to [rape]”, as reported by the Euro-Med Human Rights Moniter. Bakar, a civilian, was released after a total of 40 days.

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Israel National Security Minister Ben-Gvir said in a statement on Twitter on July 2 that “Everything published about the abominable conditions of these vile murderers in prison was true. They ruled the prisons without question, and did whatever they pleased.”

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part

In addition to the destruction of the majority of medical facilities in Gaza, there are reportedly no universities left standing, with few educational buildings being saved from demolition. 

Furthermore, The United Nations Satellite Center has found, as of March 20, 2024, "35% of all buildings in the Gaza Strip have been damaged, representing 88,868 structures, among which 31,198 structures have been identified as destroyed, 16,908 severely damaged, and 40,762 moderately damaged."

As of April 19 2024, the United Nations reports, “290,000 housing units were partially damaged; more than 25,010 buildings and 79,000 housing units were destroyed; 405 schools and universities were damaged or destroyed; about 700 health facilities and hospitals were affected or damaged; three churches, 290 mosques and 168 government premises were destroyed.”

Floridian Nurse who volunteered in Gaza and testified to genocide in Gaza at the Library District Headquarters in Gainesville last April, Rana Mahmoud, said that if Palestinian children “hadn’t lost a parent or their limbs, they’ve lost their homes. Which is primarily everyone.”

The majority of cellular towers in Gaza have been destroyed, with Gazan journalist Akram Al Satarri telling NPR “We keep struggling to find those good internet and electricity sources. Sometimes you work for two or three days then it goes off, which means you have to find another alternative. So we spend most of our time looking for electricity supply and looking for internet access.”

Former Israeli military control officer Michael Ofer Ziv told Haaretz that members of the military would celebrate after taking down “vehicles, buildings, and people.” He said, “Every time a building falls, everyone goes 'Wow!' Many people, including me, have the experience of 'Wow, it's insane,' and there are those who say, 'We're showing them, screwing them, taking revenge.' That's the vibes you hear in the war room." Ziv refused to participate in the Israeli military after October 7 along with 41 other Israeli reservists, reports Haaretz.

Presently borders to Israel are closed and the only way for Palestinians to leave Gaza is through the Egypt-Palestine border. Many Palestinian civilians have turned to GoFundMe to gain the funds to cross the border to Egypt, as the price has increased exponentially since October 7, reaching “$7,000 per person,” reports NBC news. 

The Economist reports the price per person to leave Gaza is “$5,000 for an adult and $2,500 for a child, [with] some reporting paying up to 15,000.” 

Over 12,000 GoFundMe accounts for Palestinians attempting to evacuate Gaza have spurred, with many aiming for high monetary goals due to the prices per person and there often being multiple people per family. 

Most crowd funds are organized by Gazan’s family members outside of Palestine due to low and unreliable internet access, such as in the case of Bacil Elhaddad in the United Kingdom who is attempting to raise $30,000 to evacuate six of his family members in Gaza on GoFundMe.

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group

There is evidence that the Israeli military has imposed measures to prevent Palestinian births. A report from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights states: “Killings, injuries, toxic gas inhalations, and causing serious psychological and physical harm amid heightened feelings of fear and anxiety and a lack of special protection. All of this combined will lead to preventing births and have serious consequences on reproductive health, including a rise in pregnancy pains, miscarriages, stillbirths, and premature births.”

Additionally, the Director for the Gaza Minstery’s Health Center Dr. Moatasem Salah and the United Nations has reported that nearly 70 percent of the casualties are women and children. 

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

There is evidence that the Israeli military has forcibly transferred Palestinian children.

According to data released before Oct 7, by the Israeli Military Service released on Military Court Watch “64 percent of Palestinian children detained by Israeli military forces in the West Bank were transferred and detained inside Israel in 2021.”

A report from the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor shows an Israeli soldier carrying a baby wrapped in a blanket. The report stresses the “recent mysterious disappearance of hundreds of Palestinian detainees from the [Gaza] Strip.”The report states Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor has a “deep fear and concern that the incident involving the officer and the Palestinian baby is not an isolated case. Numerous testimonies that the rights group has received say that the Israeli army regularly detains and transfers Palestinian children without disclosing their whereabouts.”

The kidnapping can be confirmed to not be isolated through another video which surfaced on Reddit and was later taken down. An original source hasn’t been found. The video shows a small girl being forced out of her home by soldiers and placed into a military vehicle. It appeared to take three Israeli soldiers to force one small Palestinian girl inside of the vehicle

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Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of Gnvinfo and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL