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Impact of Israel-Hamas War on Virginians

People gather wearing scarves and carrying flags and signs in support of Palestinians at Monroe Park in Richmond.
Keyris Manzanares
VPM News Focal Point
Virginians are reacting to the Israel-Hamas War by exercising their right to protest. People in support of Palestine gathered in Monroe Park in late-October.

Virginians are raising their voices through protests and solidarity gatherings to support Israeli and Palestinian communities.  


KEYRIS MANZANARES: The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond held a solidarity gathering following the October 7th surprise attack when Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 adults and children, and took 222 people hostage. Local Rabbi Sherry Grinsteiner, who spoke at the event, has family living in Israel.

SHERRY GRINSTEINER (RICHMOND AREA RABBI): I am very concerned for the wellbeing of my children. They're constantly in and out of the bomb shelters. I mean, they're living in a state of terror. Nobody knows what they can do. I have nephews and nieces with children. Nobody leaves the house. We just want to live peacefully, and we need to have the other side to understand that we are going to be here waiting for a hand that is being stretched with peace. But again, peace needs to be achieved by peace means, not by terrorist attacks, not by means of killing, and murdering innocent people.

KEYRIS MANZANARES: After Israel responded to the Hamas attack by bombing Gaza, protests erupted on college campuses. In Richmond, hundreds of demonstrators marched near Virginia Commonwealth University in late October in support of the Palestinians. They called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war where thousands have been killed. VCU students and community members coming together, many wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves, and carrying flags and signs, exercising their right to express their views through protest.

SEREEN HADDAD (PALESTINIAN ADVOCATE): In reality, all we're trying to do is fight for our freedom and fight for our rights. I think we have, but we have been for the past 75 years. The right for me, the right for every Palestinian to protest is so important for us because if we stop speaking up, who's going to speak up?

KEYRIS MANZANARES: 19-year-old Sereen Haddad worries about her family who is living in Gaza.

SEREEN HADDAD: We're really just waiting in the morning for text messages, trying to make sure that they're still alive. It's really horrible. My grandmother's house that she used to tell us stories about all the time, the other day, it actually just got leveled. It got completely bombed, and I never got to visit it. We never got to go.

KEYRIS MANZANARES: Reporting for VPM News Focal Point, I'm Keyris Manzanares.


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