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Hawkins, Syracuse protesters outraged at Palestinian deaths during U.S. embassy move in Israel

Last week, demonstrators in Syracuse marked the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic, which refers to the migration of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the independence of Israel. The Syracuse rally was held the day after the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces at the Gaza border.

Ashley Bohrer, a member of the Syracuse chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, said President Donald Trump’s decision to move the embassy was horrifying.

“It’s a direct provocation," Bohrer said. "The moving of the embassy is intended to demonstrate to Palestinians that the U.S. government and the Israeli government are working together in order to contribute to the occupation, make it seem as though there is no alternative and that peace is not possible.”

Erin Abu-Rizeq, whose father is from Palestine, said she does not think moving the embassy was the cause of the protest, which turned deadly, at the Gaza border.

“It’s the conditions in Gaza that are so oppressive that people must resist and the resistance is met with gunfire,” Abu-Rizeq said.

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to cancel a planned trip to Israel. Cuomo postponed the trip after the violence at the Gaza border. Hawkins said he would put conditions on a visit: that Israel stop settlements in the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza and start respecting Palestinian human rights and negotiating a one or two-state solution. Hawkins called the killing of Palestinian protesters an unjustified massacre.

"Non-violent protesters should not be shot to death," Hawkins said. "If they climb over your wall, arrest them and prosecute them under your laws. Don't kill them. We don't shoot Mexicans or Central Americans trying to come into the United States. It's totally inexcusable to try to blame on Hamas in Gaza. These people are in an open-air prison.

A spokesperson for Cuomo said the governor will make a visit soon, when the active on-the-ground conflict at the Gaza border and in the Golan Heights area subsides.

Central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) both supported moving the embassy. Schumer said it was long overdue.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.