Sarah Hazimi of Dearborn holds up a 'Free Palestine' sign on in front of the Dearborn City Hall in Dearborn. (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)
Chanting and carrying flags, dozens of people gathered in front of Dearborn City Hall on Thursday to support Palestinians, denounce the ongoing unrest and call for an end to the Israeli occupation.
“The aim is to bring about the news of the Palestinian suffering,” said Abbas Hamideh, national chairman of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, a California-based nonprofit that organized the event. “We want to bring death to light.”
His group has coordinated ongoing demonstrations to raise awareness of Palestinian refugees, but the latest gained more urgency after a spate of violence has rocked the Middle East.
The rally came a day after 1,000 people gathered Wednesday in Farmington Hills for a memorial for three Israeli teenagers abducted in the West Bank on June 12 and found slain early this week.
The Israeli military rushed additional forces to its southern border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday, vowing to halt a growing wave of rocket fire from the Palestinian territory, while new clashes erupted in east Jerusalem in response to the death of an Arab boy who Palestinians say was killed by Israeli extremists.
Tensions have been high since the teenagers were kidnapped, sparking a massive manhunt that ended with the discovery of their bodies early this week. Israel has blamed Hamas for the abductions and launched a crackdown on the Islamic militant group in the West Bank, drawing rocket attacks out of Gaza and Israeli airstrikes in a near-daily cycle of retaliation.
The situation deteriorated further on Wednesday after the burned body of a Palestinian youth, whose identity was confirmed Thursday as Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was found in a forest after he was seized near his home in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians accused Israeli extremists of killing the teen in a revenge attack over the deaths of the Israeli youths.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried Thursday to calm the situation, condemning Abu Khdeir’s killing and vowing to find the attackers.
Israel has blamed Hamas for the deaths of the three teenagers. Hamas has praised the abduction, but has denied responsibility.
Demonstrators in Dearborn on Thursday said regardless of which side is blamed, the escalating violence harms those in the Mideast and here.
“All this turmoil is very disheartening,” said Abbas Bazzy, a Dearborn resident who attended the demonstration. “It’s hurtful.”
The Associated Press contributed.