About 75 people gathered along the route many drivers took to park before Norfolk’s annual holiday kickoff event to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, the main area where a war between Israel and pro-Palestine militant group Hamas has gone on since the beginning of October.

Alamar Alyamaini is from Jordan and lives in Norfolk now. Her father is Jordanian-Palestinian; he lived in Palestine until he was forced out to another country.

As a 14-year-old in Norfolk, Alamar said she spends a lot of time thinking about children in Gaza.

“I'm so lucky to be learning here,” she said. “I'm so lucky to be talking to my friends, going home, having food on the table, seeing my mom. They don't get to experience that right now, they're probably under rubble. They can't do anything. They can't scream, they can't cry.”

Close to 15,000 people have died in the ongoing war. That includes at least 3,000 Palestinian children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas. Other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have confirmed the number from Hamas.

Photo by Zach D. Roberts 

Demonstrators in Norfolk called for a ceasefire in Gaza, which has been discussed by some Congressional representatives. 

“I just want Palestinians to be free. I want the occupation to end,” said Safaa Sourri. She’s been in Norfolk visiting family from California and has attended several events to show support for a ceasefire.

“I think just like everyone that's here, we want it to end. We want to end the killing of children, the killing of innocent civilians. We've had enough.”

Negotiations over a possible ceasefire that would allow people in Gaza to move about safely and for hostages to be handed over back to Israel is still in the works as of this weekend.

Photo by Zach D. Roberts
Photo by Zach D. Roberts

April Compton has brought her children to demonstrations in support of a ceasefire and Palestine for a few weeks now.

“We oppose what's going on between Israel and Palestine. A lot of people don't even recognize Palestine,” she said.

“And, you know, somebody's got to speak up for people that can't speak for themselves. And I think it's important to teach my kids that.”