Weeks after militants from the Palestinian organization Hamas infiltrated southern Israel on Oct. 7, war rages on in the Gaza strip.
The attacks by Hamas killed at least 1,033 Israeli civilians, prompting a round of condemnations throughout the world. In response, the Israeli Air Force launched a series of reprisal attacks on alleged Hamas targets in Gaza.
According to the Health Ministry of Gaza, at least 7,000 Palestinians have died as a result of these strikes, most of them being women and children. The Israeli Defense Forces have also issued evacuation orders for northern Gaza, requesting that civilians move to the southern end of the strip due to ongoing military operations.
Israel’s heavy-handed response to the Oct. 7 attacks has been met with criticism, with some countries, such as Pakistan, equating it to an act of genocide.
Several rallies in support of the Palestinian cause took place in Columbus over the past few weeks, the vast majority of them organized by the Students for Justice in Palestine. Other organizations, including the local Communist Party branch, also participated in these demonstrations.
“There’s a lot of history with regards to support for Palestine and opposition to Zionism,” said Scott, an organizer with the Communist Party of the United States. “There’s a little bit more red tape involved… it’s a little bit more serious.”
Scott notes that organizations have been targeted by the government in the past for supporting Palestine, often being accused of supporting terrorism. At one of the recent State House rallies, Scott recalls receiving a notification warning of an increased threat level in the area, a matter which many of the participants were unprepared for.
Rallies such as these also face obstacles in the form of counter-protestors, though Scott has said that their presence in these rallies were generally minimal, with a police barricade separating them from the protestors.
However, in one incident, a truck driver swerved into the rally, injuring one protestor.
“He was screaming pro-Zionist things, anti-Palestinian things,” said Scott. “I do believe he was ideologically motivated.”
According to the Columbus Police Department, a suspect has been taken into custody, though no criminal charges have been filed as of yet.
Despite the incident, Scott notes that many of Columbus’s leftist organizations have robust infrastructure in place to ensure that participants in the city’s demonstrations remain safe.
“We have bike units that block traffic, we have people that give out water and snacks, we have medics on-hand, all the time, for all of our protests,” Scott explained. “There’s a lot that goes into organizing these things to make sure that people stay safe and are able to participate in political action and make their voice heard.”
For many in the Communist Party, providing opportunities for marginalized groups to make their voice heard is an important aspect of their mission.
“We do not believe that anyone can be truly free until everyone is truly free, to quote the lyrics of ‘The Internationale.’ Freedom is merely privilege extended unless enjoyed by one and all,” said Scott. “We take that really personally, especially because our leadership consists of marginalized people… it’s really important to understand and express that struggle.”
With a ceasefire unlikely to come to fruition in the near future, the total human cost of the war remains to be seen.