NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As the Israel-Hamas war intensifies one week after the initial attacks, pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters gathered in downtown Nashville in what became a heated debate.
The protest on Saturday, Oct. 14 started with roughly a dozen protesters supporting the Palestinians, but it quickly grew into several hundred. Several people supporting the Israelis also showed up to counter-protest, sharing heartbreaking stories of relatives currently overseas among the violence.
“This is supposed to be a retaliation against propaganda and against media trying to play this narrative that all of this started October 10th, and trying to ignore all the context related to the 75-plus years of not only occupation, but ethnic cleansing and genocide,” explained Fatehiya, who helped organize the pro-Palestine protest.
From the other side of the Federal Building entrance in downtown Nashville, Tomer Minuskin, among other pro-Israel protesters, described gruesome details of violence from the Hamas attacks.
“On the seventh of this month, Israel was attacked by a bunch of monsters. They butchered kids, babies, mothers, and the elderly,” Minuskin said. “Both my parents, my mother and my father have been in shelters since the seventh of this month. They cannot leave their houses because we still have terrorists that are outside and trying to hunt Israelis.”
The pro-Palestine protest organizers spoke with News 2 about their feelings on Hamas, which they emphasized was a militant group independent from their government.
“Palestine does not have much power, generally, and if they had to turn to someone, even if they don’t have to agree with everything that they say, Hamas maybe doing these things, but they’re helping a resistance, and they’re the only person, they’re the only military group with the manpower to do so,” Fatehiya told News 2.
Tensions grew throughout downtown. Meanwhile, members of the Metro Nashville Police Department continued to pivot as protesters made their way through the streets and ended at Legislative Plaza.
“The same way y’all are condemning Hamas for his actions, Israel should be condemned for their 75-plus years of action,” said Fofo with the protesters supporting Palestine.
As Israel’s army prepares to take further action in Gaza, Saturday’s rally highlighted that there is no easy or quick resolve to this deep-seated conflict.
“We’re trying to free Gaza from Hamas. Once Hamas is going to be out of Gaza, the Arabs that live over there are going to have democracy and freedom,” Minuskin added.