Group pushes city council members to call for cease-fire in Israel-Hamas war

Group pushes city council members to call for cease-fire in Israel-Hamas war

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Pro-Palestinian demonstrators staged a sit-in at a Rochester City Council meeting on Tuesday night, pushing city council members to sign a resolution calling for a cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

City council discussed the resolution, introduced by council member Stanley Martin. A number of members agreed to sign with positive reaction from the people in attendance.

The resolution calls on the U.S. to back the United Nations resolution for a permanent cease-fire to stop the killing of Palestinians and work to end the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“Staying here until midnight to demand justice, to demand an end to genocide, to demand an end to apartheid, and having council members who say ‘no, we’re not gonna listen to you’,” Martin said.

Not all city council members agreed to sign. Some council members spoke on claims that the language is antisemitic. Council member Mitch Gruber says he strongly disagrees that the language is antisemitic but did not co-sponsor the resolution.

“Every council member can choose to do what they want to do,” Gruber said. “But I think it’s very important to be clear, as the lone Jewish person on council, that I do not think what council member Martin put forward is in a bit, if there’s a shred of antisemitism in there. And I don’t think there was ever an intent of there to be antisemitism.”

The demonstration lasted past midnight and peacefully disbanded with no police interaction. Here’s what demonstrators outside city hall said about city council’s response to the resolution.

“They have refused communication with all advocates at this point. They are not speaking with their constituencies,” said Jonathan Khoury of the Rochester Committee to End Apartheid.

“They’ve made it clear their position and we’ve decided as a community we’re going to gather ourselves and we’re gonna head home. But we’re coming back and we’re going to make sure we’re going to continue advocating for a ceasefire,” said Halima Aweis from the Rochester Committee to End Apartheid.

The head of Israel’s intelligence service arrived in Qatar over the weekend to resume talks on a potential cease-fire and hostage exchange.