As Georgetown students walk through Red Square, they are normally greeted by protesters handing out flyers and petitions. Yesterday, however, students encountered 30 bodies lying down on the cement among an array of red and white roses.

Attached to the students were signs with the names and ages of Palestinian children who were killed due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The demonstrators, the majority of whom are enrolled in the Master of Arts in Arab Studies program, were conducting a “die-in” to represent the lives lost in the current conflict between Israel and Palestine.

“We are holding the demonstration as a statement of solidarity for the people in Gaza who have been under attack and suffering from the Israeli blockade for years. We want to raise awareness among the community about this suffering,” Olivia Moseley (GRD ’09), who helped organize the demonstration, said.

Prior to the die-in in Red Square, the students participating in the protest gathered in a meeting, during which Moseley instructed all to refrain from speaking, moving excessively or text messaging. She also explained that the purpose of the die-in is two-fold: to symbolize the death of innocent civilians and to force students to physically step around the bodies.

Lucy Thiboutot (GRD ’09), one of the participants, said that she is not taking sides and is protesting what she views as a “humanitarian crime.”

“The problem is a general American misunderstanding. America has a view that demonizes one group. People don’t want to look at the situation as a set of facts,” she said. “[Americans] identify themselves with one group or another. Because we are in the Arab Studies program, we have a lot of information.”

Renewed conflict between Palestine and Israel began on Dec. 27 when, following Hamas rocket attacks, Israel launched an air assault on Hamas targets. According to The New York Times, the death toll of Palestinians has now reached 1,076.

The protestors distributed flyers containing statistics on the conflict, including the number of people killed, injured and forced to flee their homes, as well as contact information for elected officials and organizations such as the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jews Against the Occupation.

The demonstration stressed a message of non-violence in the Middle East, according to both protesters and on-lookers.

“I was in the south of Israel last spring break when random rocket fire forced us to leave,” David Lamb (COL ’09) said. “I guess I saw the other side of it. In the end I hope the conflict is resolved peacefully.”

Although not organized or sponsored by the Students for Justice in Palestine, Wan Muhamad Nazhif (SFS ’12), a member of the group, said that this die-in brought attention to the problems overseas.

“I think [the protest] is a great testament to the violence done by the Israeli Defense Forces against the Palestinian people,” Nazhif said. “Hopefully this will draw attention to the price that the Palestinian people pay.”

Ariell Zimran (SFS ’10), president of the Georgetown Israeli Alliance, said that he thinks that Israel has acted responsibly in the Gaza conflict.

“The Israel Defense Forces go to great lengths to minimize civilian casualties by informing civilians in Gaza of impending attacks via leaflets, text messages and voice messages and directing them to safe areas, access to which is often impeded by Hamas militants,” Zimran said. “The current humanitarian situation in Gaza is a product of Hamas’ disregard for the safety of its own populace.”

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