The Palestinian flag was raised at city-owned Eaton Plaza in downtown Fresno on Friday. The ceremony came nearly two months after the raising of the Israeli flag in the same location, and followed weeks of complaints from community members who said the city was valuing the lives of Israelis over Palestinians in the Gaza conflict.
“My God does not make a distinction between the loss of an innocent Jewish life and the loss of an innocent Palestinian life, and neither shall our city” said Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias, who sponsored the event on behalf of community organizers.
“For any hurt that … was caused by the delayed flag-raising that has taken place today, I’m sorry if it has made you feel marginalized these past few weeks,” Arias said.
The Israeli flag-raising took place days after attacks by militants from Hamas-controlled Gaza killed nearly 1,200 people in Israeli border towns. Hamas also took approximately 240 hostages back to Gaza. Since then, Israel’s military response has resulted in more than 15,000 deaths in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to Gazan health officials. Israel’s military estimates that it has killed several thousand Hamas fighters.
Many in the large crowd on hand for the ceremony, including Arias, wore the symbolic Palestinian keffiyeh scarf. Several people also held signs supporting the Palestinian cause and waved Palestinian flags.
Yasir Amireh of the Palestinian Freedom Project, criticized Mayor Jerry Dyer for his comments at the Israeli flag-raising event, which he said, “let us down.” In criticizing Dyer, Amireh also challenged Israel’s legitimacy.
“(Dyer) called us criminals, un-American, and was just disrespectful as he was raising the flag of the illegal state of Israel.”