Hundreds gather at state Capitol calling for cease-fire in Gaza


OLYMPIA — On a drizzly day in Olympia, hundreds of people gathered on the Capitol steps and called on state legislators to take action supporting peace in Gaza.

Palestinian and Israeli flags were placed in the Capitol lawn, each representing a child killed in Gaza and Israel. Since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, more than 10,000 Palestinian children and several Israeli children have been killed, according to officials.

Overall, more than 1,400 people in Israel and 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war.

"I'm here for the children. I'm here because I care," people shouted in the crowd.

The event was the first advocacy day held in Olympia by the Washington Coalition for Peace and Justice, a group made up of Palestinian Americans and 39 organizations across the state representing different religions and identities.

"We came to Olympia to advocate for our rights to be safe, to speak freely and to raise awareness about how the genocide in Gaza has direct effects on our communities in Washington," said Maher Joudi, an organizer for the coalition.

Just hours before the rally was held, the United States vetoed a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza at the United Nations.

"It is more important than ever for us to call for humanity and an immediate and permanent cease-fire in Gaza to prevent further violence," Bothell City Councilmember Rami Al-Kabra said in a speech at the rally.

Cindy and Craig Corrie were among the speakers at the rally. Their daughter Rachel Corrie, who was born and raised in Olympia, was killed over 20 years ago in Rafah, a city in Gaza, while protesting the demolitions of Palestinian homes.

Since then, they have dedicated themselves to continuing her legacy of promoting peace and justice around the world.

"How many more children," Cindy Corrie said in an interview. "How many more people, how much more destruction do we have to see?"

According to the Corries, the war happening abroad impacts people in the United States due to rising hate crimes, anti-Arab rhetoric, Islamophobia, and antisemitism.

Advocates in Olympia called for an immediate long-term cease-fire, ending the siege and blockade on Gaza to allow access for humanitarian aid, securing the release of Palestinian and Israeli hostages, stopping U.S. military aid to Israel funded with taxpayer dollars, and pursuing diplomatic solutions for peace, freedom, equality and justice, among other demands.

"Overwhelmingly across the country, this is what we have been asking for," writer and speaker Ijeoma Oluo said in a speech at the rally. "We have been ignored, we have been called extreme."