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Protesters: Stop the fighting, stop making ammunitions

At the gate of the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant on Sunday, close to 200 protesters of all ages called for the plant to stop operations and for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

People demonstrating in President Joe Biden's hometown demanded that he stop Israel from bombing Gaza.

“It’s the worst thing ever. How America could let this happen?" said Farouk Abed-Rabbo.

Abed-Rabbo's niece and her three children were killed in Gaza.

“Whole house went down on them ... Until now we don't even know who's living or who's dead," said Abed-Rabbo, who was born and educated in Jerusalem and now lives in Moscow.

He joined the protest to stand with the people of Gaza and to be their voice locally.

Farouk Abed-Rabbo, left, joins a member of Veterans for Peace at the Rally for Palestine outside the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant.
Aimee Dilger
Farouk Abed-Rabbo, left, joins a member of Veterans for Peace at the Rally for Palestine outside the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant.

On Oct. 7, the militant group Hamas, an Islamist political and military organization who governs the Gaza Strip of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, attacked Israel. Since then, with support from the United States, Israel has retaliated.

The Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in the city's downtown makes 155mm artillery shells used in many field guns and howitzers. The U.S. is providing that type of ammunition to both Ukraine and Israel. Whether or not the shells that are made in Scranton end up in the Middle East is unclear. WVIA News reached out to the U.S. Department of Defense but did not hear back.

Jack Gilroy is a Carbondale native and member of Veterans for Peace.

"Gaza is about as wide as it is from here to Dunmore," he told the crowd. "It's about as long as a marathon."

The United States is violating the Leahy Law by sending the ammunition to Israel, said Gilroy. The law prohibits the U.S. from funding foreign security forces that are in violation of human rights.

Gilroy and the director of Veterans for Peace, Mike Ferner, laid in front of the gate of the plant as protesters circled around them.

Some waved Palestinian flags. Others carried signs showing the devastation in Gaza. Protesters wore white masks and held bundles representing the more than 5,000 children who have reportedly died since the war began. Mohrasvid Umar, the Imam at the Islamic Center of Scranton, offered a prayer from the Quran.

Ariel Gold is executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest interfaith peace organization. She is the first Jewish leader of the organization and joined the protest from New Jersey.

“We are calling for an immediate ceasefire, for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, for all hostages to be released and for the U.S. to stop funding Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people," she said.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.

You can email Kat at katbolus@wvia.org