25-mile march for Palestinians from Northampton to Springfield set for Sunday

Palestinians flee the Israeli ground offensive in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Wednesday. A coalition of groups in the Pioneer Valley will host a 25-mile march from Northampton to Springfield — the length of the Gaza Strip — to demand a permanent cease-fire.

Palestinians flee the Israeli ground offensive in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Wednesday. A coalition of groups in the Pioneer Valley will host a 25-mile march from Northampton to Springfield — the length of the Gaza Strip — to demand a permanent cease-fire. AP

By EMILEE KLEIN

Staff Writer

Published: 12-06-2023 6:18 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Palestinian advocates will march 25 miles — the length of the Gaza Strip — from Northampton to Springfield on Sunday to demand Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey call for a permanent cease-fire.

The 12-hour event, expected to draw at least 150 people, starts in Northampton at 6 a.m. and includes stops in Easthampton, Holyoke and West Springfield before culminating in a vigil outside of the Springfield offices of Warren and Markey.

The march will take time to rally in Holyoke and light candles in West Springfield for Jews celebrating Hanukkah.

Organizers say the walk will be the most ambitious and visible action of the more than 40 protests in the Pioneer Valley since Israel’s bombardment of Gaza began on Oct. 7.

“It’s gonna be a really powerful experience. The symbolism of walking the length of Gaza is both an act of embodied solidarity with Palestinian people who are experiencing this unspeakable violence,” event organizer Molly Aronson said.

Aronson added the march serves as a tribute to Palestinians who were ordered by Israel to evacuate their homes in northern Gaza and migrate south. Since Oct. 7, over 1.8 million Palestinians have left their homes to escape Israel’s attacks on the area.

“Our hope is that this march is casting a wide net for all people who are looking for a cease-fire in this war, and in our marching we are not only sending a powerful message to our senators but we are also taking care of each other for this march,” she said. “We’re showing Palestinian people that the world is not turning their backs on them.”

The march route includes stops for snacks, bathroom breaks and relaxing. Those interested in the event do not need to walk the entire 25 miles, but rather may choose between walking a portion, meeting protesters at one of the stops, offering rides or tuning-in virtually.

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A coalition of Palestinian liberation organizations consisting of Jewish Voice for Peace Western Mass, Existence is Resistance, Within Our Lifetime, Western Massachusetts Coalition for Palestine, and Demilitarize Western Mass organized the event together.

Kaia Jackson, a Jewish Voices for Peace representative in the Western Mass Colation for Palestine came up with this idea while daydreaming in a big armchair. She reminisced about her desire to walk with Palestinians right now, and realized all she had to do was start walking.

“It’s an invitation to be with each other in our shared grief, rage and hope,” Jackson said. “I think to be walking in community with this shared destination of justice and freedom is a gift to be able to do that.”

Whether walking one mile or all 25 miles, organizers ask interested people to RSVP in order receive a detailed map of the route and coordinate rides from Springfield back to Northampton. Aronson said people can participate without submitting a response on their website, but these marchers won’t have a ride back.

“The overarching message is this is an act of love for people near and far, for community members of diverse identities, Palestinians who are in harm’s way right now and for Jews as well,” Jackson said.

Emilee Klein can be reached at eklein@gazettenet.com.