Some 200 people gathered outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv on a sweltering Friday afternoon to demand gun control and a ban on assault weapons, accompanied by three Jewish teenage survivors of the shooting at the Parkland, Florida, high school last month in which 17 people were killed.
The survivors of the massacre stood on a bench overlooking the sea and recounted the harrowing nightmare.
“We were in English I Honors and I was sitting beside my good friend, Alyssa [Alhadeff],” Eden Hebron, 15, said. “We heard a noise but I refused to believe there was a shooting in my school in Parkland. Our door was shot through. I noticed glass in front of me... I looked at Alyssa some five inches away and she screamed before going silent.”
Adding that she would now fight on behalf of Alhadeff, Hebron said, “I miss my friends more every day.”
Her older sister, Maia Hebron, 18, clutched a handwritten speech as she asked: “How can it be that this keeps happening?”
And a third survivor, Dani Tylim, 18, declared: “It shouldn’t take my high school’s mass shooting to stop this.”
The three teenage girls were all visiting family on spring break; Eden and Maia’s father is Israeli.
Five of the slain at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were Jewish. Since the shooting, students from that school have been at the forefront of demanding legislative change in Florida and in the media.
Tel Aviv’s event is one of 800 planned worldwide in support of a Washington, DC, rally of “March for Our Lives” taking place this weekend.
Much of the crowd – youngsters on Jewish gap year programs – wore crimson shirts with the logo “MSD Strong.” They chanted, “Enough is enough” and hoisted signs listing all the US gun massacres of the past decade.
Marni Mandell organized the rally with Pantsuit Nation Israel – a group of 1,500 Americans in Israel founded to support Hillary Clinton’s presidential run – along with Democrats Abroad-Israel.
Mandell compared Israel’s stringent requirements for getting a firearm to America’s free-wheeling gun culture, adding that some 40% of Israeli applicants are turned down.
Her colleague, chairwoman of Democrats Abroad-Israel Heather Stone, belted out: “We’re here because our kids have pushed us to say – ‘Enough is enough.’”
Earlier in the day, protesters converged on the American-flavored Mike’s Place bar to meet and draft posters.
And next to the rally, activists stood with placards and information on how to register in the US to vote from abroad.
Democratic Rep. Ted Deutsch of Florida, whose district includes Parkland, wrote a letter that was read aloud at the rally.
“We are not settling for thoughts and prayers after this tragedy... I am proud that the United States stands with Israel, and today I am so grateful that Israel is standing with Stoneman Douglas High School, with Parkland and with America,” he wrote.
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