Ahmed, still clad in the blue dress shirt he wore to work, stood at the base of the Granada Bridge on Friday, Oct. 13, holding up a sign showing the photograph of a man mourning a child killed during a recent Israeli strike in Gaza.
"Any civilian casualties should be avoided, but nobody is talking about what happened before this incident," Ahmed said. "This is just a drop in the ocean, actually. This has been going on for 75 years."
Palestinian people are Jews, Christians and Muslims, said Ahmed, who asked to be referred to only by his first name. He said it's hard for some people in the U.S. to sympathize with Palestinians, but that he joined the demonstration to call for an end of suffering for Palestinians as well as fair news coverage.
Ahmed was joined by more than 10 others — from Palm Coast, Ormond Beach and Daytona.
"We want the war in Gaza to stop," Ahmed said. "... The narrative is twisted. It makes you not hopeful, but we are hopeful. We don't expect the change to be today."
Nasry Michelen was among the locals who joined the protest. His family is from Bethlehem, a city in the West Bank.
"My wife drove by a little while ago, and she goes, 'Oh, look your brothers are out there,'" Michelen said.
Michelen's wife is Jewish. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about antisemitism, he said, and the Palestinian voice is not one that is heard very often.
The strikes on Gaza have worsened the living conditions for Palestinians, with families running out of food and water, Michelen said. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reports almost 1,900 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza from Israeli strikes. At least 1,300 people in Israel were killed by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, during an attack on Saturday, Oct. 7. Israel formally declared war on Sunday, Oct. 8.
People protested on the Granada Bridge on Monday, Oct. 9, in support of Israel, and on Tuesday, Oct. 10, the Jewish Federation of Volusia and Flagler Counties held a vigil at Temple Beth El to help raise funds to send humanitarian aid to Israel.
"There's a lot of confusion as Palestinians being terrorists today, but the fact we've been living with this every single day for 50, 70 years to say the least, and the injustice is just too much to take, quite honestly," Michelen said. "... Palestinian children die every day."