In DC and Rafah, people fly kites to memorialize those killed in Gaza and call for cease-fire

Layne Mullett
Director of Media Relations


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Washington, D.C. (March 27, 2024) – In Washington, DC on March 30, people will fly kites in memory of the 32,000 people killed in Gaza. The kites reference a poem by Palestinian poet and professor Refaat Alareer, who was killed in Gaza when the Israeli government bombed his sister’s home in December of 2023.

This event will echo an event to be held on March 28 in Gaza, on the Rafah beach, where children and families will fly kites to honor the 15,000+ children killed by the Israeli military. The events are being organized by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker peace and justice group with programs in the U.S., in Gaza, and many other locations around the world. In DC, the kite-flying event will take place during the Blossom Kite Festival.

What:  “Kites for Gaza” events in Rafah and Washington DC

Why:    Gaza is currently witnessing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. This event will help raise awareness of the ongoing genocide and the urgent need for a permanent cease-fire and full humanitarian access.

Who:    The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and supporters and community members in DC, and children and families in Gaza

When: In Gaza: Thursday March 28; In Washington DC: Saturday, March 30 (rain date March 31), 10am – 2pm EST

Where:  In Gaza: Rafah beach; In Washington, DC: The Blossom Kite Festival, Washington Monument Grounds, SE corner of 17th and Constitution Ave

Flying kites in Gaza has been a tradition for children and a symbol of hope and resilience for decades. In 2011, more than 12,000 children in Gaza flew kites on the beach, setting a new world record for the most kites flown simultaneously. Devastatingly, more than 15,000 children have been killed in the first five months of Israel’s military campaign.

“We in Gaza have decided to participate in a manner that honors the memory of the 15,000 innocent children’s lives lost in the ongoing conflict,” said Firas Ramlawi, manager of AFSC’s Gaza office. “This activity, set against the backdrop of tents that have become a temporary home for many, aims to send a poignant message to the world. Through the simple act of flying kites, we intend to symbolize of the children whose lives were tragically cut short.”

In Washington, DC, AFSC and supporters will be at the Blossom Kite Festival, where they will fill the sky with kites in solidarity with Palestine. Among the hundreds of kites flown, they will fly 44 white kites to honor the 44 years Refaat Alareer lived before being killed by an Israeli airstrike.

Refaat Alareer was a longtime friend of AFSC and a contributor to AFSC’s anthology Light in Gaza (2022). He was also the co-editor of Gaza Unsilenced (2015) and editor of and a contributor to Gaza Writes Back (2014). Before Refaat was killed, he posted a poem on social media called “If I Must Die”:

If I must die, 

you must live 

to tell my story 

to sell my things 

to buy a piece of cloth 

and some strings, 

(make it white with a long tail) 

so that a child, somewhere in Gaza 

while looking heaven in the eye 

awaiting his dad who left in a blaze— 

and bid no one farewell 

not even to his flesh 

not even to himself— 

sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above 

and thinks for a moment an angel is there 

bringing back love 

If I must die 

let it bring hope 

let it be a tale

At the Blosom Kite Festival, participants will have the chance to write messages of hope on red, green, and white ribbons and attach them to an art installation honoring the poem, constructed by a group of local D.C. artists.

“Even before Israel’s war on Gaza, Palestinians were forcibly separated from the world and from one another,” said Joyce Ajlouny, General Secretary for AFSC. “With these kites in DC and on the beach in Rafah, the wind will connect us. Our kites will soar together in the same skies and the winds will carry the spirits of those killed and the pained voices of all in Gaza, reminding us to persist in our actions until justice and peace are attained. 

The American Friends Service Committee has been supporting humanitarian efforts in Gaza since 1948 and currently has staff in Gaza, Ramallah, and Jerusalem, as well as in Jordan. Since late December, AFSC staff in Gaza have been serving hot meals from an open-air kitchen to displaced people living outside of shelters. Since October, AFSC’s team in Gaza has provided aid to more than 360,000 people – providing families with water, food parcels, fresh vegetables, and hygiene kits – and has hosted recreational activities for children.

You can find more information about the event here.


The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions. We work with people and partners worldwide, of all faiths and backgrounds, to meet urgent community needs, challenge injustice, and build peace.