Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters have gathered on the streets of Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other U.S. cities, demanding an end to deadly Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
On Saturday, in Los Angeles, protesters were signaling that “free Palestine” stopped traffic on a main road, while in New York, huge crowds marched through Brooklyn, singing “Free and Free Palestine” and “From the River at sea, Palestine will be free. “
“I’m here because I want a Palestinian life to be the same as an Israeli life and not today,” said Emraan Khan, a 35-year-old corporate strategist in Manhattan, while waving a Palestinian flag at a protest in Brooklyn.
“When one has a state with nuclear weapons and another state of villagers with rocks, it is clear who is to blame,” he added.
Alison Zambrano, a 20-year-old student who had traveled from neighboring Connecticut for the demonstration, said “Palestinians have the right to live freely and that children should not be killed in Gaza,” while Mashhour Ahmad , a 73-year-old Palestinian, urged U.S. President Joe Biden to “stop supporting the assassination.”
“To support the victims, stop the oppression,” said Ahmad, who described as “genocide” the violence committed by the Israeli military against the Palestinians.
Protesters were angered by six days of violence that left at least 145 Palestinians dead in Gaza and 10 dead on the Israeli side.
Hours before the marches, Israel had intensified its assault on Gaza, killing a family of ten in a refugee camp and flattening a building that houses the offices of Al Jazeera and The Associated Press.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders showed no sign of backing down, however, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledging to continue the offensive in Gaza for “the necessary time,” while Hamas leader Ismail Haniya , he said, “the resistance will not yield.”
Marches in the U.S. also coincided with Nakba Day, or what Palestinians call the Catastrophe, which commemorates the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the midst of Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence.
In San Francisco, a large crowd clashed with drums and shouted that “Palestine will be free,” while similar scenes were performed in Boston as protesters marched toward the Israeli consulate in New England, blocking traffic.
Videos on social media showed protesters unfurling a banner with the colors of the Palestinian flag with the words “Free Palestine” as they stood on the awning of the building where the consulate is located.
In Washington, DC, thousands of protesters marched from the Washington Monument and the National Archives, while in the city of Philadelphia, protesters filled Rittenhouse Square to denounce U.S. support for Israel.
Meanwhile, a speaker at a rally in the city of Pittsburgh called on U.S. lawmakers to impose restrictions on how Israel can spend Washington aid.
John Hendren, of Al Jazeera, a Washington, DC reporter, described Saturday’s rallies in support of the Palestinian cause as “unusually large.”
“The protesters wanted the US government to put more pressure on Israel to end this conflict,” Hendren said.
“There was a real sense of dissatisfaction that the policies of the Biden administration really aren’t significantly different from the policies of the Trump administration or any other U.S. administration in recent years.”
Amid violence and rallies, Biden called on Netanyahu on Saturday and reaffirmed his “firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.”
The U.S. leader also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Abbas and “conveyed the commitment to strengthen the partnership between the United States and Palestine,” the White House added in a tweet.
Phyllis Bennis, a political analyst at the U.S.-based Institute for Political Studies, expressed concern about Biden’s failure to “pressure Israel to stop this massacre in Gaza.”
“This is a very familiar situation in which the United States seems to be taking the lead in Israel when they are ready for a ceasefire. And Netanyahu has made it clear that he is not ready for a ceasefire.” , he told Al Jazeera. U.S. policy, therefore, said it was “quite dangerous.”