Chants of “From the river to the sea” echoed through the streets of New York City on Sunday as roughly 500 backers of the Palestinian cause, many clad in kaffiyehs, came out to celebrate Hamas’ recent attack on Israel.
“I have been coming out for decades in support of Palestine,” Anne Peurden, from Brooklyn, told The Media Line during the event. “We are not taking it anymore. Apartheid is unacceptable. It is a new day in this world.”
Since Hamas began its surprise assault on Israel on Saturday, more than 800 Israelis have been killed, more than 2,300 are wounded, and dozens have been kidnapped and held hostage in Gaza. Many of the victims and hostages are women and children.
According to the US State Department, at least nine Americans have been killed by Hamas, and many more are being held hostage. These numbers are expected to increase.
While the pro-Palestinian group chanted slogans such as “Resistance is justified when people are colonized,” and “There is only one solution, intifada revolution,” a smaller crowd of pro-Israel counterprotesters stood nearby, separated by a line of police officers.
Congressional candidate Marty Dolan was among the counterprotesters. Comparing Saturday’s attack on Israel to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, he criticized the pro-Palestinian group for holding a celebratory rally in the wake of hundreds of deaths.
“It shouldn’t happen, and it definitely shouldn’t happen today,” Dolan told The Media Line.
Dolan is running against Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the democratic primary for his district. Bowman is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, the group that planned the pro-Palestine rally.
Dolan denounced the violence ongoing in Israel, attributing it to an Iranian attempt to stop the normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Hamas, backed by Iran, is “killing women and children, civilians, blatantly, and it’s inexcusable, and we have to do anything we can to support Israel right away,” he said.
The two groups of protesters shouted at each other when the pro-Palestinian group set off on their march through New York City. One older woman yelled at them as they marched, calling them terrorists.
Addressing a roaring crowd, an unidentified speaker at the pro-Palestinian protest described the state of Israel as “the real terrorists.” “The media will tell you that yesterday terrorists invaded Israel, but we know that actually what happened is that the people of Palestine broke out of the open-air prison that they have been living in,” the speaker said.
The pro-Israel crowd waved Israeli flags and sang the national anthem.
An Israeli woman at the protest who asked not to be identified criticized supporters of the recent attack on Israel. “They are doing it in the name of freedom for Palestinians, when in fact it has nothing to do with the Palestinians,” she told The Media Line. “They are doing it because they want to destabilize any possibility of a stable Middle East with a growing faction of Arab countries and nations who have a greater interest now in supporting a stable Middle East with Israel, and it is being fueled by Iran and to a certain extent Russia, which we know.”
Raz Chen, an Israel Defense Forces veteran visiting New York wearing an olive drab shirt emblazoned with his unit’s logo also attended the pro-Israel counterprotest.
Chen called for Hamas to be “eradicated ASAP,” saying that the organization “just wants to kill and kidnap and create terror.” “We are here today to show support for families and brothers and sisters, while they support blood, they support murder,” he told The Media Line.
“Israel [has] survived worse things,” he continued. “The Jewish people survived, for thousands of years, worse horrors. We are going to survive this one. We are going to prevail, we are going to overcome, and we are going to create a safe Israel for the Jewish people all over the world.”