Droves of demonstrators gathered in Washington, DC on Tuesday for a “March for Israel” to show solidarity with Israel in its war with Hamas and condemn rising antisemitism.
Streets were closed around much of downtown amid heightened security, as people gathered in bright sunshine on the National Mall, many draped in Israeli and US flags.
“We are here to show the world that we won’t be exterminated again,” said Marco Abbou, 57, a personal trainer from Hackensack, New Jersey, who is originally from Israel.
Protests and public demonstrations — both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel — have rippled around the world since gunmen from the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, according to Israel, and taking about 240 hostages back to Gaza.
Israel responded with a military campaign of air strikes and ground operations against Hamas in Gaza, seeking to incapacitate the Iran-backed terror group’s leadership and military capabilities.
As well as protests, the conflict has sparked a rise in antisemitic incidents in the United States including violent assaults and online harassment, according to advocacy groups.
Organizers of Tuesday’s demonstration said they estimated 200,000 people were attending to show US support for Israel, demand the release of hostages, and condemn antisemitic violence and harassment.
The largest demonstration in Washington so far related to the conflict on Nov. 4 drew thousands who called for the US government, Israel‘s main backer, to call for a ceasefire.
“A ceasefire is a pause that would allow Hamas to rearm,” said Ariel Ben-Chitrit, 33, a federal government worker from Herndon, Virginia, who was carrying a blue and white Israeli flag at Tuesday’s protest.
Ben-Chitrit expressed regret that Palestinian civilians were suffering and Gaza hospitals being subjected to extreme conditions, but said the only way to end the conflict was to eliminate Hamas.
“Hamas has proven they are not interested in peace,” he said.
The terror group, which rules Gaza, has used hospitals and the civilians in them as “human shields” while fighting Israel.
The Biden administration has rebuffed calls for a ceasefire but has urged Israel to grant pauses in the fighting for civilians to move to safer locations and for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.
Underscoring support in the US Congress for Israel, busloads of senators and members of the House of Representatives attended the pro-Israel rally. Senator Charles Schumer, the Senate’s Democratic majority leader, and the highest-ranking Jewish elected US official, rescheduled his weekly press conference so he could attend.
Authorities ordered an increased police presence for the demonstration, the House of Representative’s Sergeant at Arms said in a notice on Monday, adding there was no specific threat but measures were being taken out of an abundance of caution.
Tuesday’s rally included Orthodox Jews wearing long black coats and black felt hats, gaggles of children, and self-described “progressive liberals” such as Erica Taxin, 56, a yoga studio owner from Philadelphia.
She said she disagreed with other progressives calling for a ceasefire.
“We can disagree about some of Israel’s policies. What I do disagree with is that this was terrorism,” she said of Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault.
The terrorists “didn’t just take hostages but killed children and peacemakers,” she said, referring to murdered Israeli activists who advocated peace with the Palestinians. “How does that have anything to do with social justice?”
Protester Sets Self on Fire Outside Israeli Consulate in Atlanta
i24 News – A protester was in critical condition on Friday after setting themself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. authorities said. A security guard who tried to intervene was also wounded.
A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said at a news conference. He added that investigators did not believe there was any connection to terrorism and none of the consular staff was ever in danger.
JUST IN: A pro-Palestine protester is in critical condition after they set themselves on fire in “political protest” outside of the Israeli Consulate office in Atlanta.
The protester was reportedly draped in a Palestine flag.
The protester has severe burns and unfortunately, a… pic.twitter.com/B8nUQAj2nU
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) December 1, 2023
“We do not see any threat here,” he said. “We believe it was an act of extreme political protest that occurred.” Everyone inside the consulate building was said to be safe.
Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the southeastern U.S., said: “We are saddened to learn of the self-immolation at the entrance to the office building. It is tragic to see the hate and incitement toward Israel expressed in such a horrific way.”
“The sanctity of life is our highest value. Our prayers are with the security officer who was injured while trying to prevent this tragic act. We are grateful to the city of Atlanta’s law enforcement and first responders for all they do to ensure safety.”
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Released Israeli Hostages Call for Captives to Be Freed
Israeli hostages released in the past week by Hamas in Gaza called on Saturday for the immediate release of fellow captives left behind, a day after a temporary truce that had allowed scores to come home broke down.
Tens of thousands gathered at a rally in Tel Aviv outside Israel‘s defense headquarters, where they cheered Yelena Trupanov, 50, standing on a stage just two days after being freed.
“I came to thank you because without you I wouldn’t be here. Now we must bring back my (son) Sasha, and everyone. Now.”
Similar pleas from other released hostages were shown on video.
A seven-day truce, during which Hamas had released more than 100 hostages, collapsed on Friday after Hamas breached the ceasefire.
Israel said on Saturday it had recalled a Mossad intelligence agency team from Qatar, host of indirect negotiations with Hamas, accusing the Palestinian faction of reneging on a deal that would have freed all children and women held hostage.
More than 240 people – Israelis and foreign nationals – were abducted to Gaza on Oct 7. by Hamas terrorists who burst through the border with Israel and killed 1,200 people.
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IDF Foils Stabbing Attack Near Nablus in West Bank, Eliminates Terrorist
i24 News – The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported thwarting a stabbing attack on Saturday afternoon against reserve Battalion 7037 at the X junction near Nablus in the West Bank.
According to the IDF spokesperson, the event unfolded when the forces at the roadblock became suspicious of an individual approaching the barricade.
During the questioning process, the suspect suddenly drew a knife and advanced towards the IDF personnel.
ניסיון פיגוע דקירה אירע לפני זמן קצר לעבר כוח צה”ל במילואים מגדוד 7037 שפעל בחסם בצומת האיקס סמוך לעיר שכם שבמרחב חטיבת שומרון.
הכוח חשד במחבל שהגיע לחסם והחל לתחקר אותו, המחבל שלף סכין והחל להתקדם לעבר הכוח.
הלוחמים חתרו למגע והגיבו בירי לעבר המחבל שחוסל. אין נפגעים לכוחותינו. pic.twitter.com/mEaJs58hpE
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) December 2, 2023
The soldiers, faced with the threat, engaged in contact procedures and ultimately responded by opening fire on the assailant. The spokesperson confirmed that the attacker was neutralized due to the IDF’s action.
It was also noted that there were no casualties among the IDF forces involved in the incident. According to the spokesperson, the situation at the X junction has stabilized, and IDF continues to maintain vigilance in the area to prevent further attacks.
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