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Pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators face off on Manhattan streets following Hamas attack on Israel

(New York Jewish Week) — As Israel continued to clear the Gaza border area of Hamas attackers, and came to grips with an attack that killed 700 people, hundreds of people came to rally in support of the country outside the United Nations on Sunday afternoon.

But for at least one demonstrator, the focus wasn’t on decrying what happened, but making sure to support Israel if it gets criticized for its response to the violence.

“We’re here to show support for Israel which has been attacked in the most savage way by Hamas terrorists,” said Ofer Jacobowitz, who holds both U.S. and Israeli citizenship and has lived in the United States since he was a child. “Israel needs all the support they can get. As soon as it retaliates for what happens and tries to end the Hamas terror, it will be demonized in the media.”

Israel has declared war following the outbreak of bloodshed, and — judging by another rally just blocks away — Jacobowitz’s concern was not unfounded. At Times Square, hundreds of demonstrators staged their own gathering to condemn Israel.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” one chant at the Times Square rally went. “New York City you will see, Palestine will be free.”

The rallies, just blocks apart in the heart of New York City, came one day after a major attack by Hamas on Israel and resulted in multiple showdowns between demonstrators, including a shouting match across 42nd Street as police stood in the middle of the road to maintain their distance.

The rallies reflected the depth of emotion felt by New Yorkers in the wake of the attack, which left hundreds of Israelis dead, thousands wounded and 100 taken captive to Gaza. Israeli officials have promised an extended campaign in Gaza, the territory that Hamas controls.

Organized by an array of far-left groups including the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the Times Square rally drew condemnation from elected officials, including Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Gov. Kathy Hochul, who called it “abhorrent and morally repugnant.”

One organizer who did not share their name called the violence in Israel a “great escalation of a historic struggle” and “not a terrorist attack,” but instead a manifestation of Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

Irene Siegel, who carried a sign identifying herself as a Jewish supporter of the movement to boycott Israel, said she had been “horrified” by what happened in Israel — just as she had been for a long time about what was happening to Palestinians. She said she had come to the protest out of concern about Israel’s response to the onslaught.

“Palestinians really need people to stand with them right now,” she said. “It’s a really easy moment for militarist rhetoric and escalations around support for Israeli militarism.”

The rally near the United Nations was called by the group End Jew Hatred. (A separate rally held by UnXeptable, the protest movement of Israelis in the United States, took place 40 blocks south around the same time.)

The two constituencies clashed multiple times. Supporters of Israel jeered at the pro-Palestinian rally and sought to drown out its chants by singing “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, loudly from across the street.

Later, pro-Palestinian demonstrators approached the people who had come to the End Jew Hatred rally, screaming, “Hey hey, ho ho, Israel has got to go” from one side of the street while people waving Israeli flags on the other side screamed chants including, “Israel is peace.”

The pro-Palestinian rally had been promoted by New York City’s chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which has long taken anti-Israel stances including asking City Council candidates whether they would commit not to traveling to Israel.

Some in attendance said they supported socialism but opposed Hamas’ attack on Israelis and had come to make sure their perspectives were represented.

“Can we ever condone civilian targets? Never,” said Lea Sherman, a Socialist Workers Party candidate for New Jersey’s General Assembly. “Socialists are opposed to antisemitism and Jew hatred. This has nothing to do with socialism.”

Hannah Simpson, a writer and activist on transgender issues who is Jewish, came to Times Square waving a rainbow Israeli flag.

“I was tremendously dismayed when I saw that the Democratic Socialists of America had co-sponsored the Palestine rally today,” she said. “It baffles me when I think of Hamas as being neither democratic nor socialist, nor anything but reprehensible, especially to members of the LGBT community within the Gaza Strip.”

Simpson added, “I think it’s important to show that New York is not letting this go unanswered.”

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Kyiv Rejects Putin’s ‘Absurd Ultimatum’ to End War

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

i24 NewsRussia’s strongman President Vladimir Putin said he would end the war in Ukraine only if Kyiv agreed to drop its NATO ambitions and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow. Kyiv swiftly rejected the demands as tantamount to surrender.

Putin demands that Ukraine transfers to Russia four regions, including a 300,000 city of Kherson and 700,000 Zaporizhzhya as a “precondition” to “peace talks”. This man is delusional, and those in the West who speak of “negotiations” or “cease fire” are enemies of the free world.

— Sergej Sumlenny, LL.M (@sumlenny) June 14, 2024

“The conditions are very simple,” Putin said, listing them as the full withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the entire territory of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Putin’s maximalist conditions apparently reflect Moscow’s growing confidence that its forces have the upper hand in the war.

He restated his demand for Ukraine’s demilitarization and said an end to Western sanctions must also be part of a peace deal. He also repeated his call for Ukraine’s “denazification.”

“He is offering for Ukraine to admit defeat. He is offering for Ukraine to legally give up its territories to Russia. He is offering for Ukraine to sign away its geopolitical sovereignty,” said Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, rejecting the demands as “absurd.”

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Deadly Explosion Kills 8 IDF Soldiers in Rafah

Illustrative. Some rises after an Israeli strike as Israeli forces launch a ground and air operation in the eastern part of Rafah, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

i24 NewsEarly this morning, tragedy struck in the southern Gaza city of Rafah as eight Israeli soldiers lost their lives in a devastating explosion, marking the deadliest incident for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the region since January.

The IDF has confirmed the casualties, with one soldier identified as Captain Wassem Mahmoud, 23, a deputy company commander from Beit Jann in the Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Battalion.

The names of the other seven soldiers will be released after their families have been notified.

According to initial reports from the IDF, the soldiers were traveling in a Namer armored combat engineering vehicle (CEV) as part of a convoy around 5 a.m., following a successful overnight operation targeting Hamas militants in the Tel Sultan neighborhood of Rafah. During the operation, troops under the 401st Armored Brigade reportedly neutralized approximately 50 gunmen.

The convoy was en route to buildings captured by the army for the soldiers to rest, when the Namer CEV, which was the fifth or sixth vehicle in the convoy, was struck by a powerful explosion. The nature of the explosion remains under investigation, with possibilities ranging from a pre-planted bomb to an improvised device placed on the vehicle by Hamas operatives.

Initial findings suggest that explosives stored on the exterior of the Namer CEV may have contributed to the severity of the blast. Normally, such explosives are designed to minimize harm to troops inside if detonated.

The IDF probe indicates there was no gunfire preceding the explosion, and the vehicle was not stationary at the time of the incident. The circumstances surrounding the tragedy have prompted intensified scrutiny into the safety protocols and operational procedures during military movements in hostile territories.

The deaths of these eight soldiers bring the total number of IDF casualties in recent ground operations against Hamas to 307. This figure includes a police officer killed during a recent hostage rescue operation and a civilian Defense Ministry contractor also slain in the conflict.

This is a developing story 

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U.S. Officials Fear Escalating Conflict Between Israel and Hezbollah

Israeli firefighters work following rocket attacks from Lebanon, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, near the border on its Israeli side, June 13, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Avi Ohayon

i24 NewsRecent actions by both Israel and Hezbollah have sparked growing concerns among U.S. officials, who fear that the situation could escalate into a full-scale war, according to reports from CBS News.

The tension has intensified following a series of Israeli airstrikes on Lebanese territory, which some American authorities believe are laying the groundwork for a larger military operation.

Sources within the US government have expressed worries that such a move could trigger a conflict that might strain Israel’s alliance with Washington.

Hezbollah, in response to recent events including the assassination of senior commander Taleb Sami Abdullah, has escalated its own actions. The group has begun launching daily rocket attacks targeting northern Israeli communities since October 8, citing solidarity with Hamas amidst the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

US officials cited by CBS News have highlighted concerns over the potential unintended consequences of Hezbollah’s increased attacks. They fear that these actions could provoke Israel into launching a significant military assault, further exacerbating the volatile situation in the region.

The developments come amid ongoing international efforts to de-escalate tensions and prevent a wider conflict. Diplomatic channels remain active, with calls for restraint and dialogue from various quarters.

The United States, a key ally of Israel, has historically played a crucial role in mediating and influencing regional conflicts. Officials are closely monitoring the situation, emphasizing the importance of avoiding actions that could escalate tensions further.

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