NEW YORK — Amidst a backdrop of intensifying Israeli-Palestinian conflict, hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in Times Square in a largely peaceful, albeit, passionate protest calling for an end to Israel’s military operations in Gaza.
This demonstration was the latest in a series of New York City protests during the week of Oct. 9, following the deadliest attack in Israel’s history by Hamas. Since Oct. 7, the Palestinian militant organization and political party that controls the Gaza Strip, killed at least 1,400 Israelis and foreign nationals, and Israel’s subsequent military response in Gaza.
Yasmeena Rasheed, a 25-year-old Palestinian-American from New Jersey, says she is worried for her family and friends in Gaza. “A lot of people are losing family members,” she said. “I feel like there is a lot of propaganda being spread right now where it’s Israel versus Hamas. What they’re not looking at is the thousands of children that are being killed.”
Palpable tension loomed as dozens of uniformed NYPD officers stood between the pro-Palestinian demonstrators and pro-Israeli counter-protestors on both sides of West 42nd Street at the corner of Broadway.
The majority of protests remained non-violent. There were isolated instances of arrests for misdemeanor offenses such as disorderly conduct and blocking traffic.
Fifty people, who identify as part of a Jewish group opposing genocide, were arrested for allegedly obstructing traffic at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. Further arrests occurred on Oct. 13 during a pro-Palestinian rally at the City University of New York’s Baruch College in Manhattan and outside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Brooklyn residence, where protesters gathered to demand a ceasefire in Gaza.
Samiul Haque, a 28-year-old Queens resident and pro-Palestinian supporter, critiqued the mainstream media’s portrayal of the conflict calling it, “one-sided.”
“Everyone is being asked if they condone the Hamas attack but no one is asking Israeli officials to condone their violence and everything they’re doing,” Haque said. He criticized Israel for cutting off food, water, electricity, humanitarian aid, even construction materials which they have control over.”
Despite moments of tension, exemplified by emotionally charged heated exchanges, protesters from both sides emphasized their stand against the loss of innocent lives in the Middle East.