Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C., on Saturday afternoon to join a massive demonstration protesting the ongoing Israeli military campaign against Hamas and the bombing of Gaza.
They filled the streets, rallying at Freedom Plaza, and in front of the White House, calling for an immediate cease-fire and an end to U.S. support for Israel in the conflict.
The rally at Freedom Plaza was a powerful display of solidarity with Palestine. Among the speakers was the renowned rapper Macklemore, who boldly declared, “I’m not afraid” and voiced his opposition to the war, referring to it as a “genocide.” His words resonated with the cheering crowd, many of whom had traveled from various parts of the United States to make their voices heard.
Protesters at the rally were fervent in their condemnation of the Israeli campaign and demanded an end to the continuous airstrikes on Gaza, which have claimed the lives of more than 9,000 people, according to the United Nations. The conflict began when Hamas launched a surprise attack on October 7, killing over 1,400 Israelis and taking more than 200 hostages. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to dismantle Hamas, resisting calls for cease-fires and escalating the situation further.
While there are growing concerns about civilian casualties and the displacement of Palestinians, the U.S. government has affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. It has supplied Israel with air defense munitions and expressed the need to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.
The protest was not only a call for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also a rebuke of U.S. foreign policy and its support for Israel. Demonstrators called on President Joe Biden to address the ongoing crisis, accusing him of contributing to what they called a “genocide” by standing with Israel. The Biden administration is facing increasing pressure to take a more active role in seeking a peaceful resolution and pushing for a two-state solution.
As Israeli forces continue their advance into Gaza City, the situation remains critical, and the rallying cries for peace grow louder. The protesters made it clear that they were not only standing up for Palestine but also for oppressed people worldwide, voicing their frustration with U.S. involvement in global conflicts.
The rally served as a reminder that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a highly contentious issue, with both sides entrenched in their positions. While the situation on the ground remains grim, demonstrators hope their voices will lead to a more comprehensive peace effort, with a focus on the long-elusive two-state solution.