Stefani Reynolds Agence France-Presse Coming from all over the United States, many Americans of Jewish faith held up signs calling to “liberate Palestine from Hamas”, to “let Israel finish the job” or “annihilate Hamas,” in addition to demanding the release of hostages held by the Palestinian Islamist movement.
Inès Bel Aiba – Agence France-Presse and Caitlin Wilson – Agence France-Presse in Washington
November 14, 2023
- United States
« For Israel” and “against anti-Semitism”, tens of thousands of people demonstrated Tuesday in Washington, Israeli flag in hand or tied around their necks, demanding the release of hostages held by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas since its bloody attack of October 7.
Coming from all over the United States, from Massachusetts to Louisiana to Wisconsin, many Jewish Americans held signs calling to “liberate Palestine from Hamas”, to “let Israel finish the job” or to “annihilate Hamas.”
The gathering, organized by Jewish associations, took place under heavy police protection. Metal barriers were installed along the National Mall, a huge esplanade in the center of the American capital, and participants had to pass through security gates, where their bags were searched, to meet under giant screens on the lawn.
Several streets were blocked by snow plows and military vehicles, and police in cars, on horseback and on bicycles were patrolling.
“I'm here with a group from Kansas City and we're here to support Israel, to demand the release of the hostages and to call attention to the rise of anti-Semitism in this country and around the world,” he told the 'AFP Hazzan Tahl Ben-Yehuda, a protester.
Photo: Roberto Schmidt Agence France-Presse A protester holds a sign that reads “Let Israel finish the job! ”, Tuesday, in Washington.
The Israeli military estimates that some 240 people were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip during Hamas' unprecedented October 7 attack on Israeli territory. This left around 1,200 dead in Israel, mainly civilians, according to the Israeli authorities.
In retaliation, Israel relentlessly bombs the Gaza Strip and has been carrying out a ground operation since October 27 with the aim of “wiping out” the Islamist movement in power in the besieged Palestinian territory. These Israeli strikes on Gaza left more than 11,000 dead, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.
“Bring them home!” », the crowd in Washington regularly chanted in reference to the hostages.
“Never, never will we forget the harm inflicted by Hamas,” Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said from the podium.
“Today we stand with Israel” and “we will continue to fight for the release of all the hostages. Free them! Take them home! “, he added to applause.
The new Republican leader of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, received a standing ovation when he declared that “the calls for a cease -fire [were] scandalous.”
Israeli President Isaac Herzog delivered a video address.
Rachel Goldberg, the mother of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, told the crowd that the families of those held by Hamas had been living “in slow motion pain” since October 7.
“We all have third-degree burns to our souls,” she said. “Our hearts are bruised and distress flows out.” “Why does the world accept that 240 human beings from almost 30 countries were kidnapped? “, she said.
Photo: Stefani Reynolds Agence France-Presse On Tuesday in Washington, a few dozen counter-protesters (in the background), anti-Zionist ultraorthodox Jews, were present. They were attacked by participants, from whom they were separated by a police cordon.
This rally takes place after numerous pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the country in recent weeks, demanding “a cease-fire” in Gaza and castigating American policy of support for Israel.
On Tuesday, a few dozen counter-protesters, anti-Zionist ultraorthodox Jews, were present. They were attacked by participants, from whom they were separated by a police cordon.