WASHINGTON – Thousands of protesters, many wrapped in Palestinian flags, rallied outside the White House on Saturday to call for peace and an end to the fighting in Gaza.
The crowd, young and old from across the United States, including scores of children on parents' shoulders, chanted End US Aid to Israel and Israel out of Palestine. "Gaza will not die -- it will never die," said Amar Jamal as he marched through downtown Washington with his family surrounded by a sea of red, black, white and green, the colors of the Palestinians' flag.
"It is the time to make peace because this bloodbath will not stop in Gaza. All the Middle East will be in trouble" if the conflict doesn't end, warned the Palestinian-born 70-year-old. Many of the protesters voiced anger at Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, after he vowed to keep up his military campaign against Gaza's rulers Hamas for as long and as forcefully as needed.
One protester waved a banner that read "Netanyahu and Hitler are the same; the only difference is the name." Others demanded that Washington end its military backing of Israel and take its ally to task over a conflict that has already killed more than 1,700 Palestinians and 66 Israelis, all but two of them soldiers.
Friends Waleh Kanan and Jasmine Abuhummos, both 15, traveled for hours overnight from Toledo, Ohio. "A lot of people are ignorant about what is going on. So we hope this will help get more of the truth out," said Kanan. A woman who identified herself as Mary was held back by police as she yelled stop supporting terror and brandished an Israeli flag poster toward pro-Palestinian protesters.
CNN reported that a small group of Orthodox Jews held a counter-demonstration that led to a minor scuffle. Organizers claimed that as many as 50,000 people participated in the afternoon rally. Police did not immediately respond to requests for official estimates.
Alli McCracken, National Coordinator of the anti-war group CODEPINK, a co-sponsor of the event, said spirits were high even though there's a massacre going on.