Pro-Palestinian activists in New York celebrate Hamas attack on Israel

On Sunday, October 8, 2023, hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied in Times Square, waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans in support of Hamas, the terrorist group that launched a massive attack on Israel the day before. The attack killed 700 Israelis, wounded thousands more, and took 100 hostages to Gaza. Israel declared war on Hamas and vowed to retaliate.

The protesters in New York praised the attack as a “great escalation of a historic struggle” and “not a terrorist attack,” but instead a manifestation of Palestinians’ right to self-determination. They chanted “Resistance is justified,” “Globalize the intifada,” and “Smash the settler Zionist state.” They also chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” implying the elimination of Israel.

Some of the protesters carried signs with anti-Semitic messages, such as “Hitler was right” and “Jews are our dogs.” One protester wore a T-shirt with an image of a swastika and the words “I love Hitler.”


Pro-Israel demonstrators face off against pro-Palestinian demonstrators

Across the street from the pro-Palestinian rally, several dozen pro-Israel demonstrators gathered to express their solidarity with Israel and their outrage over the Hamas attack. They sang Israel’s anthem, “Hatikvah,” and waved Israeli flags. They chanted “Shame” and “Murderers” at the pro-Palestinian group. Some also chanted “The people of Israel live” in Hebrew.

The pro-Israel demonstrators said they were shocked and saddened by the attack, which they called a massacre and a genocide. They said they came to show support for Israel, which has been attacked in the most savage way by Hamas terrorists. They said they expected Israel to defend itself and end the Hamas terror.

The two groups of demonstrators clashed verbally and physically, with some shouting insults and throwing objects at each other. Police officers and metal barricades stood between them to prevent further violence. Dozens of people were arrested for disorderly conduct and assault.

Elected officials condemn the pro-Palestinian rally

The pro-Palestinian rally drew condemnation from several elected officials, who called it abhorrent and morally repugnant. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, said he was disgusted by the rally, which he said celebrated terrorism and hatred. He said he stood with Israel, which has the right to exist and defend itself.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, also a Democrat from New York, said she was appalled by the rally, which she said glorified violence and anti-Semitism. She said she stood in solidarity with Israel, which has been subjected to a horrific attack by Hamas. She said she hoped for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader and a Democrat from New York, said he was outraged by the rally, which he said incited violence and bigotry. He said he stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel, which has been attacked by a ruthless enemy that seeks its destruction. He said he supported Israel’s right to self-defense and security.

The context of the Hamas attack on Israel

The Hamas attack on Israel was one of the deadliest in history, surpassing the death toll of previous wars and conflicts between Israel and Gaza. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a response to Israel’s oppression and aggression against Palestinians.

The attack involved hundreds of Hamas fighters who infiltrated Israel through tunnels under the Gaza border. They targeted civilians and soldiers in towns and villages near the border, using guns, knives, explosives, and rockets. They also fired rockets at major cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The attack caught Israel by surprise, as it had been engaged in indirect talks with Hamas through Egypt to maintain a fragile ceasefire that had been in place since May 2021. The ceasefire had ended an 11-day war that killed more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel responded to the attack by launching airstrikes and artillery fire at Hamas targets in Gaza. It also mobilized thousands of troops and reservists for a possible ground invasion. It said it would not stop until it restored deterrence and eliminated the threat from Hamas.

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