Clashes erupt as pro-Israel and pro-Palestine supporters rally across American cities - WATCH
Tensions rise as demonstrations in multiple US cities reflect the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, featuring political leaders, clashes, and passionate voices on both sides.
In several American cities on Sunday, supporters of Israel and backers of the Palestinian cause held competing rallies amid the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, which has claimed hundreds of lives and left thousands wounded.
In New York City, tensions flared as opposing demonstrators clashed near the United Nations compound following a large gathering of Palestinian supporters in Times Square. Simultaneously, Palestinian Americans protested outside Israeli consulates in Atlanta and Chicago, while former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a Jewish community gathering in support of Israel at a synagogue in San Francisco.
These demonstrations and the involvement of American political leaders underscore the wide-reaching implications of the conflict, which prompted the US to deploy naval forces to the Eastern Mediterranean in readiness to assist Israel.
In New York City, a heavy police presence surrounded the United Nations compound, where scores of pro-Palestinian protesters had assembled a block away. Chants and flag-waving marked the scene, with metal barricades keeping the two opposing groups separate. At one point, a brief skirmish ensued as some pro-Palestinian demonstrators confronted men carrying Israeli flags, resulting in the tearing and stomping of one flag before police intervened.
Munir Atalla, of the Palestinian Youth Movement, told AP, "We want to show the world that when Palestine rises up in resistance, the diaspora rises with it," prior to the altercation.
Meanwhile, in Times Square, social media documented Palestinian supporters rallying behind police barricades, separated from a pro-Israel group. Eventually, the pro-Palestinian group marched away, chanting slogans such as "free, free Palestine, long live Palestine" and "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," while onlookers captured the moment with photographs.
In response to the planned pro-Palestinian rally, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, condemned it as "abhorrent and morally repugnant," a sentiment echoed by other political leaders in the state.
In Atlanta, over 75 demonstrators gathered at the Israeli consulate, voicing support for Hamas and calling for an end to US aid to Israel. Natalie Villasana, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, explained their presence, stating, "We’re here because we think everyone in the United States is funding Israeli apartheid." Villasana argued that US military aid could be better allocated domestically, though some demonstrators contended that Hamas' actions were justified in response to Israeli actions. Counter-protester Talia Segal, a student at Georgia Tech, carried an Israeli flag adorned with the LGBTQ+ pride colors and emphasized that terrorism is never justified, expressing concern for her family in Israel.
In Chicago, Priscilla Reed joined hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside the Israeli consulate. Many waved Palestinian flags or wore keffiyeh scarves symbolizing Palestinian solidarity. Chants in both English and Arabic echoed through the crowd, including, "Netanyahu you will see, Palestine will be free!" Reed, a retired teacher, argued that Hamas' actions were a response to Israel's "systemic daily violence against Palestinians."