Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington on Tuesday for a “March for Israel” to demonstrate support for Israel in its fight against Hamas and to denounce increasing antisemitism.
Streets were closed across most of downtown as hundreds gathered in the beautiful weather on the National Mall, many wrapped in Israeli and American flags.
“We are here to show the world that we will not be exterminated again,” said Marco Abbou, 57, a personal trainer originally from Israel who lives in Hackensack, New Jersey.
Protests and public demonstrations — both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel — have rippled around the world since gunmen from the Palestinian militant group Hamas rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, according to Israel, and taking about 240 hostages back to Gaza.
Israel responded with a strict blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza, and an aerial bombardment and ground offensive that Palestinian authorities say has killed more than 11,000 people, around 40% of them children.
As well as protests, the conflict has sparked a rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents in the United States including violent assaults and online harassment, according to advocacy groups.
Organizers of Tuesday’s demonstration said they estimated 200,000 people were attending to show U.S. support for Israel, demand the release of hostages and condemn antisemitic violence and harassment.
The largest demonstration in Washington so far related to the conflict on Nov. 4 drew thousands who called for the U.S. government, Israel’s main backer, to call for a ceasefire.