Pro-Palestine protest in Washington attracts thousands from across the country

Demonstrators demand a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to US aid to Israel

Protesters gather in Washington to call for ceasefire in Israel-Gaza war. Getty Images / AFP
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Tens of thousands of protesters in Washington held a rally ahead of a march in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza on Saturday, demanding US support for a ceasefire.

The march left from Freedom Plaza and went past the White House, where protesters called for an end to the violence.

“Now is the time to stand with the besieged people of Palestine,” organisers wrote in a post on website The People's Forum. “Gaza is being bombed by the hour. Its people are denied food, water and electricity by Israel.

“Tens of thousands more people are likely to die. We must ACT!”

Organisers said about 30,000 people were in attendance.

The demonstration was organised by the Answer Coalition, an umbrella group of anti-war and racial justice organisations, which advocates ending the siege of Gaza and for the cessation of US aid to Israel.

“Today is going to be the largest demonstration ever in the history of the United States in support of Palestinian social and civil rights, and for peace,” Brian Becker, the coalition's executive director, told USA Today.

About 350 organisations endorsed the march and thousands of people were bused in from across the country, NBC reported.

People from across the country representing an array of backgrounds, ethnicities and religious groups attended the event.

President Joe Biden's administration has demonstrated strong support for ally Israel, requesting Congress to approve $106 billion to fund plans for military aid to Ukraine and Israel, as well as US border security.

The President also visited Israel in the days following the October 7 Hamas attack that killed more than 1,400 people, and he has expressed his staunch support for the country in its war against Hamas.

The US has rejected a series of UN Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire, with officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying such a move would allow Hamas to “regroup and repeat what they did on October 7".

Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip has killed more than 9,000 people, about half of them children, according to local tallies.

The Biden administration has received increasing criticism from Arab and Muslim-American communities who have expressed growing anger over its response to the conflict.

This week, Mr Blinken and White House officials have held at least two meetings with community leaders to address their concerns.

“The administration, I think, heard loud and clear from all of us that Palestinians are being dehumanised and about us not feeling seen or heard,” a source present at one meeting told The National.

“And I think they took to heart that this may cost Biden the election.”

Mr Biden and other administration officials have been heckled and confronted at campaign rallies and even during testimony before Congress over their stance on the conflict, with cracks beginning to show in the president's Democratic Party.

Dick Durbin, the second highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, has called for a ceasefire, while Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on Friday posted a video on X, formerly Twitter, in which she accuses Mr Biden of supporting “genocide” against Palestinians.

In a shift in tone on Friday, Mr Blinken, who is on a tour of Israel and Jordan, said: “We need do more to protect the Palestinian civilians.

“We’ve been clear that, as Israel conducts its campaign to defeat Hamas, how it does so matters.”

Despite this apparent softening, Mr Blinken and senior Middle East officials agreed on Saturday on the need to bolster humanitarian relief for Gaza but disagreed over a permanent ceasefire.

Updated: November 04, 2023, 10:06 PM