Tens of thousands of people marched to the White House on Saturday to demand an end to Israel's ongoing military assault on Gaza.
Hailing from cities across the United States, participants filled the U.S. capital with chants of "Free, free Palestine. Killing children is a crime," as they carried signs and banners memorializing the over 1,650 Palestinians who have so far been killed— 80 percent of them civilians, according to UN estimates.
Nihad Awad, executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Common Dreams that the crowd numbered approximately 50,000 people, stretched 13 blocks from beginning to end, and included "a huge array of the human race."
Numerous organizations were represented among them, including MAS Immigrant Justice Center, American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the ANSWER Coalition. Immigrant justice demonstrators from an earlier "Not One More Deportation" march joined the rally. Tariq Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian American teenager who was brutally beaten by Israeli police after he was detained in East Jerusalem last month, was included in the crowd.
Demonstrators called for an end to U.S. political and financial backing of Israel, which includes $3.1 billion in military aid annually, and participants hoisted signs reading, "Let Gaza Live." Rami Elamine, Arab-American activist and writer for War Times told Common Dreams,"The protest managed to punch through a lot of the lies and propaganda that dominates Washington right now."
Cities and towns across the United States and world have held daily protests against Israel's strikes on the besieged Gaza strip from the land, air, and sea, and West Bank rallies have been met with deadly fire. Palestinian civil society organizations from within Gaza recently issued a renewed call for international pressure in the form of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction of Israel.
Awad said he believes the large numbers in Washington, DC on Saturday show a "shift" in U.S. public consciousness. "The massacre Israel is committing, including hitting UN schools even after UN officials gave their coordinates, has broken all red lines and violated international humanitarian law," he said. "The American people will not accept this. They are ahead of their government."