A protest in support of Palestine met up in Williamsburg on Monday afternoon and eventually took the Williamsburg Bridge into the Lower East Side.
The protest started at Bedford Avenue and North 8th Street, organized by Within Our Lifetime, a Palestinian-led community organization facilitating similar events around New York City.
Speakers at the event said Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza amounts to genocide (with more than 16,000 Palestinians confirmed killed so far, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza) and called for an end to military aid from the United States.
The crowd included members of Neturei Karta, an international organization of anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews. The protest was passionate but peaceful, although a melee occurred off to the side with a small number of counter-protestors, one of whom waved the Israeli flag throughout the rally. At one point, the counter-protestor told the crowd, “From the river to the sea, this flag is all you’ll see,” invoking a chant that has been used as a rallying call for Palestinians. NYPD officers attempted to keep the factions separate as tensions escalated, almost coming to blows on several occasions.
The protest is one of several that have sprung up in New York City and around the world since the October 7 Hamas attacks, which resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people and more than 240 hostages. Israel then invaded Gaza, through both a ground invasion and intense bombing. Both sides eventually agreed to a temporary ceasefire in exchange for hostages. However, the ceasefire has since lapsed, and the conflict has escalated again, with Israeli forces moving into the southern part of Gaza, an area they formerly deemed a “safe zone.”
Several North Brooklyn elected officials have joined in the call for a ceasefire. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez has signed onto Congresswoman Cori Bush’s “Ceasefire Now” resolution, joining a growing list of members of Congress. Last week, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher delivered a petition to Senator Chuck Schumer’s office, demanding he join the call for a ceasefire.
“For nearly 20 years, Gaza has been an open air prison where 2+ million people have struggled to survive blockade, bombardment and deep poverty. And now weeks of unrelenting, indiscriminate bombing,” Gallagher tweeted after delivering the petition. “I’m ashamed that our government has aided and abetted this.”