Hundreds in Los Angeles march in solidarity with Palestinians amid airstrikes and displacement
Several hundred people took to the streets in the Westwood area Saturday to demonstrate in support of Palestinians amid the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza as well as the forced displacement of Palestinians living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem.
The demonstration was dubbed “Nakba 73: Resistance Until Liberation” and took place on Wilshire Boulevard at the Federal Building.
Organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, it was one of several events scheduled around the United States on Saturday. Organizers said Nakba commemorates the date in 1948 when “over half of the Palestinian population was displaced from their homelands” for the establishment of Israel. Nakba translates literally to “catastrophe.”
Demonstrators chanted and held signs saying “Free Palestine” and “End All U.S. Aid to Israel.”
Police reported no issues at the protest as of 2:15 p.m., according to Officer Norma Eisenman of the Los Angeles Police Department, but traffic was heavily affected in the area.
“The area of Wilshire Blvd near the 405 fwy is very congested due to large protest activity currently underway. Avoid the area if possible for the next few hours due to multiple street closures,” the LAPD tweeted at 2:24 p.m.
President Biden has given his support to Israel’s airstrikes, which Israel said were in retaliation to Hamas strikes on Israeli territory.
But Biden also voiced concern over civilian deaths and the protection of journalists in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The deadliest fighting in recent years in Israel continued Saturday, with Israel launching airstrikes on Gaza and Hamas retaliating with missiles launched toward Tel Aviv.
Over the past five days Israeli strikes killed at least 145 Palestinians in Gaza — including 41 children and 23 women, the Associated Press reported Saturday. In Israel, military responses from Hamas killed eight, all but one of them civilians, including a 6-year-old child.
An Israeli airstrike on Saturday destroyed a building that houses offices for Al Jazeera and The Associated Press, among other media outlets.
Protesters on Saturday also rallied against the situation unfolding in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem where Jewish-Israeli settlers, emboldened by local court decisions, are forcing dozens of Palestinians from their homes after decades of living there.
The Israeli court decision and actions of settlers have drawn condemnation from some members of Congress and the United Nations. Activists and human rights groups like Human Rights Watch have called such displacement a continued effort of the Israeli government to ethnically cleanse the region of Palestinians, who they say already live in an apartheid state under military and police occupation.
The Israeli government has called the Sheikh Jarrah case a private matter between the Arab families who moved to the neighborhood in the 1950s, and the settler groups whom Israeli courts have ruled are the legal owners of the families’ homes, the New York Times reported last week.
There have been small weekly protests in Sheikh Jarrah for years but the conflict exploded last week as the Israeli Supreme Court neared its decision.
During protests, Israeli police occupied the Al-Aqsa Mosque, an iconic Islamic holy site in Jerusalem, where police this week injured more than 150 worshippers.
In response, Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem late Monday, triggering the Israeli assault on Gaza. Since then, Hamas has fired more than 2,000 rockets, though most have either fallen short or been intercepted by anti-missile defenses. Israel’s warplanes and artillery have struck hundreds of targets around blockaded Gaza, where some 2 million Palestinians live in dense housing.
The turmoil has also spilled over elsewhere, fueling protests in the occupied West Bank and stoking violence within Israel between its Jewish and Arab citizens, with clashes and vigilante attacks on people and property.