Throngs of demonstrators rallied over Middle East violence Saturday from Copley Square to the offices of the Israeli consulate, demanding an end to US aid to Israel amid a growing armed conflict in the Middle East.
Saturday’s protest was held on the anniversary of Nakba Day, which organizers in a statement said refers to the mass forced exodus of Palestinians displaced from their homes in 1948 with the establishment of Israel.
“The community wanted to gather and send a clear message to the US government, the Israeli government that enough is enough,” said Lea Kayali, one of the organizers, in a phone interview during the demonstration. “The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians must end. We are demanding an end to US support for the Israeli military.”
The recent violence, which began Monday with the resumption of war between Israel and Hamas, has led to the deaths of at least 139 people in Gaza, and eight in Israel, the New York Times reported Saturday afternoon.
HAPPENING NOW: Boston #JewsAgainstApartheid showing up at a massive Palestinian led demonstration in front of the Boston Public Library. pic.twitter.com/ZfFPj46jrh— IfNotNow Boston 🔥 (@IfNotNowBoston) May 15, 2021
The deteriorating situation in the Middle East has led to the worst violence in years between Israelis and Palestinians, according to the Times, and led to waves of unrest elsewhere in the region.
On Saturday, President Biden spoke to Israeli and Palestinian leaders in separate phone calls in an attempt to arrange a cease-fire.
In a statement released to The Boston Globe Saturday, the consul general, Ambassador Meron Reuben, said: “There is a lot of misinformation presently on the current situation, especially on social media. As a Democracy, human rights are crucial to our state, and we are devastated by any civilian casualties. Though we remain unapologetic for militants neutralized in the ongoing operation.”
Hamas, he said, is “committing a double war crime” by targeting Arab and Jewish Israeli civilians from within densely populated areas of Gaza. Some of Hamas’s rockets are falling back onto the Palestinian civilian population, he said, “causing death, destruction, and mayhem.”
About a thousand demonstrators gathered around 2 p.m. in Copley Square and listened to speakers before marching a few blocks to the Israeli consulate’s office on Park Plaza and chanting slogans like “Free, free Palestine,” and “No justice, no peace.”
Many of the protesters carried signs. One read, “Indians stand with Palestine.” Another demonstrator held a sign with the message: “Another Jew against Israeli occupation.” Some people could be seen holding signs calling for an end to US aid to Israel.
Jewish Voice for Peace Boston supported Saturday’s demonstration in a statement posted to its website, and called for solidarity with Palestine.
“Although mainstream media refers to the recent wave of Zionist violence as ‘clashes,’ this is just a colonial reframing of the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian people,” the group said in a statement.
Kayali said local calls in support of the Palestinian cause will not stop with Saturday’s demonstration.
“We’re certainly going to continue to organize and demonstrate and to call attention to what is happening in Palestine,” she said.
Erin Clark of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.