Thousands gathered in major cities across the United States over the weekend to support Palestinians as Israel’s military launches massive airstrikes on Gaza and the death toll mounts.
Sunday marked the deadliest day in Gaza yet, with more than 50 killed, according to the region’s health ministry. Since the violence broke out last week, Israeli firepower has killed more than 200 Palestinians, including 61 children. More than 1,400 people have been injured, the ministry said.
At least 10 Israelis have died as a result of Hamas rocket fire, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Other parts of the region have seen violence, too. Jerusalem has been on edge for several weeks, with Palestinians angered over the closure of a holy mosque just as Ramadan was beginning, and as a yearslong legal battle to remove seven Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood appeared set to end in forced displacement.
Earlier this month, Israeli police entered Al Aqsa Mosque — the third holiest site for Muslims — and attacked Palestinians inside and around, firing stun grenades while Palestinians threw stones. The resulting clashes there and in other parts of the neighborhood left hundreds of Palestinians and some Israeli police officers injured. Palestinian militants in Gaza joined the fray by firing rockets into Israel, which responded with a barrage of airstrikes.
Protests across the United States in solidarity with Palestinians stretched from California to New York over the weekend. Saturday marked the 73rd anniversary of “al-Nakba,” or “the catastrophe” — when more than 700,000 Palestinians were driven from or left their homes during the war that created the state of Israel.
Some showed up with handmade signs and others marched and chanted through megaphones. But regardless of their participation style, their message remained the same: to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian community.
Here are some of the bigger demonstrations:
Adil Abbuthalha, 23, grabbed his camera and made his way to downtown Sacramento on Sunday, motivated to march the streets of the state’s capital in solidarity with Palestinians, he told CNN.
“As a Muslim, our prophet teaches us that humanity is like a body — when one part hurts, the rest of the body hurts,” he said. “And now our brothers and sisters are bleeding across the world.”
“The unity we saw, regardless of religion or ethnicity, it speaks volumes for the people in Palestine,” Abbuthalha said. “They are starting to see their voices being heard, and change is around the corner.”
Demonstrators filled the steps leading to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which were featured in a famous scene from the movie “Rocky.”
An advocacy group called the Black and Brown Coalition of PHL told CNN protesters marched from Rittenhouse Square Park to the museum, where the “Rocky Steps” are, to listen to speeches and poetry.
Supermodel Bella Hadid, who is of Palestinian heritage, attended a protest Saturday in New York, sharing photos and videos on her Instagram account.
“The way my heart feels.. To be around this many beautiful, smart, respectful, loving , kind and generous Palestinians all in one place… it feels whole ! We are a rare breed!!,” a caption on one of Hadid’s Instagram posts read. “It’s free Palestine til Palestine is free!!!”
Rehma Mohamed, 26, was supposed to meet up with friends at Dallas’ rally Saturday but the crowd was so large, she wasn’t able to find them, she told CNN.
Mohamed said she’s never seen a turnout like this before.
“I’ve attended every Palestine protest in Dallas, and even during the war in 2014 … the turnout was only in the hundreds.”
Nader Mirfiq, 33, joined his city’s protest Saturday afternoon. As a Palestinian-American, he said he’s disgusted and he wants to “open people’s eyes worldwide on the injustices happening in Gaza and in Palestine.”
“This is about being human beings and fighting for what’s right,” he said. “We want justice and we want it now.”
Aaron Anfinson, director of the Critica Research and Analysis center, has been working on a long-term project on civil disobedience and dissent, which has involved photographing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy marches, Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Washington, the January 6 Capitol siege and other protest movements, he told CNN.
Attending Saturday’s pro-Palestinian rally allowed him to capture some of the sights and sounds for his project.
Febi Ramadhan, 27, and his wife, Annisa Mawarni, 25, took to the streets of downtown Chicago and posed for a photo with handmade signs.
“I was saddened and enraged by these continuous acts of violence, and I participated in the rally in downtown Chicago to fight together with Palestinians against this pogrom until the liberation of Palestine actually happens,” Ramadhan told CNN.