By Bobby Panza
Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered Saturday afternoon at Columbus Circle, chanting slogans critical of Israel and the U.S. as they marched north and eventually reached the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West.
“Israel bombs, U.S.A. pays. How many kids did you kill today?” chanted the crowd, some of whom carried Palestinian flags or signs that read: “Cease Genocide” and “Free Gaza.” The marchers interrupted traffic at some points, and police along the route occasionally intervened in disputes between onlookers and the protestors as they made their way to the front of the museum at West 80th Street.
Saturday’s rally took place on the second day of a pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas, to allow the exchange of Hamas-held Israeli hostages for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, and to enable larger deliveries of food, fuel, and other aid to civilians in Gaza.
Nerdeen Kiswani, 29, a representative of Within Our Lifetime, one of the organizers of Saturday’s demonstration, told WSR that her group did not see the exchange deal as a genuine humanitarian pause. Since the conflict began, with Hamas’s October 7 surprise attack on Israeli civilians that left 1,200 dead and about 240 taken hostage into Gaza, an estimated 14,800 Palestinians, including thousands of children, have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza. “Many are still being found dead under the rubble. Entire cities, villages, towns, refugee camps, homes, and neighboring blocks have been decimated,” said Kiswani.
Kiswani also said that Palestinians attempting to return to northern Gaza during the pause in fighting continued to face Israeli gunfire. “So, despite this so-called pause, our protests won’t cease,” she said. “We will persist as we have in the past weeks.”
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