Pro-Palestinian Protesters Rally in DC Despite Rain, Marking Past and Present Struggles

Amidst the painful present of the Gaza war and the painful past of the approximately 700,000 Palestinians who were forced to flee or were driven from what is now Israel when the state was established in 1948, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol, shouting pro-Palestinian slogans and denouncing the actions of both the Israeli and American governments.

Rallying on the National Mall on the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, an Arabic term meaning calamity, some 400 protestors defied persistent rain. One of the biggest demonstrations in recent memory took place in the nation’s capital in January, drawing thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Protests were held in favor of Palestinian rights and for an early cessation of Israeli military activity in Gaza. The audience echoed with the phrases “No peace on stolen land” and “End the killings, stop the crime/Israel out of Palestine.”

Moreover, President Joe Biden was the target of protesters’ ire, as they claim that Biden is pretending to be concerned about the number of deaths in Gaza.

They said, “Biden Biden, you will see/genocide’s your legacy.”

On Saturday, the Democratic President was in Atlanta.

Rain tended to keep the crowds smaller, according to Reem Lababdi, a sophomore at George Washington University who claimed she was pepper-sprayed by police last week when they broke up an on-campus protest encampment.

“I’m proud of every single person who turned out in this weather to speak their minds and send their message,” she stated.

Anger over the continuous siege of Gaza served as fuel for this year’s memorial. On October 7, Hamas and other terrorists invaded southern Israel, killing over 1,200 people and kidnapping another 250.

This marked the start of the most recent Israel-Hamas conflict. About 100 Palestinian terrorists remain imprisoned, and over 35,000 Palestinians have been murdered by Israel’s forces in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry of Gaza, which does not differentiate between combatants and civilians.

The executive director of American Muslims for Palestine, Speaker Osama Abuirshad, made a motion toward the dome of the Capitol building behind him.

“This Congress does not speak for us. This Congress does not represent the will of the people,” he stated. “We’re paying for the bombs. We’re paying for the F-16s and F-35s. And then we do the poor Palestinians a favor and send some food.”

The violent crackdown on many pro-Palestinian protest camps at campuses around the nation infuriated the speakers as well. Police have torn up long-term encampments at over 60 schools in recent weeks; fewer than 3,000 protestors have been taken into custody.

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Israel forbade them from returning after the Arab-Israeli War, which followed the creation of Israel, as this would have created a Palestinian majority inside Israel’s borders. Rather, they developed into a community of about 6 million refugees who are thought to be permanent.

The majority of them reside in urban refugee camps that resemble slums in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Roughly three-quarters of the population of Gaza are refugees or their offspring.

Protesters engaged in a call-and-response exercise during the demonstration and the march, during which the speaker mentioned many cities in Israel and the occupied territories. The reply was “raageh!” That’s Arabic for “I’m coming back!”

With police cars blocking the streets in front of them, the protesters marched along Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues for many blocks. With an Israeli flag in hand, a lone counter-protester tried to go close to the front of the group. One of the protesters grabbed his flag at one point and took off.

As the man’s temper grew, the protestors’ “safety team” surrounded him in a tight phalanx to prevent him from moving forward and shield him from irate members of the public. When a policeman moved in, he led the man away and ordered him to go home, ending the standoff.

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