About 30 people gathered outside the Embassy of Israel in Washington on Wednesday to call for an end to violence in Israel and Palestine.
The rally was one of 19 held simultaneously in cities across the United States and organized by the Israeli-American Council and other American Jewish groups. At the Washington rally, people showed their solidarity with Israel by waving Israeli flags and singing Israel’s national anthem.
“I’m not here to say that Israel is doing something wrong. I’m not here to say that Palestine is doing something wrong. I’m here to show my support for the country I was born in,” said Alon Tadmor of Rockville, who was born in Israel.
Israel and the territories have been the scene of violence in recent days. Israeli forces have clashed with rioting Palestinians in Jerusalem, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and on the Temple Mount. Israel has also responded to Hamas rocket fire with air attacks on Gaza. Rioting has broken out in several mixed Arab-Jewish cities in Israel.
Many at the rally spoke out against the rocket attacks by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. One attendee’s sign read “1000+ Rockets In 48 Hrs, Not Acceptable” and included the hashtags #FreeIsrael and #FreeGazaFromHamas.
Rally attendee Hussein Aboubakr of Arlington said Hamas was “using the opportunity to raise discord between Arabs and Jews and endangering peaceful coexistence” with its rocket attacks. As for the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, he said “Israel is responding with its responsibility to protect its own citizens. Hamas can stop all of this by simply stopping all the violence and the rockets.”
Israeli-born Rachel Vana of Bethesda said she believes the violence will end once Israel “hits them hard” and Hamas runs out of rockets. She said people in other countries should do more to show their support for Israel.
“All they do is just bang on Israel for being the oppressor, and not the defender,” Vana said. “They did not provoke. They’re always hit by the Palestinians and by their neighbors, Hezbollah. Yeah, it makes me angry that the world is silent.”
Israeli Ron Hagag of Falls Church said Israeli Arabs and Jews need to stand together in order for there to be peace.
“We need to stop apologizing for our power,” Hagag said. “I think we should act like we own this land like we do. It is our country. There were a couple of wars and we won them all. And I think we should stop being apologetic about it.”
Josh Schonfeld of Potomac said he came to the demonstration to show his support for Israel.
“It’s important to show some level of solidarity between the American Jewish community and the Israeli community and Israel,” Schonfeld said. “I have relatives in Israel and very close friends. And for me to see this, it’s terrible.”