Pro-Hamas, pro-Hezbollah protesters cheer ‘jihad’ at anti-Israel rally in DC

Demonstrators near White House protest Gaza war in terror group attire, burn US flags; in London, thousands march against Israel amid chants of ‘From the river to the sea’

Anti-Israel protesters demonstrate near the White House in Washington, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Anti-Israel protesters demonstrate near the White House in Washington, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Pro-Hamas and pro-Hezbollah demonstrators staged an anti-Israel protest near the White House on Saturday, calling for “jihad” and voicing anger at US President Joe Biden’s management of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

Thousands of protesters chanting “From DC to Palestine, we are the red line” held a long banner scribbled with the names of Palestinians killed in the ongoing fighting in Gaza, which was sparked by Hamas’s October 7 massacre in southern Israel.

Reports on social media appeared to show masked demonstrators chanting slogans urging Hamas’s military wing to “kill another soldier now” and calling on Hezbollah to “kill another Zionist now.” Protesters also held signs calling for “Intifada,” a reference to periods of deadly Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians in the late 1980s and early 1990s and again in the early 2000s.

One video posted to X showed a man with a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine headband burning the American flag, while other protesters appeared to be wearing green Hamas headbands.

The protesters — almost all wearing red clothing — held Palestinian flags and signs saying “Biden’s red line was a lie” and “Bombing children is not self-defense.”

The White House said in May that a deadly Israeli strike on Rafah that targeted two senior Hamas operatives did not cross a “red line” that Biden had seemingly set two months earlier when asked about a potential major military operation in the southern Gazan city.

The White House stepped up security with an additional anti-scale perimeter fence ahead of the demonstration, which saw chartered buses ferrying in people from as far afield as Maine and Florida.

Advocacy and activist groups like CODEPINK and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the demonstration marked eight months since Israel began its military offensive in Gaza against Hamas following the terror group’s October 7 onslaught.

On its website, CAIR said the rallies marked “eight months of slaughter and starvation in Gaza and demand that President Biden enforce his red line on Rafah by ending US support for the Israeli government’s genocide,” without mentioning Hamas or the terror group’s attack that initiated the war.

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protests began immediately after Hamas’s October 7 massacre — which saw thousands of terrorists burst across the border by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 251 hostages, mostly civilians — even before Israel’s military response kicked into high gear.

In response to the protest, the White House deputy spokesperson Andrew Bates said on Sunday “President Biden has always been clear that every American has the right to peacefully express their views. But he has also always been clear that Antisemitism, violent rhetoric, and endorsing murderous terrorist organizations like Hamas is repugnant, dangerous, and against everything we stand for as a country.”

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 36,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far. Of these, some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals or through self-reporting by families, with the rest of the figure based on Hamas “media sources.” The tolls, which cannot be verified, include some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

A total of 295 IDF soldiers and one police officer have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border. A civilian Defense Ministry contractor was also killed in the Strip.

Meanwhile Saturday, thousands of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel demonstrators marched through central London to the British parliament, calling for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza war.

Protesters waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans such as “End the genocide” and “Free, free Palestine.”

Chants of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” could be heard from the crowd, according to the British Daily Mail newspaper. The phrase has been used by Palestinian nationalist movements for decades, including by Hamas, and pro-Palestinian activists say it is a call for liberation. Israel and Jewish groups view it as advocating Israel’s destruction.

Posts on social media also showed protesters burning Israeli flags.

The demonstration, organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), also passed a pro-Israel counterprotest that featured portraits of some of the hostages seized by Hamas on October 7.

Anti-Israel protesters hold placards as they gather in front of Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the clock’s bell ‘Big Ben’ at the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, central London, on June 8, 2024 at the end of National March for Gaza. (Justin Tallis/AFP)

The protests came as Israeli forces rescued four of the hostages alive from a Gaza refugee camp on Saturday morning, in a daring operation.

Biden last week announced what he described as an Israeli proposal for a hostage-ceasefire deal. Hamas has not yet formally responded to the proposal, but officials in the terror group have reiterated their insistence that any agreement must guarantee an end to the war, a demand Israel has repeatedly ruled out.

It is believed that 116 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that. Seven hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 19 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 41 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas is also holding two Israeli civilians who entered the Strip in 2014 and 2015, as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed in 2014.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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