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Pro-Palestinian rally in Washington seeks end to US aid to Israel

More than 1,000 demonstrate on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as ceasefire between Israel and Gaza terror groups holds

Illustrative: Demonstrators hold placards as they march in support of the Palestinians in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 20, 2021.(Daniel SLIM / AFP)
Illustrative: Demonstrators hold placards as they march in support of the Palestinians in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 20, 2021.(Daniel SLIM / AFP)

More than 1,000 rallied Saturday in Washington in support of Palestinians and calling for an end to US aid to Israel.

The demonstration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial came as a ceasefire that ended 11 days of intense fighting between Israel and the terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip has so far held.

“We are hoping to send a clear message to the United States government that the days of supporting the Israeli state without repercussions are over,” one of the demonstrators, 39-year-old Washington lawyer Sharif Silmi, said as he stood in the crowd where many protesters held red, white, green and black Palestinian flags.

“We will stand against any politician that continues to fund weapons to Israel. We will oppose them, we will vote against them, we will fund their opponents, until we vote them out of office,” said Silmi.

Lama Alahmad, a resident of neighboring Virginia who is of Palestinian origin, said US public opinion is turning in favor of the Palestinian cause.

“There is a huge change” going on in the US with regard to the Palestinian cause seeking a sovereign homeland, said Alahmad.

Neighbors gather in a clearing strewn with debris from an airstrike during an 11-day war between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel, in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, May 26, 2021. (John Minchillo/AP)

“We just want the world to recognize that we are human beings. We are not terrorists,” said Alahmad, a 43-year-old stay-at-home mother who grew up in the United Arab Emirates before moving to the US around 20 years ago.

Silmi insisted there was now broad opposition in the US to how Israel treats the Palestinians, which he likened to apartheid in South Africa.

“People have now woken up, and we’re resisting. Whether young Jews, young Muslims, young Blacks, young whites, there is a generational shift. And people are working across ethnic groups, racial groups, to work for change and freedom and liberation for Palestinian people,” Silmi said.

The 11-day war began with Hamas firing rockets at Jerusalem, followed by towns in the south of Israel and the Tel Aviv area. Israeli retaliatory airstrikes on targets in the Strip killed some 250 people, including 66 minors, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, which does not differentiate between terror group members and civilians. Twelve people were killed in Israel, all but one of them civilians, including a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl.

Israel has said the majority of those killed were terror operatives and insists it did everything to avoid civilian casualties while fighting armed groups deeply embedded in populated areas.

The war drew protests in the United States and Europe and a sharp rise in antisemitic attacks against Jews abroad.

US President Joe Biden has condemned the antisemitism, backed Israel’s right to self-defense and promised to replenish the supply of Iron Dome defense missiles used during the war.

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