Hundreds of demonstrators gathered near the National Mall Saturday afternoon to commemorate Nakba Day and show solidarity with Palestinians as the people are under heavy Israeli bombardment.
Protesters waved Palestinian flags and held up signs that read “Free Palestine,” “End the Holocaust in Gaza,” and other similar messages.
May 15 marked the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, which means “catastrophe” and refers to the massacre of Palestinians and their permanent displacement from their homeland in 1948, when the state of Israel was founded.
DC-based political analyst and policy advisor Mohammed Khader, who attended the rally, calls the Nakba “one of the largest planned ethnic cleansings in modern history.”
“For decades, Palestinians have been dehumanized under apartheid and forcibly displaced from their land by US-funded efforts,” Khader told The DC Post. “As a Palestinian, I attended the rally to join thousands of Palestinians, along with those in solidarity with Palestine, in the streets of DC to demand the US Government sanction Israel for their crimes against humanity, stand against the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and call for an end to the ongoing Nakba, which has been sustained under Israeli apartheid and the occupation of Palestine.”
Describing President Joe Biden’s silence as “extremely loud” for not openly calling for a ceasefire, Khader likened the US government’s current stance to “the same misguided approach taken during the Rwandan Genocide, where US officials explicitly refused to label it a genocide because it meant they would be required to act. Like what Reagan was to South Africa, what Clinton was to Rwanda, and what the US was to Cambodia.”
Huge march for Palestine in DC today on the 73rd Nakba Day during a week where Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has killed at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children. #MarchForPalestine #MarchForGaza #Nakba73 #Nakba pic.twitter.com/EVbXGRV50Z
— Ashish Malhotra (@amalhotra2) May 15, 2021
Tim Shorrock, a 70-year-old DC resident who also took part in the march, told The DC Post that he was glad to see a huge crowd in DC on Saturday. “I came out because I’m angry with Israel for its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the vicious way its settlers in East Jerusalem are forcing Palestinians and Arabs out of their homes. I’m also disgusted with the United States and the Biden administration for backing Israel’s military actions and refusing to protect the rights of Palestinians. Enough is enough,” Shorrock said.
Airstrikes carried out by the Israeli army have killed at least 200 Palestinians over the past week, including 59 children and 35 women. Around 1,300 people were injured in the attacks.
Ten people in Israel, including a soldier and a five-year-old, died due to rockets fired from Gaza.
Israel’s air campaign also targeted a tower in the Gaza Strip that housed international media offices for Al Jazeera and the Associated Press, destroying the building, after notifying media employees in advance, on Saturday, May 15.
The move was criticized by journalists and Palestine advocates, who accused Benjamin Netanyahu‘s government of trying to block the media’s coverage of the conflict.
Netanyahu claimed that Hamas was operating inside that building, but did not provide any evidence.
Gaza has also been experiencing power outages of up to 12 hours per day.
The recent clashes started on May 10, after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem in response to raids by Israeli police on the Aqsa Mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, using rubber bullets and injuring hundreds of Palestinian worshippers.
Biden and his administration has not publicly criticized Israel’s aggression.
On Monday, May 17, the United States blocked a proposed United Nations (UN) Security Council statement calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.