Despite the mounting death toll, Washington has resisted calls to end the war, with tens of thousands gathering in the US capital to demand a ceasefire in Gaza.
Demonstrators in Washington, D.C., on Saturday directed their anger at U.S. President Joe Biden, accusing him of committing genocide against the Palestinians.
Protesters chanted, “Biden, Biden, you can’t hide; we charge you with genocide.”
United Nations experts have warned that the risk of genocide in Gaza is growing due to Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza in response to Hamas’ attack on southern Israeli communities on October 7.
The United Nations’ Genocide Convention defines genocide as “acts intended to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group,” including killing and measures to prevent reproduction.
The Biden administration has urged Israel to “minimize” civilian casualties but also insisted it would not draw any “red lines” on how U.S. allies should conduct military operations.
Biden also asked Congress to provide more than $14 billion in aid to Israel to help finance the current war in Gaza, which has killed at least 9,488 Palestinians, according to health authorities in the Hamas-controlled enclave.
Many protesters at Saturday’s rally called on the United States to halt aid to Israel. Demonstrations stretched east from Liberty Plaza near the White House to several blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
Al Jazeera interviewed many of the protesters. This is what they said:
Nida, a protester from Gaza
Nida, who chose to give only her first name, said her family in Gaza was suffering from constant bombardment and that there was no safe place across the territory.
“Stop the war. Stop the bombing. Stop the genocide in Gaza. That is our overarching message today and I hope our government will listen to us. I hope the people of Gaza, the entire Palestinian people, know that we are here. I hope they will listen. To hear our voices at least give them a little bit of joy, knowing they’re not alone.”
Huda Alkure, Yemeni-American advocate
Alcoure, who traveled from South Florida to Washington, D.C., to attend the protests, expressed anger at the U.S. and international response to the conflict.
“Palestinians have not had freedom for more than 70 years. It is time for us to make our voices heard and start telling the world that this is not right.”
David Horowitz, Jewish-American activist
Horowitz stressed the need for a ceasefire, calling the massacre in Gaza “abhorrent.” He also blasted the Biden administration’s call for a humanitarian pause as insufficient.
“We should be calling for a ceasefire, but they are talking about a ‘pause’, which is not really about stopping anything. They will let the supply trucks pass and then continue fighting, which is a euphemism and the public does not understand this. This It’s definitely not a ceasefire.”
Ayan Yusuf, Somali-American protester
Yusuf traveled to Washington, D.C. from Boston to attend the rally. She said the Biden administration failed to see the humanity of Palestinians.
“We are here to speak for innocent people. We are here to let the world know that what Israel and the United States did was not self-defense, it was genocide. Regardless of religion, regardless of our ways, regardless of agenda, we None of us will support this. We are all human beings.”
Aisha Raja, Pakistani-American activist
Raja dismissed the Biden administration’s newly announced initiative to combat Islamophobia in the United States, calling it a “despicable” move aimed at diverting attention from Washington’s policies in Gaza.
Raja dismissed the Biden administration’s newly announced efforts to combat Islamophobia in the United States, calling it a “despicable” move aimed at diverting attention from Washington’s policies in Gaza.
“We want to support the ceasefire 100 percent. We need to end this. We don’t want to send any more taxes to Israel. We don’t want to support genocide, which leaves us with blood on our hands.”
Maria Habib, Lebanese-American protester
Habib, who wore the traditional Palestinian dress “thobe,” said it was difficult for her to face the reality of war and atrocities in Gaza. She added that she would not vote for Biden and other Democratic candidates next year.
“They’re not going to get my vote or my family’s vote or anybody’s vote again. It’s true. I did vote for them in the past because basically, we didn’t have a better option. Now, it’s not even an option.”
Seaham Alfred, Day of Disaster survivor
Siham Alfred, who was forced from her home as a child during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, expressed concern that Palestinians might leave Gaza, condemning Biden and other Western leaders.
“What a shame, they are racist. They don’t see Palestinians and Israelis as equals. I will never vote for Biden. He is a coward and a criminal.”