New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Thousands take to Washington Square to protest for cease-fire in Gaza

Nearly five months after the start of the Israel-Hamas war, thousands of protesters gathered at Washington Square Park to demand a cease-fire.
Alex Tey
Demonstrators gathered in Washington Square Park starting at 1 p.m. for speeches from activists. (Alex Tey for WSN)

Thousands of protesters marched from Washington Square Park to midtown Manhattan on Saturday to demand a cease-fire in Gaza, as the Gaza Health Ministry reported that the number of Palestinians killed in the Israel-Hamas war surpassed 30,000. Student groups such as NYU’s Young Democratic Socialists of America and Students for Justice in Palestine took part in the protest, during which many demonstrators carried umbrellas due to the rainy weather.

The demonstration was part of a worldwide day of action organized by activist groups including the People’s Forum, Palestinian Youth Movement and ANSWER Coalition.

“We know who our enemy is,” actress and pro-Palestinian activist Susan Sarandon said in a speech at Washington Square Park. “Our enemy is hate. Our enemy is racism. Our enemy is colonization. Our enemy is greed, and our enemy is silence.”

Protesters said chants and delivered speeches while holding signs with pro-Palestinian messages such as drawings of watermelons. Since the start of the war in October, the park has been the site of multiple pro-Palestinian protests, as well as some pro-Israeli protests and counterprotests.

Two protestors whose faces are covered with scarves stand side by side. The protestor on the right is holding up their left fist.
(Alex Tey for WSN)

“We are beyond begging people to see us as human beings. We are beyond the academy, beyond the institution, beyond begging white people to legitimize our grief and our rage,” Palestinian writer Mohammed el-Kurd said in a speech. “There is no debating our liberation, no debating our right to resistance.”

The protest comes nearly five months into the Israel-Hamas war, with President Joe Biden announcing on March 1 that the United States will begin airdropping food and resources into Gaza. Biden also acknowledged efforts toward hostage release arrangements. A senior member of the Biden administration told CNN on Saturday that the Israeli government has “basically accepted” the terms for a six-week cease-fire agreement.

“It’s important to continue applying pressure on the U.S. government in order to call for a cease-fire in Gaza right now,” protester Mohamed el-Fadeel said. “What’s happening right now is unbridled genocide.”

After a series of speeches in front of the Washington Square Arch, the demonstrators marched up Sixth Avenue and then headed to 42nd Street. On 42nd Street, the crowd encountered a New York City Police Department truck responding to a bomb threat in the area. Police, dressed in riot gear, attempted to move protesters out of the way, leading to shoving and protesters being pushed to the ground. Police took 11 people into custody.

A crowd of protestors marching down a road holding various flags, banners and umbrellas.
Protesters marching up Sixth Avenue on Saturday, March 2. (Alex Tey for WSN)

Last week, Israeli forces opened fire on a crowd of Palestinians waiting near aid trucks, leaving over 100 people killed in the aftermath, witnesses told the Associated Press. The Gaza Health Ministry and eyewitnesses said that the Israel Defense Forces intentionally targeted the convoy,  while Israeli officials said that troops acted in self-defense during a stampede that caused the majority of the deaths.

“The diverse amount of support for Palestine is really beautiful to see,” Ameer al-Khatahtbeh, founder of the social media news organization Muslim, said. “Our rage and our upset does not just go away. It’s not a trend or a fad — we’re talking about basic human rights here.”

Contact Alex Tey at [email protected].

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Alex Tey
Alex Tey, Editor-at-Large
Alex Tey was previously WSN’s editor-in-chief. She is now at large. Watch out!

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