KEW GARDENS, Queens (PIX11) — Protests on both sides of the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out in New York City on Monday, three days after the militant group launched an attack on Israel that has left more than 1,600 people dead.
In the heart of the Jewish community in Kew Gardens, Queens, supporters of Israel lined the street in a show of support following the terrorist attack. Queens Borough President Donovan Richards hosted the event.
“The hostages, the babies, innocent children, this is something nobody has seen or known about since the holocaust,” said Richards. “And we are clear in Queens and in New York City that Israel will have the right to exist, and we will fight to make sure we preserve that.”
Many Queens elected leaders, including Congress members, were also present. Congressman Gregory Meeks, the ranking Democratic member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, pledged the full support of the American government.
“There is a responsibility that we all have to stamp this out. Collectively, Hamas cannot continue,” Meeks said.
But the rally was clearly more than just a show of support for Israel. It pushed back against pro-Palestinian rallies, including one on Sunday in Times Square with obvious antisemitic overtones.
“It’s despicable, it’s anti-American, that’s not who we are. We are better than that,” Richards said.
Meanwhile, tensions erupted outside PIX11 News’ studios Monday afternoon as protesters supporting Israel and protesters supporting Palestinians rallied amidst the war in the Middle East.
Two groups took up posts on opposite sides of the road, voicing their frustrations about the war.
Those rallying in support of Israel condemned the attacks by Hamas over the weekend, killing hundreds of Israelis and taking hundreds of more hostage. Pro-Palestinian protesters waved flags and chanted “Free Palestine,” saying that while they don’t agree with killing innocent people, the attack on Israel was justified.
“This is an unfortunate thing, of course. But you have to understand that there have been 75 years of occupation that Palestinian people have suffered through,” one person at the pro-Palestinian rally told PIX11 News. “Children, mothers, whole families being killed. And now everybody is shedding tears when they (the Palestinians) try to fight back.”
New York City is home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, with about 2 million Jewish people living in the city and surrounding areas.