NEW YORK (PIX11) — The billboards in Times Square were lit up with the faces of the Israeli hostages taken by Hamas as family members and politicians rallied Thursday to demand their release, according to organizers.
The Israeli-American Council (IAC) and other Jewish community organizations held the rally at Duffy Square, between 46th and 47th streets and Broadway, in Times Square at 6 p.m.
The pro-Israeli groups demanded Hamas free the men, women, and children the militant group took during its terror attack on Oct. 7. Israeli officials have reported Hamas took 199 hostages as of Thursday.
“Bring them home now,” a flyer promoting the event said.
The faces of the hostages and the Israeli flag were projected on 15 billboards in Times Square, organizers said. Holograms of the hostage families were also shown on the rally stage.
“They are suffering unimaginable agony every moment, and we are here to demand the release of those hostages as well as to stand for Israel’s inalienable right to defend itself decisively,” said the CEO of Israeli American Council, Elan Carr.
The NYPD worked in a “heightened threat environment” amid dozens of nonviolent protests about the Israel-Hamas that have taken place since Oct. 7.
A pro-Israel rally was held on Manhattan’s East Side on Wednesday, and a pro-Palestinian rally took place in Astoria, Queens. More than 2,000 people attended the protest in Astoria, according to the NYPD.
Mira Wassef is a digital reporter who has covered news and sports in the New York City area for more than a decade. She joined PIX11 News in 2022. See more of her work here.