Demonstrators gathered in New York's Times Square Friday to protest the Israeli military campaign in Palestinian cities and towns. Police estimate the rally was attended by more than 6,000 people.
Protesters filled New York's Times Square, calling on Israel to end its occupation. The crowd of predominantly Muslim, Arab and Palestinian demonstrators, waved Palestinian flags, chanted slogans and held signs accusing Israel and its prime minister, Ariel Sharon, of killing innocent civilians.
The rally was sponsored by several groups from across the nation. Organizer Maher Abdel Qudar of the Palestinian-American Congress said that peace will only come to the Middle East if Israel is pressured to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "We are requesting that the United States get involved to end the occupation. The real issue in the Middle East is ending the occupation. Violence will cause violence," he said. "But if we end the occupation, we will have peace."
The rally was one of many in recent weeks, as demonstrators throughout the Middle East, Europe and the United States take to the streets to protest the escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence.
To make sure that the rally remained calm, New York police tried to deter pro-Israeli protesters from holding counter-demonstrations at the same site.
Demonstrator Adam Amro, a Palestinian refugee living in the United States, said that Israeli military operations in West Bank cities leave many Palestinians with no choice but suicide to fight for their cause. "So when you give up your soul to something like this, I'm not sure it's a suicide. I disagree with suicide, but that's the only thing they have," he said. "They have nothing. They have no tanks."
The rally was the second pro-Palestinian demonstration held at Times Square in the past week. On Thursday, hundreds of people held a rally in front of New York's Israeli consulate, in support of Israel.