Hundreds gather outside Israeli Embassy in Washington demanding cease-fire in Gaza

Hundreds of people on Saturday gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC to demand a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

Demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags chanted slogans against President Joe Biden while unfurling banners saying "Free Palestine", "Stop The Invasion", "Hands Of Rafah", "Stop The Genocide", "End All US Aid To Israel", "Jews For Free Palestine", and "End All US Funding Of Israeli Apartheid."

The protesters remembered the US service member Aaron Bushnell who set himself on fire outside the embassy last week.

Bushnell, 25, an active-duty member of the Air Force, died after self-immolating in protest against Israel's war on Gaza, and he wrote in his will that he wanted his ashes to be scattered in a free Palestine.

“I will no longer be complicit in genocide. I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal,” he said during a live stream on his mobile phone.

Then he proceeded to douse himself in gasoline, setting himself ablaze.

Dressed in military uniform, Bushnell shouted “Freedom for Palestine” repeatedly, until he could no longer speak.

'We will not leave streets until we achieve freedom'

One of the protesters, who is also a director at American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Mohammad Habehh said people are in front of the embassy to give a message to the US administration and to the Israeli government.

"We will not stop, we will not leave the streets until we achieve freedom and an end to this genocide that is being committed by the Israelis and the US government.

"I think the President (Joe Biden) and those who are guilty, are well aware of what is going on in the streets, whether it is this or the disruptions or the many actions that we are taking here in DC and around this country right now," Habehh said.

He added protests are going on around major cities in the US for Palestine, saying the Biden administration knows what the American people stand against.

"I think that Joe Biden has proved time and again, that he is incapable of having any empathy for the Palestinian people.

"You heard him last week when he was eating ice cream, talking about a cease-fire while our people are being starved, while our people are being killed in food lines. He's eating ice cream talking about a cease-fire," Habehh said.

He stressed that he is hopeful that Palestinian people will get the justice and freedom that they deserve.

Mohammad Qasim, organizer of the Palestinian Youth Movement, told Anadolu that they are calling for a permanent cease-fire after nearly five months of Israel's "genocide" in Gaza, and for ending the occupation of Palestine.

"There's an impending invasion of Rafah. There has already been bombardment of Rafah, and we're out here to pressure here in the heart of US empire, here in Washington DC to prevent that from happening," Qasim said.

When asked whether the protest gets to the people in power, he said: "Absolutely, we have power in numbers, in the more numbers we have here in DC and across this country and across North America.

"They are feeling all the disruptions that are happening. They are feeling this pressure and we will continue to apply that pressure until we achieve all of our demands," he added.

‘We will win’

An American citizen Dominique Fierro, for her part, said they are demanding a cease-fire.

"I've seen too much carnage, I've seen too much massacre. It was never okay. It will never be okay. My heart breaks every day for everything I've seen.

"I think if enough people show up every single time then yes, we will win. I'm hoping that this will all end if enough people talk and if people aren't silent anymore, and if they see something that they have to say something. I mean, you feel it in your soul that it's wrong. And if you don't feel it in your soul then something is inherently wrong with you."

People also staged protests across other states in the country for Palestine.

Israel launched a military offensive on the Gaza Strip after the Oct. 7, 2023 Hamas incursion, which Tel Aviv said killed about 1,200 people.

At least 30,320 Palestinians have since been killed and 71,533 others injured besides mass destruction, displacement and shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which, in an interim ruling in January, ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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