Heavy security at peaceful march for Israel in Manhattan

Thousands of pro-Israel protesters marched along Fifth Avenue on Sunday in a closely watched Israel Day parade that took on a more somber tone this year as the war in Gaza enters its eighth month.

The usually joyous event, which has been held annually since 1964, had fewer spectators than usual in Midtown due to heavy security. The parade – which was expected to attract 40,000 participants, all of whom needed credentials to march – was previously called the “Salute Israel Parade” or “Celebrate Israel.” This year it was renamed “Israel Day on the 5th” and focused on remembering the hostages captured by Hamas on October 5. 7.

The event was largely peaceful and attracted very few counter-protesters. Police barricades, chain-link fences and checkpoints manned by police limited access to the route.

Since October, New York has seen about 3,000 protests related to the war between Israel and Hamas, according to Mayor Eric Adams, most of them pro-Palestinian, and hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested. No Palestinian flags were visible along the parade route Sunday.

However, moments of tension broke out between participants and politicians. At the start of the parade, the arrival of elected officials, including the governor. Kathy Hochul; Letitia James, Attorney General of New York; And Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and Senate Majority Leader, drew boos from the crowd.

As Senator Schumer began speaking at Fifth Avenue and 55th Street, those gathered there demanded the return of the Israeli hostages. At least one person shouted: “You betrayed us,” a reference to Mr. Schumer sharply criticizing the Israeli government in a Senate speech in March.

Senator Schumer continued his remarks by saying, “We will not give in, we will not back down. » He added: “Who caused this harm? Let’s say Hamas is bad and we will defeat Hamas.

Eric Goldstein, executive director of the UJA Federation of New York, one of the event’s organizers, said the UJA recognizes “that there are many Jews in our community who have disagreements about which path to take.” to be continued “.

“But the important thing today is to put these differences aside and come together in recognition of the critical importance of standing proudly and publicly in support of a Jewish homeland,” he added.

Israel faces huge international criticism over its invasion of Gaza, which began in October following Hamas attacks on Israel in October. 7, which killed approximately 1,200 Israelis. Since the start of the war, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed.

Around 125 living and dead hostages remain in Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.

Noam Safir, 20, whose grandfather, Shlomo Mantzur, is one of the hostages, flew from Israel to New York to watch the parade.

MS. Safir said that “being here is screaming, shouting to represent” her grandfather and the other hostages.

From M. When Mantzur returned, she said: “If I have no hope, then who will?

“It’s very impressive to see this support,” she added.

At a news conference Saturday evening, Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban said law enforcement had not received any credible threats regarding the parade.

But the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, has spread anti-Israel propaganda online in recent weeks targeting the event, prompting law enforcement to implement measures strict security, said Rebecca Weiner, head of ISIS’s intelligence office. Police Department.

During the parade, police helicopters and drones flew overhead while police dogs and hundreds of officers, including those from the department’s counterterrorism office, patrolled the area.

Sunday afternoon, the parade remained peaceful. Along the route of Fifth Avenue, which stretched from 56th Street in Midtown to 74th Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, hundreds of demonstrators waved Israel’s blue and white flag while Others draped it over their shoulders.

In some areas, the crowds were so dense that people tripped over each other trying to get around Fifth Avenue. Leaflets stuck on lampposts featured photographs of the hostages and the words “kidnapped by Hamas” or “murdered by Hamas.”

Lev Tsitrin, 59, originally from Belarus and now living in Brooklyn, said he has attended several Israel Day parades. But this year, he said, “It was up to me to show my support.”

The war and heightened security on Fifth Avenue stood in stark contrast to past parades. “It’s generally more festive. It’s tense this year,” Mr. Tsitrin said, adding: “People are upset because it’s very serious. It’s life and death.

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