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Far away from Gaza, a showdown in NYC's Times Square

Hundreds protest in New York City in solidarity with Palestinians after another week of bloodshed in the Gaza Strip.

by Azad Essa

A dozen speakers, made up of community leaders, activists and academics, raised the ante of a boisterous crowd by linking the Palestinian struggle to the global fight against capitalism, racism, inequality and injustice.

Shellyne Rodrigruez, a teacher and artist, told Al Jazeera that she was at the rally "to make sure that the Palestine issue would not be made invisible".

"It is outrageous that colonialism would still exist in 2018; It is long overdue that Palestine is recognised and that their struggle against apartheid is recognised,"the 40-year-old from the Bronx said.

Likewise, Marshall Douglas, a 67-year-old US citizen, said that "Israel had to be recognised for what it was: a sadistic state".

"What happened earlier this week shows that Israel wants to close off any form of Palestinian expression. This is grossly unfair. It just has to be rectified," Douglass said.

The march on Friday also comes alongside a series of activities and events held in New York and elsewhere in response to the recent incidents in Gaza.

The movement IfNotNow, a Jewish movement that focusses on urging Jewish Americans to withdraw support for Israel's continued occupation of Palestinan territory, also held a vigil on Friday night for Palestinians killed in Gaza.

The group said in a statement that they were gathering to "mourn the Palestinians killed by the Israeli army and make it clear that the future of the Jewish community rejects Israel's horrific, deadly violence and the further entrenchment of the Occupation".

While outrage and demands for accountability over the killings in Gaza continued to grow, there were others who came out to show support for Israel, describing the killings as self-defence.

Small counter rally

Across the picket line from the Palestinian rally on 42nd Street and Broadway on Friday, about 20 people held a counter rally in support of Israel.

Some protesters screamed expletives at the Palestinian supporters, calling the diverse crowd "Hamas sympathisers" and "anti-Semites". Others screamed "Jerusalem is Jewish", "F*** Palestine" and "All of you under the shoe".

Elise Nahum, 47, who described herself as a "Puerto Rican Jew", claimed that most at the Palestinian rally were paid to be there. "It's always the same people who come to protest against Israel," she told Al Jazeera.

"And look, we are not looking for trouble. Trump kept his promise to move the embassy and did it. We want to live in peace and there are Arabs and Israelis who live in peace in Israel. These [here] are just troublemakers," Nahrum said.

Another protester, Ariel Kohane, 47, holding a "Jews for Trump" poster, said that "these supporters of Palestine were simply against peace".

"Israeli soldiers bend over backwards not to hurt anyone. Only as a last resort do Israeli soldiers open fire on Palestinians," Nahrum Kohane told Al Jazeera.

Responding to the claims of the Israelis, Douglass shakes his head and says that Israeli excuses for their violent actions were running thin.

"They aren't allowed to fight, they aren't allowed to protest peacefully … even if they throw molotov cocktails, everyone knows it is mostly symbolic, these don't hurt or impact anyone," Douglass says.

Looking on at the handful of Israeli hecklers that looked to disrupt the Palestinian rally, Iris Tatian, clutching on tightly to her Israeli flag splattered with red paint stains, says that she feels pity for protesters across the road, "on the wrong side of history".

"They are uninformed and therefore fearful. They have been sold the Israeli narrative of victimhood. And in the end, they are just doing what was done to them," Tatiane says.

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