More than 1,000 people gathered in Mineola Sunday for a pro-Palestinian rally, calling for an end to the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.
The protest, organized by the Muslim Community of Nassau County and held in front of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building on Franklin Avenue in Mineola, came one week after the conflict between Israel and Hamas reached a new level.
Hamas, an Iran-funded terrorist group that controls Gaza, launched a surprise attack on Oct. 7, storming Israeli towns across the border.
Over 2,759 people in Gaza have died with over 9,700 injured from the Israeli attacks in response to last weekend, AP reported Tuesday, before the rocket explosion at a crowded hospital in Gaza. More than 1,400 Israelis have died, the news agency said.
Sunday’s event began with a prayer on the lawn of the county’s executive building. Among the protesters in the large crowd were signs saying “No Water. No Food. No Humility,” “Free Palestine,” and “How many kids need to be murdered,” alongside attendees draped in the Palestinian flag.
Abdul Aziz Bhuiyan, the chairman of New Hyde Park’s Hillside Islamic Center, acknowledged those killed and hurt in the attacks and subsequent retaliation by Israel.
“We mourn and pray for the innocent lives lost, children and elderly, injured, and displaced people in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza,” Bhuiyan said Sunday.
The chairman said the war is not a distant conflict we can watch on our screens but a humanitarian crisis that calls to his conscience.
“The relentless bombings, the disproportionate attacks on civilians, the forced displacement of civilians, and the ongoing blockade have turned Gaza into an open-air prison,” Bhuiyan said. “It is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue.”
Bhuiyan also called on President Joe Biden to intervene to stop the bombing and protect the civilians in Gaza.
Many event organizers condemned the violence by Hamas while also saying the events were part of a “resistance” to Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and what they said were human rights violations.
The Israel Defense Forces said at least 199 hostages were taken by Hamas in the attacks and are believed to be in Gaza, according to multiple reports. Among the hostages are two alumni from the Schechter School of Long Island in Williston Park.
One of the hostages, Omer Neutra, 22, of Plainview, last spoke to his parents on Oct. 6, according to The New York Times. The name of the other hostage who graduated from the Williston Park school is yet to be released.
Isma Chaudhry, the president of the Westbury-based Islamic Center of Long Island, spoke against Hamas’ violence while acknowledging the oppression faced by Palestinians.
“The loss of one human life is a shame to all humanity,” Chaudhry said, according to Newsday. “The [United States’] position is very one-sided.”