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Activists Form ‘Red Line’ Around White House In Gaza Protest

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators surrounded the White House with a red banner to symbolise Biden allowing Israel to cross a red line with its invasion of Rafah.

Tens of thousands of people from across the US gathered near the White House on Saturday to demand an end to US support for Israel’s war in Gaza, highlighting US President Joe Biden’s stated position of an invasion of Rafah being a red line.

In response to Israel’s recent invasion of Rafah, what many see as Biden not holding firm on his word, the demonstrators made a two-mile-long human “red line” around the White House, wearing red shirts and holding a red banner that they slowly unfurled from the White House gate, down Constitution Avenue and back around to the front entrance.

“They made a full line around the White House. They’re sending the message that a red line has been crossed. It’s a red line that has been articulated by the Biden administration,” Al-Sharif Nassef, co-founder of 99 Coalition, an endorser of the demonstration, told The New Arab.

“The American people have had enough of billions of our tax dollars going to Israel, when we have teachers who are taking on second jobs, when we have students who are under mountains of debt,” he said.

He emphasised that he sees US support for Israel as linked US social justice as well as to the global environment, given the US government’s minimal spending for social welfare programmes and the high level of pollution cause by warfare — a sentiment shared by many in the anti-Gaza war movement.

Saturday’s demonstration was one of the largest of its kind since the outbreak of the war eight months ago. The last one took place in early March, days ahead of a deadline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had set for an invasion of Rafah.

With the Israeli ground invasion of Rafah having underway, activists see the demonstration as more urgent than ever to show the US administration that the American public oppose Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Indeed, multiple polls have shown the majority of Americans supporting a ceasefire in Gaza, and a growing number of Americans, including many Jews, oppose Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians and support ending US military aid to Israel.

“As a Jewish person, I was raised on the concept of pikuach nefesh [in Hebrew], the importance of all life, the saving of all life,” Scout Bratt, an organiser with the Chicago chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, told TNA. “Life being sacred, all life being sacred, is to me a central motivator for us as Jews coming out.”

The demonstration drew people from a variety of backgrounds, many of them connecting their identities with their support for Palestinians. With Pride month under way, some carried signs reading: “No Pride in Genocide, and some held signs reading: Jews say not in our name.”

Since Hamas’s 7 October surprise attack on Israel, which killed around 1,200 people, Israel has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and wounded more than 85,000. The continuous bombings have decimated the besieged enclave’s healthcare infrastructure, school system, and sanitation network. Malnutrition and hygiene-related illnesses are increasingly commonplace.

At 4 pm, demonstrators walked to the Ellipse for a mock trial of US and Israeli leaders, in which testimonies of Palestinians who had lost loved ones in Israel’s bombing of Gaza were read.

As the evening continued, reports came in from across the country of new pro-Palestinian encampments in public spaces in honour of Al-Nuseirat camp in Gaza, where an Israeli attack had killed 210 Palestinians earlier in the day. At the Ellipse, students set up tents for a new encampment.

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