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Hundreds protest Israeli attacks on Palestinian territories at Wilshire Federal Building

Hundreds demonstrated at the Wilshire Federal Building on Saturday, protesting Israeli violence in Palestinian territories. (Anika Chakrabarti/Daily Bruin staff)

By Arya Goyal and Justin Jung

May 15, 2021 5:56 p.m.

This post was updated May 16 at 9:40 p.m.

Hundreds gathered near the Wilshire Federal Building on Saturday in protest of Israeli attacks and forced evictions in Palestinian territories. 

Protesters carried signs reading “Free Palestine” and shouted chants such as “Long live the intifada” as they marched down Westwood Boulevard toward the 405 Freeway and to Granville Avenue. “Intifada” is an Arabic word referring to Palestinian resistance against Israel. 

The unrest in Israel and Gaza has grown in recent weeks after Israel launched airstrikes against Palestinian-civilian-populated targets and Hamas, a pro-Palestine organization with an armed wing, launched rocket attacks into Israel, according to The Associated Press. At least 126 have died in Gaza and seven in Israel as of May 14, the AP also reported. 

The demonstrators began gathering at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Veteran Avenue around noon Saturday. They chanted “When people are occupied, resistance is justified,” and “We will chant in jubilation until freedom and liberation.” 

Around 1:30 p.m., the protesters began marching down Wilshire Boulevard toward the 405 Freeway, where they briefly crossed the bridge overlooking the freeway. Shortly after, they descended from the bridge and continued marching to Granville Avenue before returning toward the Wilshire Federal Building. 

By 3:15 p.m., most of the protesters had dispersed, with a few dozen still chanting “Free, free Palestine.”

At least 10 Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department vehicles and dozens of uniformed officers in riot gear were deployed to monitor the protest from all four sides of the Wilshire-Veteran intersection. 

One platoon from the sheriff’s response team and two squads from the mobile field force were deployed to the protest, said LASD spokesperson Gabriel Akychyan.

Lulu Alshami, one of the protest’s organizers from the Palestinian Youth Movement, said the protest commemorated the 73rd anniversary of Al Nakba, when a majority of Palestinians were permanently displaced from their homes during the creation of the state of Israel. “Al Nakba” is an Arabic word meaning catastrophe. 

Alshami also said she was protesting U.S. contributions of more than $3 billion per year to Israel as it attacks civilians in Gaza. 

“We give billions of dollars to them, so we feed into the occupation whether we’re doing it directly or not through our tax dollars,” Alshami said. “So I think we all deserve to have a say on what’s happening in Palestine and stand up for the liberation of the Palestinian people.” 

The U.S. contributed about $3.3 billion to Israel in foreign aid in 2019, with more than 99% going to defense spending, according to the United States Agency for International Development, a federal agency for civilian foreign aid. 

John Eric Narot, a protester, said he has been participating in protests against injustice for decades, and that it’s important for revolutionary socialists like himself to show solidarity with Palestinians. 

Narot said some Palestinians have shown solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, noting that a mural of George Floyd was painted onto the West Bank separation barrier between Israel and Palestinian territories. George Floyd was a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody in May 2020 and whose death sparked worldwide protests against racial injustice.

Tatiana Vargas, another demonstrator, said she has been coming to local protests with her father for years. Vargas also said Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza. Allegations of war crimes are currently under review by the International Criminal Court, an international tribunal with jurisdiction over war crimes.

The ICC began investigating alleged war crimes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in March, following nearly five years of preliminary inquiries, according to Reuters. Individuals involved in the recent escalation of conflict may be reviewed under the ongoing investigation, the ICC top prosecutor told Reuters. 

Contributing reports by Anika Chakrabarti, Daily Bruin staff.

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Arya Goyal
Justin Jung | City and crime editor
Jung is the 2021-2022 assistant News editor for the city and crime beat and was previously the assistant Enterprise editor. He is also a photographer and Copy contributor for the Daily Bruin. Jung is a third-year global studies and geography student.
Jung is the 2021-2022 assistant News editor for the city and crime beat and was previously the assistant Enterprise editor. He is also a photographer and Copy contributor for the Daily Bruin. Jung is a third-year global studies and geography student.
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