Police temporarily close stretch of 405 freeway as thousands march in pro-Palestinian demonstration – Orange County Register

Thousands marched from the Israeli Consulate in West Los Angeles to the Federal Building in Westwood on Saturday, Oct. 14, forcing the shutdown of part of the 405 Freeway as demonstrators called for Palestinian rights and Israel prepared for a large-scale, coordinated attack against Hamas in the Gaza strip.

The protests joined planned demonstrations in other U.S. cities calling for the liberation of Gaza and of Palestinians.

As they held up signs demanding to “free Palestine” and chanted “Israel, Israel you can’t hide,” Palestinians in Gaza struggled Saturday to flee from areas of their city targeted by the Israeli military. They were grappling with a growing water and medical supply shortage ahead of the expected land offensive a week after Hamas’ bloody, wide-ranging attack into Israel targeting civilians.

From the consulate, Saturday’s demonstration became a march to the Federal Building with thousands filling Wilshire Boulevard holding up Palestinian flags.

While the violence represents a new war in a region that has seen many, their demand was the same as it has been for generations – to free the Palestinian Territories from what the United Nations considers Israeli occupation, despite Israel’s claim otherwise.

Hamas rejects a proposed “two-state solution” – the peace initiative that seeks a Palestinian state established in territory that Israel captured in 1967 – and is sworn to Israel’s destruction. Israel has said a Palestinian state must be demilitarized so as not to threaten Israel.

During the march to the Federal Building, police in riot gear held off marchers from walking onto the 405 after about a dozen tried to get on the busy freeway. A group of five or so appeared to get access to the top of a hill and started waving a flag.

In another encounter, a car waving an Israeli flag drove past and people threw objects at it, grabbed the flag and trampled it.

By 3 p.m., LAPD officers had formed a riot line. But tensions with police appeared to flare again when a man holding an Israeli flag approached some people. Police separated everyone after a few minutes.

A small group of counterprotesters were present on Saturday in West L.A, reflecting Jewish communities in the U.S., France and elsewhere, which have held rallies and vigils in solidarity with Israel after the Hamas attack, the deadliest killing spree against Israeli civilians in the country’s 75-year history.

Jews also gathered at synagogues this weekend for Shabbat services held amid the ongoing war ignited by Hamas militants. Rabbis led prayers of peace and grieved with their congregations. At many synagogues security was tight.

And across the world, where the war is taking place, the violence did not appear to be easing. A humanitarian disaster was looming, United Nations officials warned.

In an update Saturday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said 2,215 civilians, including 724 children and 458 women, have been killed since the conflict broke out one week ago.

Israel’s military said Hamas’ attack and ongoing rocket fire from Gaza had killed more than 1,300 people and left at least 3,200 wounded as of Friday. At least 29 Americans are known to be among the dead, a State Department spokesperson confirmed Saturday

The attacks continued Saturday, with Hamas launching rockets into Israel and Israel carrying out strikes in Gaza.

An Israeli airstrike near the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza killed at least 27 people and wounded another 80, Gaza health authorities said. Most of the victims were women and children, the authorities said. Doctors from Kamal Edwan Hospital shared chaotic footage of charred and disfigured bodies.

It was not clear how many Palestinians remained in northern Gaza by Saturday afternoon, said Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. An estimated 1 million people have been displaced in Gaza in one week, she said.

The is a developing story. Check back for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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