Hundreds fill Times Square for rival protests over violence in Israel

Violence in the Middle East reverberated Sunday in Times Square, where pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters came face to face during heated demonstrations.

The pro-Palestinian protest, coming a day after Hamas launched a brutal surprise attack on Israeli civilians, drew condemnation from elected officials including Gov. Hochul, who condemned the event as “abhorrent and morally repugnant.”

Hundreds of protesters filled Times Square to voice support for Palestinians on Sunday afternoon, chanting phrases like, “Resistance is justified when people are occupied!”

“The Palestinians have been under occupation for more than 60 years according to international law, they have every right to defend themselves,” said Anne Lamb, 68.

“There’s been an injustice towards Palestinian people,” said Dave Schmauch, 59.

“I don’t condone terrorism and killing of innocent people but [when] I think about the conditions that people in Gaza lived under for generations now, I think I might do the same thing because there’s nothing left to lose,” he added.

The rally appeared to divide New York Democrats, with pols including Bronx Rep. Ritchie Torres blasting the New York City chapter of Democratic Socialists of America for organizing the demo so soon after Palestinian militants killed about 700 Israelis and took at least 150 others hostage.

“The NYC-DSA is planning to hold a rally … glorifying the terrorism of Hamas as ‘resistance,'” the congressman wrote Saturday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “Never mind the hundreds of Israeli civilians and children who have been murdered, wounded, abducted, and terrorized. Their lives mean nothing to the DSA. Nothing.”

He called the NYC-DSA “an antisemitic stain on the soul of America’s largest city.”

The Israeli consulate in New York held its own rally Sunday afternoon on E. 43rd St., steps away from the pro-Palestinian demo where the NYPD had put up barricades.

“Kids, children, taken them into Gaza, desecration dead bodies in the streets — it’s disgusting,” said Orah Burack, 56.

No violence was reported at either event, though tensions were high. A man who gave his name as Aviv, 45, voiced outrage at the pro-Palestinian protest.

“It’s just ridiculous, I can’t believe they are standing here after slaughtering people,” he said. “Have some reverence. Let people mourn. How dare you!”

In a briefing with city officials on Sunday, Mayor Adams said the NYPD has not heard of any threats to New York but would send additional resources to potential hot spots.

“Every citizen is going to get the proper protection,” Adams said.

Tempers briefly flared when the briefing opened to questions, with Councilman Ari Kagan blasting DSA for planning the rally and calling on his DSA-affiliated colleagues to denounce it, a source told the Daily News.

Alexa Aviles, a DSA-endorsed council member, pushed back, telling Kagan, “No one — including the DSA — is celebrating death” and calling his comments “irresponsible and disgusting,” according to the source familiar with the call.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared the country formally at war, and Israel has launched counterstrikes in Palestine that officials there say have killed at least 300 so far.

A tourist from Israel was among the crowd that came out to support her home country.

“What happened in Israel was a national disaster,” said Sarit Kamini, 59.

“They are vicious, crazy, they have no respect to human life,” she said of the attackers. “They don’t deserve a country.”

With News Wire Services