The March for Israel in NYC is focused on solidarity this year as the Gaza war casts a dire shadow

NEW YORK (AP) — Demonstrators chanted for the release of hostages In Gaza Thousands of people were drawn under heightened security to a New York City march for Israel on Sunday.

The march comes nearly eight months after Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 offensive. Deadliest in Israel’s history. Annual parade In the past It’s called “Celebrate Israel,” but organizers said the spirited atmosphere will be dampened this year because of the ongoing war and hostage-taking in Gaza and outbreaks of anti-Semitism around the world.

People “bring them home now!” This year is called “Fifth Israel Day,” waving Israeli flags while marching down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Crowds of onlookers and hundreds of police officers lined the route, and iron barricades were erected along the sidewalk.

“Especially this year, after Oct. 7, this show of solidarity is so important,” said Rena Orman of the Bronx. “Everybody wants the hostages back. Everyone wants this to end. No one cheers for this. Everyone wants peace.

Mark Traeger, CEO of the Council on Jewish Community Relations, said earlier this week that the event will focus on unity, strength and resilience.

“It’s not a mood of confetti and music,” Traeger said. “It is a spirit of unwavering, iron-clad unity for them to bring hostages home, and our unwavering love and pride in our Jewish identity.”

The march, now in its 59th year, began at 11:30 a.m. Sunday and was expected to draw more than 40,000 participants, including Israeli dignitaries, New York elected officials, celebrities and some families of hostages.

There was no intention of canceling the parade this year, Dreger said, despite what he said was an astronomical rise in anti-Semitism.

“It’s time for us to meet,” he said.

But there was significant protection.

New York Police Department officials said Friday they plan to implement measures typically used for high-profile events such as New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. This includes drones, K-9 units, bike patrols, fences and barriers, and designated entry points for visitors. On the parade route.

Backpacks, large bags and coolers are prohibited. Spectators must pass through metal detectors and are only allowed to line the east side of Fifth Avenue, with police blocking off the west side.

City officials insisted Friday that there were no specific or credible threats to the march or the city, and that any protesters had the right to demonstrate as long as it was peaceful.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams told a security briefing that “we are not going to allow any illegality and any disruption of celebrating someone’s heritage in this city.”

The march represented the first large-scale Jewish event in the city since the war began, although there have been about 2,800 protests in the city, about 1,300 of which were related to the conflict, according to the Democrat.

Israel faces development International Review over its attack on Gaza A huge cost in public life. Israeli bombings and ground attacks in the besieged territory have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians. According to Gaza’s Ministry of HealthIt does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

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