Thousands march on D.C. as Israeli raid kills another 274 Palestinians
Demonstrators carry a red banner representing a 'red line' in front of the White House in Washington, Saturday, June 8, 2024.| Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Massive street protests erupted worldwide after the Israeli military killed 274 Palestinians in the Nuseirat refugee camp as part of a “hostage rescue operation” in Gaza. Four Israeli captives taken prisoner by Hamas on Oct. 7 were recovered in the maneuver, amounting to 68 people killed for every individual extracted. The mass killing pushes the Gaza war death toll, already at over 36,000, even higher.

The rescue-operation-turned-massacre was met with praise from President Joe Biden and other Israeli allies and came immediately after the leaders of the U.S. Congress set July 24 as the date they will host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an honored guest. It has also likely sunk negotiations between Israel and Hamas for a ceasefire.

In the U.S. capital, tens of thousands of people surrounded the White House Saturday to demand the Biden administration immediately halt weapons shipments to Israel and stop enabling the genocide in Gaza.

A giant banner, reportedly nearly two miles long and listing the name of every Palestinian known to have been killed since Oct. 7, snaked through the streets of the city.

The D.C. demonstration, dubbed the “People’s Red Line,” in reference to Biden’s empty threat to trim aid to Netanyahu if he “crossed the red line” of attacking Rafah, saw thousands converge on the president’s home. Expressing the anger toward Biden that demonstrators feel, a marcher from Iowa, Arianna Streeter-Floyd, said, “He chooses to keep silent.”

Silence was the administration’s response to Saturday’s protests, as well. No statement or acknowledgment was issued, even as the windows of the White House rattled from the roar of the demonstration outside.

For months, the ceasefire movement has been pressuring Biden to change his Gaza policy with protests, petitions, resolutions, and “vote uncommitted” campaigns in the Democratic presidential primary.

Though these actions have prompted changes in rhetoric by U.S. officials, including a belated call for some form of ceasefire, and forced symbolic pauses on a few weapons shipments, overall, the president has not altered course.

Speaking about the war at the Communist Party USA’s National Convention in Chicago this weekend, Co-Chair Joe Sims said Biden’s refusal to budge has dire consequences for not just Gazans but also the people of the U.S.

“The battle lines are clear. We’re fighting a fascist danger at home and a genocidal war abroad. And to defeat the danger at home, we’ve got to defeat the war abroad,” Sims said. The Democratic president’s Israel policy continues to take Palestinian lives while increasing the odds of Trump returning to power, Sims argued.

“Let’s make it plain, Biden’s Israel policy must be defeated today so that” Trump and MAGA can be defeated tomorrow.” Sims told the assembled CPUSA delegates and a national online audience: “We have to keep the pressure on. In fact, turn it up, turn it way up! Mass public pressure is the only thing this ruling class understands.”

U.S. support for Israel goes beyond providing weapons and diplomatic cover, however. According to Axios, personnel linked to a “U.S. hostage cell” operating on the ground in Israel also “supported the effort to rescue the four hostages.” Further details on how many U.S. personnel were involved, their military affiliation (if any), and exact role have yet to be disclosed or discovered.

Many allege that footage of the raid convoy filmed by Al Jazeera depicts Israeli counter-terrorism forces using trucks that look like aid delivery vehicles to carry out the operation. The Israel Defense Forces denied such claims, dismissing them as “lies spread by Hamas media,” a frequent response to past proof of atrocities carried out by the IDF.

Video circulating online claims to show an Israeli military helicopter evacuating rescued captives on the beach in Gaza right beside the U.S.-built ‘humanitarian aid pier.’ | Screenshot via The Palestine Chronicle

After the Israeli commandos made their way into the complexes where the captives were held, hundreds of soldiers and armored battalions then blasted into the area. Video posted online by The Palestine Chronicle depicts what appears to be a hostage airlift via military helicopter right beside the U.S. military’s “humanitarian pier” on the beach in Gaza.

Some believe there may be even more direct U.S. involvement. Analyst Vijay Prashad called the raid an “act of terror,” and accused Biden of using the pier “to sneak U.S. troops in an aid truck to join” in the Israeli operation. While no evidence can yet confirm Prashad’s allegation, speculation and conspiracies are spreading fast alleging that aid delivery pier is doubling as a staging point for U.S. military assistance to Israeli military maneuvers in Gaza.

In the wake of the swirling rumors, the U.N. World Food Program announced Sunday it will stop using the pier for now because of security concerns. Director Cindy McCain said she was “concerned for the safety of our people after the incident,” she said. Two WFP warehouses were also blown up this weekend, McCain said.

The pier has hardly delivered any aid since it was built in mid-May. After operating for less than a week, it was damaged by a storm and only came back online Saturday—the day of Israel’s hostage rescue operation.

Palestinians survey the damage and look for victims in the aftermath of the Israeli bombing in Nuseirat refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Saturday, June 8, 2024. | Jehad Alshrafi / AP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, is demanding an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the massacre at Nuseirat. He said there must be immediate “international intervention” to halt the catastrophe in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

“Israel continues to exploit international silence and U.S. support to perpetrate crimes that violate all international legitimacy resolutions and international law,” Abbas declared.

Ayman Odeh, a member of the Israeli Knesset for the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) coalition, slammed the Israeli media’s propagandistic praise for the action in Gaza Saturday. “When Israelis finally see themselves in the mirror that the world has given them, they will discover very difficult sights…ones that are not shown to them in the news,” he said.

Back in D.C., one participant, Aiya, told media it’s important to show Gazans that “they are not alone.” A leader in the George Washington University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, she was involved in the GWU’s campus encampment before it was attacked and cleared by police several weeks ago.

Aiya said, “We say at campus protests, ‘We will not rest till you divest,’ and we mean that. We have been out here tirelessly…how could we tire when we see the people of Gaza endure literally hell on Earth.”


C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left.