Since October 7, large, pulsing crowds have gathered at rallies around the world, holding signs and chanting to convey their simmering frustration, outrage and fear over the ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas and the resulting casualties.
CNN spoke to some demonstrators at recent pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli rallies to better understand why thousands have joined marches and what those in attendance hope to accomplish.
Here’s what they said:
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators: Elizabeth Oram, a 70-year-old nurse and adjunct lecturer, waved a Palestinian flag during a pro-Palestinian event last Friday night in New York City’s Columbus Circle, her short blonde hair falling onto the top of a white KN95 mask. She said she is a longtime supporter of Palestinian rights and had seen the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories go from “very bad to absolutely barbaric.”
“I’m 70. I need to be able to tell my grandchildren that when this happened, when a genocide happened, that I did not sit still – that I spoke out,” she said. “That’s what I need them to know.”
Sami, a 20-year-old French student at a London university, was visiting New York when he came upon the rally. He told CNN he felt inspired to stay and attend after seeing images of the violence in Gaza on social media.
“I see all the videos and the pictures, and it’s horrible – I see this every day, every time on social media, on Twitter, on Instagram,” he said. “Every day, these atrocities in front of my eyes. I feel a lot of pain for them and I want this massacre and this genocide to stop.”
Protesters criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and accused the country of apartheid and genocide, pushed for a ceasefire in Israel’s military campaign and challenged American leaders to end their support for Israel.
Pro-Israeli demonstrators: At the “March for Israel” held in DC Tuesday, Sara Blau, a student at the University of Maryland, wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the face of Omer Neutra, a high school friend who was kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 and is believed to be held hostage.
Blau said she wanted to join the march “to show my support for Israel. I’m a proud Zionist, a proud Jew and I wanted to be here to support my community.”
Michal and Noam Sheps, a married couple from New Jersey, said they came to show support for the hostages and for Israel.
“We’re one nation and we’re all supporting each other, and we want the hostages to be released. It’s extremely important,” Michal said. “(We’re here) for peace, for the safety of the people that are in Israel and for the hostages.”
Several of the pro-Israeli demonstrators said they had concerns about their personal safety as Jewish Americans. They pushed for Hamas to immediately release the more than 200 hostages who were taken October 7.
Read more on what other protesters had to say.