White House Braces for Pro-Palestinian Protest with Added Security Measures

Pro-Palestinian activists are set to encircle the White House in a weekend protest demanding an end to the war in Gaza and to American support for Israel. This has led to increased security measures, including the installation of anti-scale fencing. Advocacy groups such as CODEPINK and the Council on American Islamic Relations have organized the demonstrations, marking eight months of conflict in Gaza, which has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and a severe humanitarian crisis.

In the United States, Israel’s key ally, there have been numerous pro-Palestinian protests. These range from marches in Washington and vigils near the White House to blockades of bridges, roads near train stations, and airports in various cities, as well as encampments on many college campuses. At least eight officials have resigned from President Joe Biden’s administration due to opposition to his policies, and protesters have disrupted some of his reelection campaign events. Biden is currently on an official visit to France.

A US Secret Service spokesperson stated, “In preparation for the events this weekend in Washington, DC, that have the potential for large crowds to gather, additional public safety measures have been put in place near the White House complex.” While Biden and the White House have expressed support for peaceful protests, they have condemned “chaos” and violence. University protests have sometimes turned violent, leading to police arrests to clear encampments. For example, anti-war activists at UCLA were attacked by a mob weeks ago.

There is also concern about rising antisemitism and Islamophobia amid the conflict. The war began on October 7 when Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist militant group, attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 hostages, according to Israeli reports. Israel’s subsequent assault on Gaza has killed over 36,000 people, displaced nearly the entire 2.3 million population, and led to genocide allegations that Israel denies. As of Friday, efforts to renew a ceasefire appeared to be stalled.

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