By the thousands they packed Eisenhower Park Tuesday evening — scores of Long Islanders and others — showing support for Israel and its people, condemning "the face of evil" as the nation battles Hamas militants, and donating needed supplies for the suddenly war-ravaged U.S. ally.
The rally, the largest on Long Island since the conflict broke out Saturday on Israel's border with Gaza, attracted residents of all ages, many waving miniature Israeli flags and wearing caps, distributed by organizers, that read: "Never Again."
All the while, a phalanx of Nassau County police patrolled the area, keeping watch on the parking lot and park perimeter.
Marybeth Savia, 58, of Massapequa, held a sign with both the American and Israeli flags.
"I'm sick to my stomach what's going on," Savia said. "It's horrible and I'm tired of what they're doing to the Jewish people … Israelites are peaceful people. Israel is the homeland of the Jews. I'm tired and fed up the way they've been abused."
County officials estimated that roughly 6,000 people attended the rally at the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre in East Meadow.
Among the items collected were hygiene products, gloves and knee pads, batteries, headlamps and sleeping bags.
Rabbi Anchelle Perl of Chabad of Mineola said the size of the rally showed how Long Islanders can stand in solidarity through action.
“We are rallying behind our brothers and, no matter our religious affiliation, no matter our political persuasions, we come together in our desire to support the people of Israel,” Perl said. “It is clear to all this is a war against evil. We're all called upon to participate in the spiritual battle against evil by increasing acts of goodness and kindness.”
Saturday’s attack “was one of the most horrific, brutal terror acts in modern human history,” said Yuval Donio-Gideon, the Consul for Public Diplomacy at the Consulate General of Israel in Manhattan.
In total, more than 1,000 Israelis were killed in the attacks, including at least 14 Americans, while hundreds more were injured or abducted by the militants, according to Israeli and administration officials.
“They didn't spare anyone," Donio-Gideon said. "They murdered. They burned. They raped. No mercy. And when you look at the terrible videos that came out of this massacre, you cannot but come to a conclusion. This is the face of evil. This is how pure evil looks and when you encounter evil, you really have no choice, you must confront it."
Donio-Gideon said Israel is not in a war of choice or due to any vindictive reactions.
“It is simply because the state of Israel like any decent state cannot allow such a thing to happen again,” he said. “ … We will win this war because light is stronger than darkness. We will win this war because we are confident in the righteousness of our way and we will win this war thanks to the love and support of Israel’s friends around the world."
Bishop Phillip Elliott of Antioch Baptist Church in Hempstead called on supporters to fight against injustice and terrorism.
“Israel was fired upon but we’re here through faith to make the bold assertion it will backfire,” Elliott said. “It’s a misfire and we will fire back with the weapons of our warfare.”
Sarah Yastrab, 53, of Woodmere, said she and her daughter Gila, 15, came to support the people of Israel because "their lives are being disrupted. We're standing together. They need to not feel alone and people need to know America stands with them."
The attack "was Israel's Pearl Harbor, a sneak attack. But instead of targeting a military institution, it targeted children,” said Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. “We do not want to hear about restraining Israel. We do not want to hear about de-escalation. We don't want to hear about a measured response. The only thing we want to hear is victory over Hamas.”