Demonstrators rally in front of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative...

Demonstrators rally in front of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building on Franklin Avenue in Mineola on Sunday to show support for Palestinians. Credit: Jeff Bachner

At least 1,500 people gathered in Mineola on Sunday for a pro-Palestinian rally, waving flags and placards and calling for an end to Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip.

The protest took place a week after the militant group Hamas invaded Israel and killed at least 1,400 people in the worst one-day loss of life in Israel since its founding in 1948.

Many of the speakers and rallygoers condemned the violence by Hamas, but others framed it as part of a “resistance” to Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and what they described as decades of human rights abuses.

Israel-Hamas war

On Oct. 7, 2023, the Hamas militant group launched an attack on Israel, which resulted in thousands of deaths and casualties. In response, Israel declared war and began its own assault on Hamas. Here's the latest on the war:

The latest: Israeli airstrike in central Gaza kills one of Hamas' top militant commanders

On Long Island, the war has prompted both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine rallies, while many have sought to provide aid to Israel, including a Lloyd Harbor teen who started a fundraiser to help families of fallen Israeli cops.

How did we get here? Here are some answers to questions about the Mideast conflict.

Click here for complete coverage of the war.

Some protesters draped Palestinian flags around their shoulders, while others waved signs declaring “Free Palestine,” “End the Occupation. End the Genocide,” and “No Water. No Food. No Humanity” — a reference to Israel cutting off supplies to Gaza following the attack in apparent preparation for a major counteroffensive.

Demonstrators attend a rally in Mineola on Sunday in support...

Demonstrators attend a rally in Mineola on Sunday in support of Palestinians. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Israel has argued that its moves against Gaza are justified after hundreds of civilians including babies and concertgoers were murdered.

The protest in front of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building on Franklin Avenue drew a heavy police presence, but there were no reported incidents.

Abdul Aziz Bhuiyan, one of the main organizers of the event, told the boisterous crowd, “We mourn and pray for the innocent lives lost, children and elderly, injured and displaced people in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.”

He noted that nearly 2,700 Palestinians have now been killed by the Israeli bombings.

Members of the Muslim community pray on the lawn in...

Members of the Muslim community pray on the lawn in front of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola before a rally Sunday in support of Palestinians. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Bhuiyan, a leader of the Hillside Islamic Center mosque in New Hyde Park, called on President Joe Biden and the United States to intervene to stop the bombing “and protect the lives of innocent civilians in Gaza.” The bombings, the displacement of civilians and the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza have turned it “into an open-air prison,” he said.

“We stand in solidarity with the Palestinians in their quest for freedom, dignity and human rights,” he said. “We stand against any form of hatred, antisemitism, or Islamophobia.”

Dr. Isma Chaudry, a leader of the Westbury-based Islamic Center of Long Island mosque, said she condemned the violence by Hamas but noted that the Palestinians have suffered decades of oppression by Israel.

“The loss of one human life is a shame of all humanity,” she said. But “at this time the U.S. position is very one-sided,” in focusing on the suffering of Israel but not the Palestinians.

While she criticized Hamas’ violence, others seemed to suggest it was an open question. One speaker led a chant, “Resistance is justified when people are occupied.”

Laurice Abdelhalim, 46, a resident of Brentwood who said she is of Palestinian descent, said she came to the rally to support to the Palestinian cause and call for an end to the violence.

“It’s really sad what is going on and I hope it ends,” she said. “We want to end the occupation. We just want our country back.”

The rally also attracted non-Muslims who said they wanted to support the Palestinians.

Nia Adams, a community activist, condemned Hamas’ violence but also said she saw parallels between Blacks in the United States and Palestinians, whom she believes are living in a type of “apartheid.”

“I feel a deep sorrow for the atrocities that are happening to thousands of innocent people … within occupied Palestine,” she said. “And I feel that the liberation of Palestinians and that of Black people are intricately connected and I cannot be complicit and stand by as innocent people are murdered.”

“What I see is oppressed people experiencing apartheid ... and being motivated by that,” she said.

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