WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Elliot Yadin of Maryland held up an American flag high over his head with an Israeli one draped over his back during a pro-Israeli rally in D.C. Friday.
Yadin attended a pro-Israel rally in D.C.’s Freedom Plaza that brought hundreds of people crowded into the park near the White House. The rally featured some of the DMV’s top elected officials and faith-based leaders.
He said it’s a feeling of pride to be an American, Jewish and a supporter of Israel in its battle against Hamas militants.
“I believe the U.S. has a responsibility and a duty to be friendly with and support Israel throughout its struggles because it is truly the only democracy in the Middle East,” he added.
Yadin said he has relatives and friends in Israel, which has declared war on Hamas. So far, well over a thousand Israelis have been killed in surprise attacks last weekend and many others – including Americans – have also been taken hostage.
The rally was co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, intending to drum up support for its war against Hamas, organizers said.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore began the first speech of the rally, telling those in attendance the importance of Americans to have Israel’s back.
“I’m here to say very clearly, we are here to stand with the state of Israel,” Moore said. “To recognize the rights of Israel to exist, to recognize the right of Israel to defend itself, to recognize the right of Israelis to live without fear. But today it’s time for us to stand with Israel. it’s also time for us to stand unequivocally against Hamas.”
Joining Moore were a bevy of elected officials from the DMV including Maryland’s Democratic congressional delegation and members of D.C.’s city council.
Other rally-goers like Kate Ottenberg said she came out to support the Jewish people locally and show support for Israel.
“It was meaningful to attend the rally today and hear the speakers really speak in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish community,” D.C. resident Ottenberg said. “Also to make clear that we’re devastated by the civilian causalities and Palestinian causalities and we’re not at war with them.”
But Israel has declared war against Hamas militants who carried out a surprise attack last weekend that reportedly caught the Israeli security forces off guard.
Laura Fuentes, of D.C., was slated to be in Israel with her boyfriend for a wedding this week but the conflict kept her from flying to the Middle East. She attended the rally also draped in an Israeli flag.
“He was like, ‘You’re not going to be able to come anymore,'” she said.
Fuentes said she was heartbroken. Her boyfriend is still in Jerusalem, and she’s concerned for his safety.
“I was frustrated and I was worried for him because he’s there right now,” she said.
With these rising tensions, supporters of Israel are also worried about the future in the Middle East escalating to more violence. Israeli officials have promised to go into Gaza to root out Hamas.
“They say there’s a time for war and a time for peace,” Yadin said. “It’s unfortunate and it’s sad and that this feels like it’s a time for war.”