WASHINGTON D.C. (DC News Now)- Thousands of demonstrators marched in support of Palestinians today, calling for a ceasefire of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

The strikes are a retaliatory response to Hamas militants’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which left about 1,400 people dead.

Israeli strikes have killed more than 9,000 Palestinians, demolishing schools, homes and hospitals. 

“This is our message that folks have got to stop the violence and stop the war,” said Joe Rauschenberger. “It’s a humanitarian disaster.”

Rauschenberger’s sister, Emilie, a U.S. citizen, had been stuck in Gaza with her husband and five children. After several failed attempts to leave through the Egypt crossing, the family finally got out of the enclave with the assistance of the U.S. State Department.

“Going to the border four or five times was really demoralizing. The kids didn’t just quite understand the big picture. The ‘how’ and ‘why’ and getting more and more frustrated,” Rauschenberger said.

While Emilie, her husband Muhammed, and their children are in Cairo, they still have loved ones in Gaza who can’t leave. 

Many protesters called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel, ending their march in front of the White House.

Israeli Defense Forces claim the airstrikes are targeting Hamas leaders who are hiding among civilians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said there will not be a ceasefire until Hamas releases Israeli hostages.

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $14.3 billion aid package bill for Israel, though the effort will likely die in the Senate.