Thousands of people took the streets Monday in Beverly Hills to rally in support of Israel after the bloody surprise attack by Hamas on Israeli soil over the weekend, prompting Israeli officials to declare war against the militant group.
A sea of Israeli flags could be seen at Beverly Gardens Park where demonstrators, many with friends and family directly impacted by the crisis in Israel, spilled onto the street, overtaking westbound lanes of Santa Monica Boulevard. Police worked to clear the demonstrators out of the roadway.
As Israel goes on the offensive against Hamas, some of the rally-goers said their loved ones in Israel are being called up for reserve duty, while others told KTLA that they lost loved ones in Saturday’s terrorist attack where the death toll stands at 900 Israeli lives lost. At least 100 people, including Americans, have been kidnapped and taken hostage.
“We want to come together, we want to be together, we want to hug each other. We want to comfort each other at this time of just heart-wrenching grief,” Elan Carr, the CEO of the Israeli American Council, said. “But the other reason is that we are here to stand unequivocally with Israel and to stand for Israel’s inalienable right to defend itself fully, completely and decisively and that’s critical.”
Israeli citizen Orit Nissan Greenfield told KTLA that it’s important that so many people showed up for the rally in support of Israel.
“It’s so moving to see it,” she said, “and I know how meaningful it is for the people in Israel to see the Jews across the world support them because we feel isolated, and we don’t feel supported. We feel that we will always be criticized for what we do to protect ourselves.”
The L.A. chapter of the Israel American Council organized Monday’s rally, one of three gatherings and vigils held since Saturday’s attack.
Law enforcement officials have also said there is heightened security in and around local Jewish institutions, synagogues and schools. The community security initiative through the Jewish Federation said it is also monitoring online threats and working with law enforcement to increase in-person patrols as well.