Hundreds protest Gaza incursion at Los Angeles Israeli consulate

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Westbound lanes of Wilshire Boulevard were briefly closed Sunday as a crowd of several hundred protesters marched to the Israeli consulate in West Los Angeles. 

The crowd gathered at 3 p.m. at the Federal Building nearby to voice their opposition to the Israeli incursion into Gaza that has left over 430 Palestinians and 20 Israelis dead. The building has been the scene of protests in support and opposition to Israel in recent weeks, including a pro-Israel rally that ended in violence earlier this month after pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli attendees clashed.

Protesters carried Palestinian flags and chanted "Free, free Palestine" and "Stop Israeli genocide" as LAPD officers escorted them to the consulate. Several carried fake bodies wrapped in sheets — mirroring similar scenes from protests in Palestine. 

Abdull Barakat, a student at Moorpark College in Simi Valley, told KPCC he's been rattled by the conversations he's had with relatives in Gaza since the recent fighting broke out.

"I talked to my uncle, my aunts, grandparents from Palestine yesterday night and all I hear is gunshots, I hear bombing, shells," he said, adding that his grandparents are having a particularly difficult time. "They don't know when their last day is. So they're crying and saying their last wishes and last words. It's just sad."

Jamal Barakat agreed.

"There's two sides to every story and unfortunately only one side gets told here, in my opinion," he said. "If you're 7, 8 years-old in Gaza, this is the third major airstrikes you've lived through. Imagine the kind of effects that has on a population." 

Pakistani-American Sadia Kahn said she came from the Inland Empire to voice her concern for Gaza's civilian population. 

"There are children, there are women, there are innocent people who are dying here. And life should not be wasted," she said. "I understand that there's whole thing with Hamas and with terrorism, but to kill innocent people — that is just not human."

In another reminder of Southern California's ties to the Middle East, the Israeli Defense Forces announced a soldier killed overnight was a volunteer from Woodland Hills. 

Sunday's rally was largely peaceful. 

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