Boston supporters of Palestinian cause rally in Copley Square


Camilo Fonseca

Hundreds gathered on the steps of Trinity Church to protest in support of the Palestinian cause.

By Olivia LeDuc, News Editor

Over 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators, including Boston-area students and organizers, protested in Copley Square on Sunday, condemning an uptick in Israeli attacks in the decades-long conflict. 

Israeli police forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the holiest Muslim site in Jerusalem, on April 5, resulting in the arrest of at least 350 Palestinian worshippers during the month of Ramadan and injuries to 37 Palestinians, according to The Washington Post. Israeli police control has access to Jerusalem’s Old City and usually clears its plaza after evening prayers, and said they raided the mosque after worshipers locked themselves inside.

At least nine rockets were fired from Gaza into Israeli airspace, prompting Israel to carry out two retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza. 

When we talk about the bombings on Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria that happened this week, we are talking about 75 years of resisting one of the most well-funded armies in the world,” said Lea Kayali, Harvard Law School student and a lead organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement, at the protest. “Here in the U.S., in the belly of the beast, we have a duty to shake the conscience of our society.”

Protesters could be seen holding signs and waving flags, chanting “free Palestine.”

Tala Alfoqaha, another Harvard Law student who helped organize the rally with HLS Justice for Palestine, said, in an interview with the Boston Globe, that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the few remaining spaces for Palestinians to congregate and called for solidarity among Palestinians to resist the mosque’s erasure. 

“We are here today because we believe in the righteousness of our struggle and we understand that Al-Aqsa is more than just a physical space,” Alfoqaha said to the crowd of protesters. “It is a symbol, a bearer of our national identity.”

While the Al-Aqsa compound is a holy space for Muslims, it is known to Jewish people as the Temple Mount, and is the site of both of Jerusalem’s ancient temples, according to the Temple Institute. Although it is a holy space for them too, Jewish people are not allowed to pray or show outward expressions of their Jewish identity in this contested area because of existing conditions of tensions.

Since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, tensions between Palestinians and Israelis have been high for decades, with conflict ensuing from ongoing violent clashes. 

Kayali said the protest aimed to contextualize the ongoing oppression of Palestinians for people in the broader Boston area. 

“For those of us who don’t live with [the burden of living under colonialism] …  whether you’re Palestinian or not, we have a responsibility to remain steadfast in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to confront Zionism,” Kayali said. “That starts right here in Boston.”

Encyclopedia Britannica defines Zionism as a “Jewish nationalist movement that prioritizes the creation and support of a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews.”

The Boston rally was one of the many that took place across the country this week as demonstrators demand justice and an end to violence from Israeli forces. 

Zaineb Sharif, a third-year political communications major at Emerson, decided to attend the rally after learning of the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee’s initiatives. 

“The agenda PSC is trying to push resonates with what I believe in,” Sharif said in an interview with the Beacon. “I am extremely involved in the socio-political issues in the East … about working towards finding a better solution and spreading more awareness [on Palestinian liberation].” 

Sharif said she attended a pro-Palestinian protest in 2021 whose mission aligned with Sunday’s rally, by mounting calls for awareness on the Palestinian “human rights issue.”

“What is going on in Palestine is a human rights issue that needs to be addressed immediately … there are millions of victims impacted,” she said. “It is time that people, the media, and the government itself realize it’s more than just a conflict.”

Camilo Fonseca contributed reporting.