White House candlelight vigil calls for cease-fire in Gaza after weekend of DC protests

A weekend of rallies in support of a cease-fire in Gaza and peace in Israel amid the ongoing conflict in the Middle East continued Sunday, as visitors to the District gathered outside the White House to voice support for Palestinians.

Fran, a woman in attendance at Sunday’s candlelight vigil told WTOP that there were several events across the region aimed at encouraging “peaceful coexistence” between members of “a shared society.”

“We need to be working towards that goal, and atrocities on both sides are not advancing that cause,” Fran said. “So we do need an end to the killing and recognize our shared humanity.”

The vigil comes as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a stop in Jordan on Saturday, reiterated the U.S.’ support for a pause to the fighting to allow humanitarian organizations to get aid into Gaza. Blinken met Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, Qatari and Emirati diplomats and a senior Palestinian official. In the news conference following their meeting, the Arab leaders called for an immediate cease-fire.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, pushed back against this notion Sunday, telling CNN that a Gaza cease-fire would just create an opportunity for Hamas to further harm the country.

“We shouldn’t believe or take any numbers coming out of Gaza at face value. Everything is being controlled by the terrorists of Hamas. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” Erdan said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted there would be temporary cease-fire for humanitarian aid when all hostages held by Hamas are released.

At another rally in front of the Red Cross headquarters in the District, others echoed calls to release hostages and move toward peace.

“Each is created in God’s image and each deserves the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their lives and our lives are intertwined,” a speaker at the White House vigil tells the crowd in attendance. “We refuse to be enemies. We are here to grieve and to say ceasefire.”

WTOP’s Heather Gustafson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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