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A pro-Palestinian protester was filmed burning the Israeli flag as demonstrators from both sides of the Middle East conflict descended on New York City ‘s Washington Square Park Wednesday night. The protests come after a blast at a hospital in Gaza that Hamas claims killed at least 500 people.

The attack sparked worldwide outrage, with Palestine blaming Israel and Israeli officials saying it was a misfired rocket from inside Gaza. Protests erupted across the Middle East over the attack. The US was no different with Israel and Palestine backers both heading to Washington Square Park. Video from the event shows several Palestine backers chanting ‘Allahu Akbar!’ as they burned the Jewish state’s Star of David flag. One protester wearing red added: ‘Come take this [Expletive] Israel!’ Reports have suggested there are hundreds of pro-Palestine marchers and dozens of pro-Israel protesters at the park.

The leaders of the pro-Palestine faction were from the NYU Students for Justice in Palestine. Along with other campus organizations, they’re were marching to criticize the university’s president for denouncing the Hamas attack. The accused NYU President Linda Mills of ‘erasure’ of Palestinians in her comments on the shock Hamas attacks that have killed 1,400. ‘In her recent statement, President [Linda] Mills makes the decision to continue this trend of dismissal and blatant erasure of the experiences of Palestinians, both at NYU and in Palestine ,’ the student group wrote. ‘The statement makes no mention of the excessive violence against Palestinians in the last few days, despite 413 Palestinians having been murdered in Gaza within the past 48 hours. It is framed to portray an untrue and misrepresentative picture where ‘terrorist attacks’ were only occurring against Israeli citizens.’

The massive crowd eventually came face-to-face with the pro-Israel supporters. Aside from the flag burning, the event appeared peaceful but the NYPD tried to create separation between the groups, according to NBC New York. The NYPD Intel Division said it is monitoring social media postings for any potential threats, according to CBS New York. ‘You bombed a hospital! You bombed a hospital!’ chanted some of the pro-Palestinian demonstrators, the New York Post reported. ‘Bring them home! Terrorists! Terrorists! Terrorists!’ responded pro-Israel marchers, in reference to the many hostages taken by Hamas after the initial attack.

Some marchers held signs demanding the US cut funding to Israel, while another held a sign to remember Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old from Illinois stabbed by a man believed to be influenced by coverage of the attacks this past weekend. One man went on a shocking rant, addressing a group of pro-Israel supporters, including children. ‘How many kids did you kill in the last ten days? Where is the humanity?’ he said to the group. ‘You’re just cold-blooded like animals. Even the animals are better than you. They have feelings, you don’t. You don’t – you’re not a human,’ he told them, before going after the reporter.

In denouncing what the group said was a strike by Israel, Hezbollah said in its statement: ‘The attack reveals the true criminal face of this entity and its sponsor … the United States, which bears direct and complete responsibility for this massacre.’ Video from the hospital showed fire engulfing the building and the hospital’s grounds strewn with bodies, many of them young children. Hundreds of people were reportedly seeking shelter at the hospital at the time of the blast, which Hamas has called a ‘horrific massacre’ and a ‘ crime of genocide’. About 6,000 Palestinians were sheltering at the hospital, which is reportedly funded by the Anglican Church.

The strike, soon after at least six were killed in a strike on a nearby UN-run school during Israeli bombardments, escalates the 11-day-old war, which has already claimed thousands of lives on both sides. It also happened just hours before US President Joe Biden was due to touch down in the Middle East for high-stakes talks on the war, which was canceled as summit host Jordan and the wider region mourned the victims, the White House said. Biden’s visit to Israel was still going ahead. New York City, as are many melting-pot communities across the country, are feeling anxiety over the attacks back and forth over the past week.

Several Palestinian Americans interviewed Friday in a Brooklyn neighborhood with a large Arab population said the atmosphere has been tense in the last week. Jumana Alkaram said she has not been personally threatened but that: ‘I know if I was to demonstrate my heritage or the Palestinian flag there would be some type of threat. Because the majority has the support of Israel and don´t have the full legit story about what´s happening in Gaza.’ In New York City, a Palestinian restaurant, Ayat, was forced to disconnect its phone after receiving ‘nonstop’ threatening voicemails, according to co-owner, Abdul Elenani.

The storefront features a mural of a crying Palestinian and its menu includes calls to ‘end the occupation.’ On Friday, a man entered the dining room shouting ‘terrorist’ at the people behind the counter, Elenani said. Still, the hostile reception was overshadowed by the support he has received from his neighbors, many of whom are Jewish and share his views about minimizing civilian deaths, he said.

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