Thousands of protesters march in downtown Los Angeles calling for cease-fire in Gaza

Los Angeles, CA - March 02: People protest outside of City Hall during a global day of action to end the Israeli Hamas war on Saturday, March 2, 2024 in Los Angeles, CA. (Michael Blackshire / Los Angeles Times)
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather outside L.A. City Hall as part of a global day of action to end the Israel-Hamas war. The watermelon has become an unofficial symbol of Palestinian solidarity. (Michael Blackshire / Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through downtown Los Angeles on Saturday as part of a worldwide day of action calling for an end to the Israel-Hamas war.

Waving Palestinian flags and banners, the demonstrators rallied outside City Hall about 1 p.m. before beginning a slow march down Broadway chanting and carrying signs that said, "Stop the Genocide," "Free the 2 Million Hostages in Gaza" and "Cease Fire Now."

The crowd of peaceful protesters stretched for several city blocks. Some participants estimated that tens of thousands took part. The Los Angeles Police Department said it did not have a crowd estimate.

An LAPD spokesperson said there were four arrests made at the protest related to vandalism — two for felonies and two for misdemeanors. A fifth person was arrested for trying to free one of the people arrested, the spokesperson said.

A man holds a 'Free Palestine' sign while
A participant in Saturday's pro-Palestinian march in downtown L.A. (Michael Blackshire / Los Angeles Times)

Similar demonstrations took place in large cities across the country, including San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Washington.

Israel launched its airstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza after Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking more than 240 hostages. The death toll in Gaza has since passed 30,000, with most of the casualties women and children, according to the World Health Organization.

Israel has essentially endorsed a framework of a proposed Gaza cease-fire and hostage release deal, and it is now up to Hamas to agree to it, a senior U.S. administration official said Saturday, a day before talks to reach an agreement were to resume in Egypt.

International mediators have been working for weeks to broker a pact to pause the fighting before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins around March 10. A deal would also probably allow aid to reach hundreds of thousands of desperate Palestinians in northern Gaza who aid officials say are under threat of famine.

The Israelis “have more or less accepted” the proposal, which includes a six-week cease-fire and the release by Hamas of hostages considered vulnerable, including the sick, the wounded, the elderly and women, the U.S. official said.

United States military planes began the first airdrops of thousands of meals into Gaza, and the militaries of Jordan and Egypt said they also conducted airdrops. Aid groups say airdrops should be only a last resort and instead urge the opening of other crossings into Gaza and the removal of obstacles at the few that are open.

Times staff writer Rebecca Ellis and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

A protester holds an umbrella and a bag of flour, standing near stairs spattered with white powder
A protester gestures after throwing flour on the front steps of City Hall on Saturday. (Michael Blackshire / Los Angeles Times)

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.