RIVERDALE, Bronx (WABC) -- A rally was held in the Bronx Tuesday afternoon to show support for Israel.
Jewish students and teachers, hopeful for a better future, sang songs and carried Israeli and American flags on the 20-plus block walk from their schools to Seton Park.
One student, Alex Hochstadt, was in Israel October 7, the day Hamas launched its deadly terror attack.
"We heard the sirens and me and my brother ran downstairs because we didn't no what that meant and they told us we had to go to the bomb shelter," Hochstadt said.
Most of the students attending the afternoon rally were students of SAR in Riverdale. Some of the school's graduates are currently serving in the Israeli military. Not lost on them is the fact that some of the hostages being held in Gaza are children.
"There's times during the day that they act like 13, 14, 15-year-olds, but there are definitely times in the day where they are reminded of what's going on on the other side of the world with our brothers in Israel," teacher Jennifer Sokol said.
"Bad things are happening all over the world to Jewish people because of this, and the hostages ... I could very well be friends with them and be in their class," student Danielle Kaplan said.
As much as this was a pro-Israel rally, it was also an acknowledgment that war has given rise to a wave of antisemitism. The crowd thanked local elected officials who have pledged their support and condemned Hamas.
"We reject antisemitism, we reject hatred, we reject Hamas, we reject terrorist attacks on our people," Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson said.
Tuesday's rally was peaceful, though the NYPD reports a 7% increase in hate crimes since the start of the war.
"Even if we're ok right here, we're not going to be ok until they're ok and until those hostages are returned and come home," Riverdale resident Daniel Brock said.
In the 17 days since the start of the war, the NYPD says there have been 105 protests resulting in 205 arrests, and those numbers are certain to rise.