People gather and mourn in front of 500 baby dolls
People gather and mourn in front of 500 baby dolls wrapped in a shroud, in remembrance of children killed in the Gaza Strip, in New York on December 28, 2023. AFP

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of New York on Thursday, staging a mock funeral in a demonstration against Israel's continued heavy bombardement of the besieged Gaza strip.

Holding banners demanding an immediate ceasefire, the activists gathered in Manhattan's Bryant Park while some briefly stood in the middle of the busy Sixth Avenue in the heart of New York's Midtown district.

Several women shrouded in black held baby dolls swaddled in white cloths to represent the toll the fighting has taken on children in the coastal territory.

The mock funeral procession headed to New York's iconic Times Square where the protest continued with giant electronic advertisements as a backdrop.

"Today's action is to draw attention to the fact that, as of now, almost 10,000 children, just children alone, not counting everybody, not counting all Palestinians, have been killed... in Gaza," said archivist Grace Lile, 64.

The war, which started with Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel, has devastated much of northern Gaza, and the bombardment and fighting has intensified especially in the southern city of Khan Yunis.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in retaliation for the October 7 attack, which left about 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

Israel's relentless aerial bombardment and ground invasion have killed at least 21,320 people, mostly women and children, according to Hamas-run Gaza's health ministry.

New York City has seen dozens of protests since the October 7 attack and Israel's military response, with both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel demonstrators taking to the streets.