Celebrate Israel Parade draws huge crowds, protesters

Thousands showed their support for Israel at the annual Fifth Avenue parade on Sunday, amid increasing scrutiny on its government’s policies and rising tensions in the Mideast.

Marchers flocked to the Celebrate Israel Parade amid cloudy skies and extra security, with floats, bands and waving flags in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding.

“This is what I love the most. Seeing the children, the high spirit, the love for Israel and America,” said Anna Storobinsky, 57, of Brighton Beach.

Amir Vardi, 35, of the Upper East Side, who came to the parade with his wife, Dorian, and their twin daughters, said it was important to demonstrate that New Yorkers stood by Israel and promoted peace.

“It’s a tough time now, with everything going on, but we continue to celebrate together,” he said.

Several elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, marched in the parade.

“Israel is a reliable ally in a very dangerous part of the world,” Cuomo said. “And especially with the international atmosphere, it’s important that we keep that alliance strong and we understand how important that alliance is.”

The high tension and recent violence in the Middle East prompted the NYPD to increase its presence at the parade, with cops stations on every corner between 53rd and 75th streets.

A group of protesters gathered between 57th and 58th streets, jeering at marchers and carrying posters with images of Palestinians killed during a protest at the Gaza border amid the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem last month.

There were no arrests or summonses, according to the NYPD.