The minute's silence, an initiative of one of the high school's students a day following the highest single-day death toll since 2014, amazed some of the other students and angered their parents, who wondered why the school had decided to insert itself into an issue as contentious as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a manner that was perceived by them to be so vehemently anti-Israeli.
"I am extremely upset because I did not send my child to a New York City public school to pray for Hamas operatives," one of the Jewish parents was quoted by the New York Post as saying.
Demonstrations were held almost every day last week as part of Hamas's "March of Return" campaign with Monday's toll—coinciding with the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem—being the highest in the weeks' long campaign.
Senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil told Palestinian media Wednesday that 50 of the Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip border riots Monday belonged to the terror group's ranks. He spoke in an interview to Baladna TV, a private Palestinian news outlet.
In New York, the parents were incensed with the school playing at politics. "I just don't think any school should be promoting a moment of silence for terrorists. What if it was terrorists in (the Islamic State)?" another parent inquired. "No school would be having that over the loudspeaker."
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) sent a letter to the school demanding an apology for holding the controversial event. "It is disgraceful to mourn the deaths of Hamas terrorists," ZOA president Morton Klein said.
The school where the Gaza deaths were commemorated, the Beacon School, is located in the city's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, and is known to be politically left-leaning.
After US President Donald Trump's election win in November of 2016, for instance, some of the school's students staged a walkout—partly approved by the faculty. Principal Ruth Lacey declined the New York Post's request for comment.
Sophie Steinberg, a Beacon School student who resides in Brooklyn, said, "As a Jewish student, I could see a lot of my Jewish friends get very weird when the moment of silence started. They don't know how to feel. They don't know how to fit into all of this."