Hundreds of demonstrators marched through Chicago’s main business district Wednesday in opposition to Israel and demanding an end to Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza strip that have left dozens dead.
The demonstration occurred as Israel continued a military offensive that killed as many as 10 senior Hamas military figures among others and launched air strikes that toppled two high-rise towers housing Hamas facilities. The Islamic militant group continued to fire hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said the death toll has climbed to 83 Palestinians, including 17 children and seven women, with more than 480 people wounded.
Seven people have been killed in Israel. Among them were a soldier killed by an anti-tank missile and a 6-year-old child hit in a rocket attack.
Many participating in the Chicago demonstration were from Bridgeview, which has one of the area’s largest Palestinian populations.
“It’s difficult to watch the news and see what’s happening to our families and friends there,” Hatem Abudayyeh, chairperson of the US Palestinian Community Network, told NBC-Chicago. “They’re very careful when they’re home, and they’re very anxious listening for the air raids.”
The violence began a month ago in Jerusalem, where heavy-handed Israeli police tactics during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers ignited protests and clashes with police.
Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich issued a statement calling for “prayer and peace” between the two sides.
“There can be no doubt of Israel’s right to a secure existence. Palestinians, too, have a right to statehood, territorial integrity, and safety,” Cupich said.
Chicago Rabbi Elisha Prero told ABC-Chicago he was in Ramat Beit Emet halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv visiting his daughter as the violence escalated
“I was visiting my parents’ grave site with my wife and all of a sudden we heard what sounded like thunder, but this is the dry season, there’s not a cloud in the sky, there is no rain coming,” he said. “It is bombs. You do not know where they are going to land.”
The rabbi said Palestinian aggression will not promote a better deal for their people.