Israel-Hamas War

Pritzker to speak at Arab American Bar Association event condemning hate

Pritzker's speech comes after tensions rose during two counter protests Sunday in Skokie that ended with two people in custody

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As the Israel-Hamas was enters its third week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday is expected to join the Arab American Bar Association at an event condemning hate and violence.

The event is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. Monday at the Chicago Bar Association in downtown Chicago, Pritzker's office said. It will be streamed in the video above once it begins.

Earlier this month, Pritzker spoke at an Israel Solidarity Gathering at a Synagogue in Glencoe, where he expressed support for Israel and drew distinctions between Hamas and the Palestinian civilians who live in Gaza.

“There are many peace-loving Palestinians, and we must honor them,” Pritzker said. “All of us recognize the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. But make no mistake: Hamas does not represent those aspirations, and it offers nothing for the Palestinian people other than more terror and bloodshed.”

Pritzker's event comes as tensions between local groups supporting Israel and Palestine continue to rise.

Sunday evening, two separate rallies in support of Israel and Palestine in Skokie ended in a chaotic scene with two people taken into custody, and one person struck by a vehicle, police said.

According to the Lincolnwood Police Department, approximately 200 counter protesters supporting the Palestinian people showed up in the 3400 block of Touhy Avenue, where the Simon Wiesenthal Center was hosting a "Solidarity with Israel" event.

Police said several disturbances escalated outside the event, leading officers to call for assistance to help control the crowd and maintain order. During the incident, one person was confronted outside the Lincolnwood Town Center, at which time that individual presented a weapon and fired shot into the air, police said.

No one was injured, and that person was immediately taken into custody by law enforcement, police said. Additional information on what led up to shots being fired wasn't available Sunday night.

A separate incident, in which a person was struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run, occurred nearby, police said.

The individual who was hit walked away from the scene and didn't require transportation to the hospital. Authorities were continuing to investigate Sunday night.

The Skokie Police Department said a Chicago police officer and two citizens sustained minor injuries after they were pepper sprayed by someone attending the protest. One person was taken into custody for dispensing pepper spray. No charges had been filed as of late Sunday.

Another individual was taken into custody in connection with the disturbances, but was later released.

The U.S. Palestinian Community Network released a statement following the incidents, saying it mobilized around 500 people to peacefully protest the Israel Solidarity event. Demonstrators were gathering their items and walking to their vehicles when they were attacked, explaining one man fired pepper spray into the crowd, the organization said.

"We called for the demonstration today at the “Solidarity With Israel” rally to send a clear message that our people are facing war crimes, starvation, and unrelenting bombing by Israel that must be ended immediately; and we reject the notion that Zionists should be able to gather and celebrate U.S.-backed, Israeli genocide in our community while our people are being massacred back home," the USPCN's statement read in part.

"We will continue to march in the streets and in front of legislators' offices to demand that the U.S. immediately end all aid to Israel and stop arming Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people," the statement continued.

A statement sent to NBC Chicago from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the group that organized Sunday's Israel Solidarity event, said “Last evening the Simon Wiesenthal Center organized an event in Solidarity with Israel which brought together numerous communities and faith groups.  It was an incredible display of solidarity and support for the State of Israel and the Jewish people.  The Jewish community is mourning for the victims of terrorism and we are praying for the safe release of the hostages.”

Friday, Hamas released two American hostages; a mother and daughter from Evanston, Illinois. Judith Raanan and her daughter, Natalie, are expected to arrive in the U.S. this week. The two were visiting southern Israel to celebrate a Jewish holiday and a relative's birthday when they were kidnapped.

[A] big, big relief. I thank God..." Natalie's father, Uri Ranaan said. "I haven’t been sleeping for two weeks. Tonight I'm going to sleep good."

Judith and Natalie were met by the Israeli Defense Force at the Israel-Gaza Strip border before being taken to a military base where they were expected to be reunited with family members. The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem posted a photo on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter, showing the mother and daughter both smiling while talking on the phone with President Biden.

Hamas released video late Friday showing the release of Natalie and Judith, who the terrorist organization said were freed for "humanitarian reasons."

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