Gaza Conflict Creates Face-Off in Chicago

Hundreds rally outside Israeli Consulate as fighting enters third week

A pro-Israel rally in Chicago turned into a face-off with Palestinian supporters as fighting in the Gaza Strip continued on Tuesday.

About 500 demonstrators gathered in front of the office of the Consulate General of Israel, at 500 W. Madison St., in a call for peace. That country's military forces since July 8 have been fighting Hamas militants from Palestine.

Across the street, about 100 people gathered to support the Palestinian people. Police kept the crowds separate but said one arrest was made.

More than 2,000 rockets have been launched toward Israel from Palestine since the beginning of the month.

"My family, my friends should live normal life without missiles," said Israeli supporter Alex Paz.

The Palestinians say Israel is randomly deploying a wide array of modern weaponry against Gaza's 1.7 million people, inflicting a heavy civilian death toll and destroying large amounts of property there.

"We're not anti-Israel. We're not pro-Hamas. But we're pro-saving these children," said Sohni Singh, who stood with the rally organized by the Coalition for Justice in Palestine.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 630 Palestinians and about 30 Israelis had reportedly been killed in the violence. Gaza officials say the vast majority of the casualties have been civilians, many of them children. Israel says its troops have killed hundreds of Hamas gunmen and accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields.

The U.S., Israel and the European Union all consider Hamas a terrorist organization. The United Nations does not.

The Federal Aviation Administration earlier in the day ordered all U.S. airline carriers to halt flights in and out of Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport because of a Hamas rocket attack nearby.

Israel and the U.S. back an unconditional cease-fire proposal that has been offered by Egypt, which would be followed by talks on a possible new border arrangement for Gaza. Israel and Egypt have severely restricted movement in and out of Gaza since Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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