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Israeli and Palestinian supporters demonstrate in Michigan

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Several thousand people turned out Wednesday night at a Southfield synagogue to show support for Israel in its current conflict in Gaza.

“We stand with Israel,” shouted one speaker.  

The overflow crowd cheered for local people with family members serving in the Israeli army in Gaza.

Speakers blamed Hamas for the conflict, which has cost nearly a thousand lives in the past few weeks.

“We feel for the victims on both sides. We want it to end. But we want Israel to be secure,” says Allan Gale, with the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Several speakers claim Israel has been unfairly criticized by the international community for the way the offensive in Gaza has been handled.  

Earlier in the day, more than 50 protesters took to the state Capitol grounds to show their support for Palestine in its current fight with Israel. 

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Dozens of people turned out for a noon hour rally at the state Capitol in Lansing to call for peace in Gaza.

The demonstrators waved Palestinian flags, chanted,  and took turns bashing the state of Israel for its role in the current conflict in Gaza.

Fifteen-year-old Haneen Hammad helped organize the rally. She says it’s important for her "for our voices to be heard and to inspire other people to start stuff for Palestine and for the Palestinian people to be free.”

The group also called for an end of U.S. financial aid to Israel. 

Meanwhile, the fighting goes on.

Even as Secretary of State John Kerry reports progress in efforts to work out a truce, Israeli troops have been battling Hamas militants near a town in the southern Gaza Strip.

The fighting forced dozens of families to flee. A Palestinian health official says at least eight militants were killed.

The Palestinian Red Crescent has been trying to evacuate about 250 people from the area, which has been pummeled by air strikes and tank shelling since early today. A resident says homes are "collapsing upon us."

To the north, an air strike demolished a home in Gaza City, killing three people.

Meanwhile, police in Israel say a foreign worker was killed when a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near the city of Ashkelon. Israel also said two more of its soldiers have died in the conflict, bringing the military death toll to 29.

In Jerusalem, 30,000 people attended the funeral of Max Steinberg, a 24-year-old from Southern California who was serving in the Israeli military. He was killed in an attack on an armored personnel carrier on Sunday.

Kerry flew into Tel Aviv today even though the U.S. government has banned airlines from flying there after a Hamas rocket hit near the airport yesterday. He's meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

The U.N.'s top human rights official has warned all sides in the two-week war in the Gaza Strip to not indiscriminately attack civilians, and that violations may amount to war crimes.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Wednesday around three-quarters of those killed in the Gaza Strip were civilians and thousands more have been injured.

At least 657 Palestinians and 31 Israelis have been killed during the conflict.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.