Chicagoans react to Gaza conflict

January 3, 2009 4:54:27 PM PST
Chicago area leaders in the both Israeli-American and Arab-American communities were reacting to the escalating conflict in Gaza Saturday.

Those with loved ones on both sides of the border have watched the cycle of violence ebb and flow for decades, but Saturday's Israeli ground invasion was a new step, one that was causing concern in Chicago.

A group sympathetic to the Palestinian people gathered at a Bridgeview private school Saturday evening, hanging signs with the names of the known killed over the last eight days.

The Associated Press reports that a week's worth of Israeli air strikes has left more than 460 Palestinians dead. Four Israelis have been killed by rocket fire.

Those with friends and relatives in Gaza say it is impossible for Israel to go to war with Hamas without injuring the innocent.

"They don't have anything, so-called missiles, homemade missiles. How many will die, you know, compared to what the Israelis have, with destructive machines that they have," said Rafeeq Jaber of American Muslims For Palestine.

"What we're trying to do is not against the Gazans or the city of Gaza. It's strategic and military and security reality in the procedure. So, the decision of Israel could determine things," Orli Gil of the Consul General of Israel told ABC7 Chicago.

Organizers said the purpose of the gathering Saturday night was increase awareness about what is going on in Gaza. Many people with ties to the Palestinian community feel their message is not being heard. They say they think the plight of the Palestinian people is one that often goes unnoticed and underappreciated by the world, and they want to try to strategize for ways to help humanize the suffering now going on.