Chicago protest today: Hundreds of Palestinians march downtown as death toll rises in Israel, Gaza

Jewish Federation of Chicago's Ofer Bavli speaks with ABC7 from his Jerusalem home

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Monday, October 9, 2023
Hundreds of Palestinians march through downtown Chicago
A Palestinian protest in Chicago started at the Israeli Consulate on Sunday as the Israel-Hamas conflict continues.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many of the people ABC7 spoke with said they have family or friends who have been impacted by the escalating conflict overseas.

On Sunday night, both sides expressed their horror and heartbreak, while also grasping for hope for a resolution.

There was a large turn-out for Sunday afternoon's peaceful demonstration.

"People are without food, they are without water they can't walk around and be who they want to be because shots are being fired just for simply living and existing," said Christina Ghanayem.

Protesters at the rally voiced their passion and pain over the escalating conflict as both sides hope for an end to the brutality.

"We don't want blood, we don't want to fight Israel forever. We just want our land back and just free Palestine," said Wisam Zeidan.

Hundreds of Palestinians and their allies took to the streets of downtown Chicago to show their support for their homeland.

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"We're out here again to raise our voice, to make a very clear message: We stand with our people back in Palestine, that we're behind them 100%," said Muhammad Sankari with the United State Palestinian Community Network.

The group first rallied outside the Israeli Consulate along Madison Street before marching in full force to echo their message to Israel and the American public.

"The people of Gaza are facing essentially brutality and ethnic cleansing again by the Israelis," Sankari said. "We're here to say we want a stop to it. We don't want the United States to be supporting Israel anymore, and we want freedom and liberation for the Palestinian people."

Yinam Cohen with Consul General of Israel to the Midwest spoke out against the demonstration.

"I was appalled and sickened to hear that while we still count the number of casualties, there are people in Chicago who rally the streets to support these atrocities," Cohen said. "We've never seen these atrocities since, you know, the days of ISIS 10 years ago. On [a] personal level, I'm shocked and horrified. All of us have friends, family members, who are there."

Meanwhile, closer to the conflict in the Middle East, Ofer Bavli, with the Jewish Federation of Chicago, spoke with ABC7 by Zoom from his home.

"I live in Jerusalem, which is fairly far from the Gaza strip, and yet, we had to run for shelter nine times during the day yesterday, every time a siren goes off," Bavli said. "People living closer to the Gaza border went into the shelter yesterday, probably, on average, every 10 minutes."

The emotions strong on both sides. Bavli reflected on the past 24 hours in his home country.

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"In a country as small as ours, that means that virtually that every person in the country knows somebody who's been killed or injured or kidnapped," Bavli said. "We are looking at a definitive kind of war. This is not just a campaign. This is by far the worst tragedy that Israel has ever faced in 75 years of history."

Following the development of this conflict, local law enforcement said, so far, there are no threats in the Chicago area.