Palestinian supporters protest in DTSB

Sound Bend, Ind. A group of Palestinian supporters rallied Thursday evening at the St. Joseph County Courthouse to protest Israel's order for ground troops to cross the border into Gaza.

Many of those protesting were from the South Bend area and some still have family in the region.

"Everything is a question," said a woman named Jumana, who helped organize the rally. "Is our family alive? Are they in their homes? What happened?"

Signs and chants spoke out against the violence and death toll on the Palestinian side of the most recent conflict.

"There's nothing in the world we can say to bring back those kids and those innocent civilians that are being tortured and killed," said Palestinian supporter Jasem Sheikh.

The group's goal was to educate others about the conflict and its impact beyond the Middle East.

"Our tax dollars are going to Israelis," explained Hala Alkattan, another rally organizer. "And it kind of does affect us because these innocent people are dying and we are kind of supporting it. So people need to know what's going on."

But on the other side of the conflict, local Israeli supporters like Rabbi Fred Nebel of the Midwest Torah Center say Israel's actions on Thursday were in self-defense.

"With all the bombs that kept coming over from Hamas, Israel had no choice but to defend itself and to defend its citizens," Rabbi Nebel said. "It's probably going to cause more casualties on both sides and that's very sad. The sadness is that this all could be stopped if Hamas could just put down its weapons and say we want peace and everybody could live in peace."

Peace was also a familiar refrain on the steps of the courthouse.

"We ask all the people in South Bend -- it's not easy to do much for Palestine -- they might not have family and friends over there," Jumana said. "But we ask that you just pray. That's all we need is prayers to end this."

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