INDIANAPOLIS – Hundreds of people took to the streets of downtown Indianapolis Thursday night as conflict continues in the Middle East.
More than 2,700 people have died as a result of fighting between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that attacked Israel on Saturday.
Rallies and protests supporting Israel, the people of Palestine, and Hamas itself took place across the country on Thursday, including in the Circle City.
Hundreds of people supporting Palestine gathered on the sidewalks of Monument Circle as a counterprotest of those defending Israel gathered on the steps of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
As rallies took place, two very different perspectives cried out. Both rallies were loudly filled with passion and emotion. Those Hoosier protestors calling for Palestinian freedom claim their people have been oppressed for years, while those defending Israel say the recent attacks by Hamas have been downright barbaric and heinous.
From the street corner where Palestinian protestors stood, chants of ‘free, free Palestine’ could be heard for hours as they demanded their voices be heard.
“I’m standing here, defending my people in a country that does not defend us,” said protestor Jessica Hoss, who supports Palestine.
As flags waved and posters rose up and down, each cry got louder and louder. Hundreds argued Palestinians have been victims of apartheid for years. They now demand the U.S. stop supporting Israel.
“We look like we are suspects and not the victims and we are the victims and the world needs to know that,” Ross said.
Several hundred yards away across the circle there was a much, much different wail let out.
“This is not even about Israel and Palestine, this is about being on the side of humanity,” said Asaf Halevi who was born in Israel and is a direct descendant of Holocaust survivors.
Local Israeli supporters condemned the attacks by Hamas as they chanted across from the opposing rally.
“The savagery and barbaric nature of those murders, rapes and beheadings can never be justified,” Halevi said. “There’s no earth, no country, no alternate universe where those acts of terror can be justified.”
Those behind Israel compared Hamas to ISIS Thursday night. The U.S. considers Hamas a terrorist organization, but pro-Palestine supporters FOX59/CBS4 spoke with would not say whether they agree.
“I know they said it was done in self-defense,” said Ferras Abdalla, who is a local Palestinian. “Against civilians I don’t agree with, but self-defense 100 percent.”
Pro-Israel supporters argue so-called “freedom fighting” rationalizes the actions of terrorists.
“This is not about escalation or militancy or freedom fighting,” Halevi said. “That sort of rationalizes and normalizes things that we saw ISIS do and other extremist terrorist groups.”
Some of those defending Palestine Thursday night said peace in the region may be hard to reach.
“There’s never been peace and there never will be peace with both nations in one country,” Ross said. “There’s no way.”
Others hope things can and will be settled diplomatically.
“I think diplomacy is still on the table as long as long as things don’t keep going too far,” Abdalla said. “How to get there, I don’t know. I don’t know, but we do have to stop moving in one direction and start heading in that direction.”
Israeli supporters say they are praying loved ones they know remain safe and any and all hostages soon see freedom.
There was a very large police presence during the rallies, involving dozens of officers from IMPD and Indiana State Police. The opposing protests remained mostly peaceful, but police say one person was arrested for battery after a brief fight broke out.