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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Pro-Israel Activists Rally In Support Of Gaza Strip Attacks

Lior Haykeen, Gracie Zheng |
November 18, 2012 | 10:24 p.m. PST

Staff Reporters

Protesters rally in support of Israel. (Gracie Zheng/Neon Tommy)
Protesters rally in support of Israel. (Gracie Zheng/Neon Tommy)
Wilshire Boulevard became a platform for opinions Sunday, when hundreds of protesters rallied in front of the Los Angeles Federal Building to support Israel's right to defend itself in the on-going Operation Pillar of Defense.  

Although the counter-protest across the street was less than half the size in people, when driving by, it couldn't be ignored.

"I've learned that when you do not side with the oppressed against oppressors, terrible things can continue to happen," said USC graduate student Sophia Azeb while holding a large Palestinian flag across the street from the Federal Building. 

Azeb is a Muslim who identifies herself as a Palestinian-Egyptian American. She teaches ethnic studies.

"Standing for Palestine does not mean standing with Hamas," she said. "I stand for the civilians in this conflict."

ALSO SEE: Israel Ready To Invade Gaza But Prefers Diplomacy

On the other side of Wilshire stood Kobi Fried, a 57-year-old who was born in Tel Aviv. His hometown, Israel's largest commercial city, has suffered several missile shootings this week. Fried moved to Los Angeles 27 years ago, but still has family and friends living in Israel. 

Muslim-American Sophia Azeb protesting killing of civilians in Gaza(Gracie Zheng)
Muslim-American Sophia Azeb protesting killing of civilians in Gaza(Gracie Zheng)

"We have no other choice," he said in response to those who criticize Israel's latest actions. "We have to eliminate the sources that missiles are launched from. And, unfortunately, [these sources] are hiding amongst civilians. Every country in its right sense will protect its citizens."

Since the beginning of Pillar of Defense, Fried heard from family and friends in Israel who are terrified, horrified and shocked, he said.

"We have to come to an agreement that will be painful to both sides," he said. "But it is important that we reach it because, otherwise, we will see violence continue and will meet right here every couple of years." 

One of the many organizations that arrived at the rally is the L.A.-based Israeli scouts. They came in a school bus, all wrapped in large Israeli flags, carrying signs calling for calmer Israeli lives.

"We are here to support our home," said Benny Rubin, 22, who recently finished a four-year service in the Israeli Air Force, and is now a counselor in the Israeli scouts.

ALSO SEE: Obama Supports Israel's Right To Defend Itself

Rubin works to create a strong bond between Israeli and Jewish teenagers living in Los Angeles.

Teenagers from the L.A.-based Israeli scouts join the rally to support Israel. (Gracie zheng)
Teenagers from the L.A.-based Israeli scouts join the rally to support Israel. (Gracie zheng)

"We support Israel because it is a symbol of stability and peace," he said. 

On Sunday, the fifth day of Pillar of Defense, 130 missiles were shot at Israeli soil. Four missiles landed in residential areas, and 35 were blown by Israel's Iron Dome. Forty Israelis were hurt and treated throughout the country, according to Israel's Ma'ariv. 

The Israeli Defense Forces shot missiles at 130 Palestinian destinations, and were responsible for killing a Jihad activist, who was in charge of several terrorist attacks against Israel.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for Israelis and Palestinians to stop the on-going violence and reach an immediate ceasefire, Israel's Yediot Acharonot reported. 

View photos from the rally below: 

Reach Staff Reporter Lior Haykeen here; follow Lior on Twitter. Reach Staff Reporter Gracie Zheng here



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