Chicago Breaking News: Protesters March on Israeli consulate

The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and about 30 other organizations are calling on public officials to pressure Israel to stop its offensive, which Palestinian health officials have said has killed hundreds. Ten Israeli soldiers and four Israeli civilians have also been killed during the conflict, which has brought calls for a cease-fire from aid groups and the United Nations.

“Free, free Palestine,” thousands of marchers chanted. “Hey [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.”

They gathered at Daley Plaza at 3:30 p.m. and left en masse at about 4:20 p.m. Organizers said they would head north on Dearborn Street to Wacker Drive, then east on Wacker Drive to the Israeli Consulate, 111 E. Wacker.

“We believe the blood of a Palestinian child is not cheaper than the blood of an Israeli child. We believe the tears of a Palestinian child is not cheaper than the tears of an Israeli child. We believe the pain of a Palestinian child is not cheaper than the pain of an Israeli child,” Zaher Sahloul, of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and president of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, said to the rally crowd before it departed the plaza.

“Brothers and sisters it is a dark hour, but it is also a hopeful hour when we can stand in this country with all communities,” Rami Nashashibi, head of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, told the crowd.

The protest is expected to end about 6 p.m. Rolling street closings will be in effect during rush hour.

Separately, a counter protest was held in Federal Plaza downtown earlier in the afternoon by rabbis and Jewish leaders, showing their support for the Jewish state’s offensive against Hamas.

At the pro-Israel rally, at a Federal Plaza festooned with Israeli and American flags, rabbis and Jewish leaders implored a crowd to understand that Jews are not fighting Palestinians but the terrorist group Hamas.

“Israel acts in self defense, seeking to hit military targets, and is heartsick if civilians are inadvertently killed,” said Steven Nasatir, head of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. “Hamas fires rockets randomly, seeking to hit civilian targets and celebrates when women and children die.”

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