From WILL - News Local/State -

C-U Residents With Middle East Ties Rally Over Violence In Gaza

Protest against Israeli conflict with Gaza in Urbana

A number of Champaign area residents demonstrate against current the Israeli-Gaza conflict in downtown Urbana Friday (Jeff Bossert/WILL)

A number of Champaign area residents, mostly with ties to the Middle East demonstrated Friday over the current conflict between Israel and Gaza.

About 80 people chanted and carried signs in downtown Urbana, including University of Illinois Student Nora Al-Qadi.  She was born in the U.S., but she frequently returns to Palestine, where her family lives.

Al-Qadi recently had to cancel a recent trip there out of safety concerns. She said her family is safe – for now.

“It’s very up in the air," she said.  "You never know – Israelis come in at night, and they just take who they want.  I talked to my grandma (Friday) morning.   And said last night they came in and took a few people.   They’re really not charging them with any crimes, but they’re powerless, there’s nothing they can do.”

Osama Abuirshaid with The American Muslims for Palestine says the U.S. government is equating the victims with the aggressors, and not admitting that the Israeli army is responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths.   

"We (the U.S.) are supplying the weapons that are killing civilians, killing children, killing the elderly and women," he said.  "And it's against our laws to give any country weapons that are used against civilians.  When we put it perspecttive, it's not only that we care about the Palestian people, but we also carry about the United States of America - our image, and our president (President Barack Obama) said when he came to into office, that he wants to open a new chapter with the Muslim world.  That's not a new chapter with the Muslim world." 

Carl Estebrook with the Champaign-Urbana's Anti-War, Anti-Racism Effort (AWARE) said the government's support of Israel is making these crimes in Gaza possible.

"Economic, military, diplomatic, political support - if that were absent, Israel couldn't do what it's doing,"  he said.  "American policy is pretty clear, and I don't see any changes coming."