CHICAGO — Pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets in downtown Chicago on Sunday while pro-Israel supporters rallied in Northbrook, as the crisis in the Middle East enters its sixth week.

The conflict began in early October when Hamas launched an attack on civilians in southern Israel. According to the Associated Press, 1,400 people were killed in the attack, and over 200 were taken hostage. 

Since the attack, the Israeli government has retaliated in search of Hamas fighters in Gaza, leaving thousands dead. 

“We are affected directly by what’s happening,” Hatem Abudayyeh, the National Chair of the United States Palestinian Community Network and Spokesperson for the Chicago Coalition Justice for Palestine, said. 

Abudayyeh said the the rising death toll in Gaza is devastating as nearly half of those killed are children. 

“11,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the last five weeks,” Abudayyeh said. 

The Consul General of Israel to the Midwest shared a statement with WGN-TV in regard to Sunday’s rallies:

“The chants “from the River to the Sea” are a call to annihilate the State of Israel, and show support for Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist organization. They do not reflect the true spirit of Chicago. We were encouraged to see the thousands who marched today in different locations in the Chicagoland area to support Israel, and our shared values of freedom and democracy.” 

Consul General Yinam Cohen

Those who gathered along the Magnificent Mile called for the U.S. to stop backing Israel in the conflict.

“They want it to stop and they want our government to stop supporting Israel unequivocally the way they do and that’s why we’re here. This is our responsibility as Palestinians,” Abudayyeh said.