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Continued Violence In Middle East Sparks More Emotional Sentiments In New York

Protests in New York (credit: CBS 2)

Protests in New York (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Missiles crisscrossed the night skies over Gaza and Israel Monday night, even as the two sides considered peace talks.

The death toll among Palestinians reached 100 Monday afternoon, as Israel kept up its air barrage in an attempt to stop Hamas rocket fire on its towns and villages. And as CBS 2’s Don Dahler reported, the violence also brought more protests to the streets of New York.

Competing groups vied for the attention of rush hour commuters in front of the Israeli Consulate on Manhattan’s East Side.

“Palestine will be free! Israel into the sea!” one group shouted.

“Israel wants peace! Hamas wants war!” another retorted.

In Queens, Israel Consulate General Shahar Azani rallied with elected officials and Jewish leaders outside Queens Borough Hall in support of Israel’s “Operation Pillar of Defense.”

“Israel is allowed to defend itself, but it is clear that you understand that,” Azani said.

“These nations and these terrorists are going to have to realize that there’s going to be co-existence or there’s going to be war,” Queens Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

While passions were high in support of Israel’s attempt to stop Hamas from terrorizing its cities, towns and villages, there were also many supporters of the Palestinian cause.

“Israel should stop what it’s doing,” said one man.

“Whether we like it or not and whether we know it or not, we are supporting the occupation,” said one woman.

The big question for many is whether a cease-fire should be arranged.

“We don’t want another cease-fire that will actually make the people of Gaza suffer another six years of siege,” said another man. “I really want the U.S. to end its blind support to Israel.”

Another major question is whether Israel should mount a ground offensive.

“It if has to be done, I’m trusting the people at the top that they know what needs to be done,” said one man.

As another day passed with another series of explosions on both sides of the border, Israel made a second strike on a Gaza City building where international and Arab media work.

The Israelis said they killed a senior commander responsible for the hundreds of rockets fired into Israel.

Three Israelis have also died since the violence escalated last Wednesday

In southern Israel, a Hamas rocket ripped a hole through an empty school, one of 75 rockets that rained down on Israel that day alone.

Israel also broadened its targets in the six-day offensive. The goal is to put a stop, once and for all, to Hamas rocket fire on Israel.

“We are preparing troops on the ground to enter Gaza if necessary,” said David Siegel, Consul General of Israel. “We hope very much that we don’t need to do this. But if we do, we are prepared to take any measure necessary to protect our population.”

Most of the casualties have been civilians.

President Barack Obama called Israel’s Prime Minister today to express his regret of the loss of life on both sides, but reiterated America’s support for Israel.

“There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Obama said.

World Policy Journal’s David Andelman suspects other forces are at play here.

“I see the hand of Iran behind all of this, or a lot of this anyway,” Andelman said. “The timing of this is really intriguing – within the last week, it was disclosed that Iran had opened a whole new set of nuclear centrifuges deep within the ground, beneath the ground, in Iran. I can see this as a distraction – a way of getting Israel off the concept of bombing Iran, which is something that they’ve been talking about for months now.”

A new CNN poll showed that Americans sympathize with the Israelis four to one and a majority feel the Israeli military action is justified.