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Dueling Protest Groups Outside Israeli Consulate Call For Mideast Peace

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Demonstrators on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict gathered to make their voices heard at the Israeli Consulate on the East Side on Wednesday.

As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, dueling protesters gathered on both sides of Second Avenue – pro-Israeli demonstrators outside the consulate at 800 Second Ave., pro-Palestinian demonstrators across the street.

Both sides were demanding an end to the violence that has erupted in recent weeks in the Middle East.

The rally was first organized by the group American Muslims for Palestine, but pro-Israeli protesters later began a second rally. While the protesters had the same goal, the groups were kept apart.

The latest conflict started in late June when three teens were kidnapped in the West Bank town of Hebron. In the days after, Israeli police arrested hundreds – many affiliated with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The teens’ bodies were found June 30. Afterward, thousands attended the funerals for the teens — Eyal Yifrah, 19; Gilad Shaar, 16; and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, who had dual Israeli-American citizenship with ties to Brooklyn.

Even more violence erupted in the wake of the death of a Palestinian teenager. Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 17, was forced into a car last week in a Palestinian neighborhood of east Jerusalem, and was beaten, burned alive and slain.

Since then, Israel has arrested six of its own citizens in connection with the killing.

The tension continued in Israel on Wednesday, as hundreds of Palestinians carried bodies through the streets in the Gaza Strip as they buried those killed in Israeli airstrikes. On the other side of the border, Israelis braced for rocket fire and soldiers massed on the border.

An Israeli offensive aimed at stopping near-daily Palestinian militant rocket attacks set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012, and it is taking a heavy toll on civilians.

Palestinian children played in the rubble of a house that was destroyed by an Israeli strike on Tuesday in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, while hundreds of angry men carried the bodies of seven people laid out on orange stretchers for their funeral in the Khan Younis refugee camp in the south. Trails of smoke, meanwhile, could be seen as Palestinian militants fired rocket salvos toward Israel.

Palestinian medics say a total of 49 people have been killed in Gaza, including 22 on Wednesday. Of the total dead, medical officials have confirmed at least 15 are civilians and 10 militants, with the remainder uncertain.

No serious casualties have been reported on the Israeli side, but rockets have hit homes, damaged infrastructure and spread panic as air raid sirens wailed over major Israeli cities.

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