NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — For some in New York, the conflict in Gaza has become personal — and pro-Israel supporters made their voices heard Monday.
At precisely noon on Monday, thousands from around the world said the words of “Shema,” one of the most important parts of the daily Jewish prayer ritual, at the same time to pray for peace in Israel.
Others chanting “Am ysroel chai” — “The people of Israel live” — as what police estimated to be a crowd of 10,000 gathered near the United Nations in support of Israel and its efforts to protect itself from rockets fired by Hamas, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“We cannot have any cease-fire before Israel gets rid of Hamas’ weapons, the tunnels, the rockets and everything else,” U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.
Many of the speakers attacked the United Nations for not supporting Israel.
U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said he is sending a letter to the U.N. signed by 106 congressmen demanding that they not investigate Israel for war crimes, Kramer reported.
“Give that up,” Rep. Israel said. “We will not take the United Nations seriously unless they take Hamas war crimes seriously.”
Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., agreed. He said the message to the U.N. should be, “There will not be peace until Hamas’ infrastructure is going to be destroyed.”
Some attending the rally were not Jewish.
“I’m here because I love Israel and I stand with Israel,” said Leon Ferguson of Canarsie, Brooklyn. “I’m a gentile with a Jewish heart.”
But all were passionate supporters of the Jewish state.
“You have all the other counties like Chile and France and Germany and Turkey having major riots and anti-Semitism rallies against Israel and Jews, so it’s time that somebody stood up and fought back,” said Keith Groubert of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
Rabbi Stephen Exler has a sister-in-law living in Israel.
“She’s not in a region of the country that is getting constant fire, but it could be once or twice a day, and their lives are just disrupted,” he said.
“If a terrorist organization were operating in Canada or a terrorist organization were operating in Mexico and rockets were fired into the United States, I guarantee it would be the end of Canada and Mexico in no time,” said David Kalb, who has a nephew serving in the Israeli Army.
Some supporters showed their patriotism by carrying both the American and Israeli flags.
There were several pro-Palestinian rallies held in the city last week.
U.N. Under Enormous Pressure From Both Sides
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reinforced the Security Council’s call for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire” in the Gaza war Monday and demanded that Israel and Hamas end the violence “in the name of humanity.”
The UN chief accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal of being irresponsible and “morally wrong” for letting their people get killed in the conflict.
He urged them to demonstrate “political will” and “compassionate leadership” to end the suffering of war-weary citizens. Ban said there must be accountability and justice for actions committed by all sides.
The secretary general said he had a long talk with Netanyahu on Monday morning and urged the Israeli leader to accept a cease-fire, and then address the root causes of the conflict.
He said he has been in indirect contact with Meshaal through Qatar and Turkey, which have good relations with Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls Gaza.
The Security Council adopted a presidential statement at an emergency meeting just after midnight Monday in New York that urged Israel and Hamas “to accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire” and said this would allow for the delivery of urgently needed assistance.
The call for a cease-fire followed new attacks launched by Israel and Hamas despite going back and forth over proposals for another temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting.
Israel’s military said it struck two rocket launchers and a rocket manufacturing facility in central and northern Gaza after a rocket hit southern Israel earlier in the day. The rocket caused no damage or injuries.
As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, Israel’s Prime Minister has warned Israelis to be ready for a prolonged war.
The latest horror from inside Gaza involved the death of 9 children from a round that fell inside of a playground. The dead included the 10-year-old son of Saleh Eli Yan, a driver for CBS News. It was his day off.
The Israeli military said that the round was a misfired Hamas rocket. Hamas said that it was an incoming Israeli shell.
In the fog of war the truth can be difficult to determine, and the U.N. Secretary General said that justice will be hard to come by unless the fighting stops.
“More suffering and siege conditions in Gaza will only hurt innocent civilians, further isolate Israel, empower extremists on all sides, and leave our world far less safe,” Ban Ki-Moon said.
Either way the grief has been unbearable.
The Israeli Defense Force said that a mortar round coming from Gaza killed five of its soldiers, and wounded several more.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has told his people to prepare for a prolonged struggle. He has support inside of Israel and among Israeli supporters around the world. thousands demonstrated at the U.N. on Monday and backed his decision to continue fighting despite the awful cost.
The war, now in its 21st day, has killed more than 1,030 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Israel has lost 43 soldiers, as well as two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker killed by rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, according to the Israeli military.
In an interview with “CBS This Morning” co-host Charlie Rose, Meshaal said he’s “ready to coexist” but said, “I do not want to live with a state of occupiers. They need to help us peacefully reach the state, or we will expel this occupation from our land.
“I can’t co-exist with occupation. Without occupation, you can co-exist,” he added. “I’m ready to co-exist with the Jews, with the Christians and with the Arabs and non-Arabs.”
He said he believes the world hasn’t taken an even-handed view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Unfortunately, the world doesn’t blame the Israelis,” said Meshaal.
Asked if Hamas believes there’s only a military solution to the longstanding regional conflict, he said, “As a Palestinian, I want to be liberalized. I want to live without occupation.”
“We are not fanatics, we are not fundamentalists. We do not actually fight the Jews because they are Jews per se,” he said. “We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers.”
Asked point-blank if he would recognize Israel’s right to exist, Meshaal replied, “No.”
On “Face the Nation,” Netanyahu explained why Israel was suspicious of Hamas.
“They violated their own cease-fire and they’re firing at us as we speak,” he said. “So Israel is not obliged and will not let a terrorist organization, a ruthless terror organization, committed to our destruction, to decide when it’s convenient for them to stop for a moment, rearm, and continue firing on our citizens.”
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