Amid Israel Flight Ban, Israeli And Palestinian Supporters Rally In Center City
By Syma Chowdhry and Justin Udo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Middle East conflict hits close to home as protestors rally at Love Park.
The fighting may be overseas, but it is affecting many people in our region.
Folks are speaking out on both sides: a Pro-Israel rally taking place while a Pro-Palestinian rally is being held as well.
More than 630 Palestinians and about 35 Israelis have died in the conflict in Gaza, and today protesters for both sides rallied in Center City Philadelphia in an effort to raise support for their efforts.
Dozens of protestors supporting Palestine stood on the steps of the Municipal Services Building, and directly across the street in Love Park, hundreds of protesters supporting Israel held a rally. Both sides peacefully protested and gave the reasons why they believe they are on the right side.
“I stand here with the Gazan people who are the oppressed people. They’re basically like an open air prison. They can’t get out. And Israel is just massacring all of them, there are over 600 people now that are dead. It’s insane,” one protester said.
“Israel has the right to exist. They have a right to protect their women and their children and their citizens and their territory and they just don’t want to kill anybody, but they do have a right to exist,” another protester said.
One things that both sides agreed on was an immediate cease fire to the violence going on — on that issue they stood in solidarity.
This comes hours after the FAA extends the travel ban for 24 hours, grounding American planes to Israel (see related story).
“Phones are ringing off the hook and our team is very dedicated working 24-7,” says Iris Hami of Gil Travel.
Iris Hami is the owner of Gil Travel Agency, specializing in flights to Tel Aviv.
“We have clients and groups that was supposed to fly U.S. Airways out of Philly,” says Hami.
This week more than 1,000 clients had plans to go to Israel through various airlines.
Now, Gil Travel agents are helping their travelers either postponed their trip or changed their flight to the Israeli airline, El Al.
“Sometimes they have to pay more if they want to go right away,” says Hami.
They also have clients overseas waiting to come back home.
“Maybe they will have to come back tomorrow or the next day and we are also discussing with them and preparing them to perhaps help them with another night hotel,” says Hami.
The pro-Israel supporters speak out against the FAA ban.
“If Americans want to come to Israel to show their support they should be able to,” says Sherrie Savett of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
The U.S. Airways flight that was schedule for 9 p.m. tonight has been cancelled, but flights are expected to resume once the FAA lifts the ban.
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