Hundreds protest Gaza assault

December 30, 2008 5:42:02 PM PST
Hundreds of protesters separated by police barricades gathered outside the Israeli Consulate on Tuesday, facing off over ongoing air attacks on the Gaza Strip. Waving Palestinian flags and shouting "Free Palestine," the larger of the two groups spread across a block not far from the United Nations, where world leaders urged Israel and Hamas to stop fighting in Gaza and southern Israel.

One protester carried a sign reading: "The real terrorists: U.S.-Israeli War Machine."

Across the street, a smaller group waved Israeli flags and defended the bombings, which began four days ago in Gaza, targeting Hamas-related installations to force a halt to militant rocket attacks on towns in southern Israel.

"Every country has the right to defend itself against terror," said Faith Meltzer, a San Francisco resident who took time away from her vacation to join the counter-protest.

A few miles south at City Hall, Israeli Consul General Asaf Shariv met with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, displaying for reporters an exploded rocket that killed an Israeli woman out for a walk 17 miles south of Tel Aviv.

"We are obligated to defend our people, and that is what we are doing," Shariv said.

Bloomberg voiced his support.

"I can only think what would happen in this country if somebody was lobbing missiles onto our shores or across the border," he said.

But Manhattan resident Dalia Mahmoud, joining the protest uptown, made it clear that not all New Yorkers share the mayor's perspective.

"I'm shocked at what Israel is doing - indiscriminately killing children, women ... punishing an entire population for the acts of a few," she said.

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