Minn. groups pledge support to Israel, Palestinians - KMSP-TV

Minn. groups pledge support to Israel, Palestinians

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Supporters of Israel gather with signs at Adath Jeshurun in Minnetonka. Photo by Paul Blume Supporters of Israel gather with signs at Adath Jeshurun in Minnetonka. Photo by Paul Blume
Just feet away, a group of protestors critical of Israel's response is urging an immediate end to the violence. Photo by Paul Blume Just feet away, a group of protestors critical of Israel's response is urging an immediate end to the violence. Photo by Paul Blume
Gov. Mark Dayton stakes his political position by placing blame solely on Hamas. Photo by Paul Blume Gov. Mark Dayton stakes his political position by placing blame solely on Hamas. Photo by Paul Blume

The conflict is thousands of miles away, but Minnesota groups are gathering to show support for both sides while venting their anger with the fighting and issuing a call for peace on Thursday night.

There was a huge turnout for a solidarity event for Israel at Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, and a small group of protesters rallied just off the property in support of the Palestinian people. Security was tight in the area around the synagogue as Gov. Mark Dayton weighed in on the ongoing war in Gaza and fully placed the blame on Hamas.

Attendees were scanned with metal detectors before entering the Minnetonka worship space. Supporters of Israel sang songs and wrapped themselves in the Israeli flag, but just a few feet away, those standing with the Palestinians begged for an immediate end to the bloodshed.

"It's offensive to me as a Jew," Karen Redleaf, of the Minnesota Coalition for Palestinian Rights. "They say this is for the security of the Jewish people. You don't get to engage in genocide against a helpless population and say it's for security. I have to stand up and say, 'No.'"

Inside, there was prayer and an overwhelming sense of solidarity with Israel and its people.

"The reality of war are harsh and difficult to comprehend," Rabbi Adam Titcher said. "We cannot turn our backs. We have to be ready to defend the country we pray for daily."

Meanwhile, Dayton staked out a political position on the ongoing conflict by blasting Hamas for the current escalation of deadly violence.

"It's clear Hamas wanted this conflict, wants it to continue and perversely wants the world's sympathy for the destruction it has caused," Dayton said, and he was met for a standing ovation for his remarks. "They put human shields on top of civilian buildings in residential neighborhoods. Israel is doing everything possible to protect people from Hamas rockets while Hamas uses its people to protect its rockets."

The conflict has already lasted 17 days, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to continue the operation in Gaza for "as long as it takes." Already, 800 Palestinians have been killed -- including the 15 who perished inside a U.N. school in the Gaza strip when Israeli tanks shelled the facility on Thursday.

MORE: UN school housing refugees in Gaza shelled

Israel, meanwhile, has lost 36 people. Those who gathered in support of the country say they want peace badly, but they insist that Israel must defend itself.

"In the past few weeks, our minds are filled with images of rockets, destruction and death," Charlie Nauen said. "Our hearts are heavy with grief. Nonetheless, we remain resolute and hopeful."

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