Hundreds gathered in front of the Israeli Consulate in downtown Chicago on Tuesday in response to the Israeli raid of a flotilla headed to Gaza with aid for Palestinians. The raid took place in international waters and resulted in the deaths of 9 activists aboard the ships. The demonstration was one of many being held all across the world calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza.

The Free Gaza Movement, who helped organize the convoy of ships, stated they were trying to peacefully deliver aid to those in need while Israel stated that the flotillas were just “an act of provocation” and that they knew they were not allowed into Gaza.

“I came out to support not only the brave men, women, and children on the flotilla who risked their lives for the Palestinians, but also to help show Israel that the world will no longer tolerate such abuse and blatant oppression,” said Muhammed Abdulla, who attended the rally.

Many protesters called for the end to America’s ties with Israel as well as the importance in the involvement of Americans to help end the conflicts in Gaza.

“I wanted to come out to the rally to hold Israel accountable for its attack,” said Noah Lepawsky.

Lepawsky, 33, spent 7 weeks in the West Bank in 2005 working with Palestinians, and he witnessed their struggle first hand. “Since my tax dollars go towards the U.S. military aid to Israel, I wanted my voice, as a US citizen, to be heard. Since Israel takes the position that it is acting on behalf of all Jews I wanted my voice, as a Jew, to be heard,” he said. Lepawsky said the average American can help by simply demanding an end to the U.S.’s aid to Israel. “If the U.S. stopped the aid to Israel the occupation would be impossible,” he said.

One activist who addressed the crowd spoke of standing together with Hispanic Americans on immigrations rights noting, “Once minorities come together, real change can happen.”

Aleena Gomez and Mona Ahmad were already doing just that. Gomez said she came to the protest to support Ahmad who is her roommate. “When all that stuff happened in Arizona, I got angry and Mona was there, so now I’m here,” she said.

Ahmad said it’s not only important for people to come together but to also understand what they’re fighting for. “I’m grateful to have a friend who not only will stand with me but someone who is also willing to take the time to learn about this crisis because I think it’s important and the world should know,” she said.

The rally attracted a large crowd including the Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Jewish Voice for Peace Chicago and African Americans for Peace and Justice in Palestine. In addition, many who attended arrived aboard buses from Wisconsin, Ohio and the Chicago suburbs. The demonstration was organized by The American Muslims for Palestine and the Free Gaza Movement.

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