Israel-Palestine rallies come to Charlotte

Protesters on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict will hold demonstrations in Charlotte as violence on the Gaza Strip heightens.

The Palestinian American Community Center will march at 3 p.m. from Romare Bearden Park to the corner of Trade and Tryon streets. The Jewish Community Center is planning a rally in support of Israel but has not set a date.

Israel deepened its ground offensive in Gaza on Friday, representing a major escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the aims of the campaign are to compel Hamas to stop rocket fire at Israel and to destroy Hamas-built tunnels between the two regions.

The Jewish Community Center in Charlotte issued a statement: “The Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte has been, and remains, unequivocal in our support of Israel’s right to defend its citizens. We applaud the United States Congress and President Barack Obama ... for standing with Israel at this difficult time.”

Danya Nayfeh, a member of the Palestinian American Community Center, points to a disproportionate number of Palestinian casualties in the latest conflict.

“We need to make sure that our diplomatic support as Americans and our tax dollars are not going to a country that violates so many humanitarian and civil rights laws,” she said. “We have a responsibility as Americans to stand against these kind of tragedies.”

At least 260 Palestinians and two Israelis have been killed since airstrikes began.

Nayfeh said that organizers expect about 200 people at the protest.