Special report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts
CHICAGO, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people gathered Friday afternoon in Chicago's downtown, protesting against Israel's recent military actions in the Gaza Strip.
About 4,000 people gathered around 3:00 pm in the Pioneer Plaza in downtown Chicago, chanting slogans, waving Palestinian flags and carrying signs that read: "Stop U.S. Aid to Israel Now", "stop the siege of Gaza now" and so on.
Protesters later spilled across the Michigan Avenue Bridge to East Wacker Drive in front of the building that houses the Consulate General of Israel. Police there closed off a block-long stretch to vehicle traffic.
The protest was one of many recent demonstrations around the world in response to Israel's week-long air strikes on the Gaza Strip, a series of assaults Israel says are meant to deter rocket attacks into southern Israel by Hamas.
A smaller group of Israel supporters counter protested outside the consulate. The protest was largely done by about 6:00 p.m. Police said no arrests were reported. Organizers are planning another protest on Saturday in Chicago's Hyde Park.
Senior UN official: Gaza conflict threatens regional peace, stability
UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- The future of the Middle East peace process, the stability of the region and the safety of ordinary people in the Gaza Strip have been seriously jeopardized by Hamas rocket attacks and the "excessiveness of Israel's response," a senior United Nations envoy warned Friday.
"Much of Gaza's infrastructure has now been destroyed. The death and injury toll in Gaza continues to mount. Hamas rockets are now reaching 40 kilometers into Israel," Robert Serry, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, told a press conference here via video-link from Jerusalem.
Senior official: UN has contacts with Hamas
UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations does have contacts with Hamas and has warned the Hamas militants against firing rockets into southern Israel, a senior UN official said on Friday.
Robert Serry, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, made the statement while briefing reporters here on the situation in Gaza at a press conference via video link from Jerusalem.
Erekat: Abbas heads to New York soon
RAMALLAH, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would leave later on Friday with other Arab leaders for New York to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip.
"President Abbas will head to News York with other Arab leaders to achieve an Arab consensus to oblige Israel to achieve an unconditioned immediate stop of the offensive on Gaza," Erekat told reporters in Ramallah.
Two more killed in seventh day of airstrikes in Gaza
GAZA, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Israeli war planes carried out four airstrikes on targets south of the Gaza City on Friday evening, killing two Palestinian civilians, doctors and witnesses said.
Previously, eight Palestinians were killed, including five children, in the ongoing Israeli intensive airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
Gaza needs political, weaponry, propagandistic support: Iranian cleric
TEHRAN, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Iran's influential cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said here on Friday that Gaza needs political, weaponry and propagandistic support today, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Addressing the crowd at the Friday prayer, he said that "There is no shortage of soldiers there in Gaza today but Muslim Ummah (community) must provide political, weaponry and propagandistic support for Gazans."