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Supporters Of Israel, Palestinians Stage Downtown Rallies

Hundreds of supporters of Israel gather on the plaza at the Thompson Center on Nov. 20, 2012, after nearly a week of fighting in the Gaza Strip between Israeli forces and Hamas militants. (Credit: CBS)

Hundreds of supporters of Israel gather on the plaza at the Thompson Center on Nov. 20, 2012, after nearly a week of fighting in the Gaza Strip between Israeli forces and Hamas militants. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – As negotiations continued to end the days of fighting between Israel and Hamas on the Gaza strip, dueling rallies were held in downtown Chicago on Tuesday, by both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian activists.

CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports supporters of Israel packed the Thompson Center plaza on Tuesday, while a smaller group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered across the street.

Hundreds attended the pro-Israel rally, carrying signs and waving the blue and white Israeli flag. Stand With Us and the Jewish United Fund said they helped organize the rally to show support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas.

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U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Chicago) was one of the many lawmakers on-hand.

“We are here today because we stand with Israel, and assert her right – her responsibility – to defend herself against terrorist Hamas attacks,” she said.

In the midst of the rally was at least one father of an Israeli soldier.

“My son is a staff sergeant in the Israeli army,” Chicago resident Matt Hafter said. “I take it very personally.”

At just 21 years old, his son Mark works in communications. Matt said he supports the fight with Hamas, and hopes for the best for his only son.

He said every time he hears his son’s voice is a good day.

“I sleep with my phone on. There’s not a minute that goes by that I’m not worrying about him,” he said. “But when he talks to me, he’s very calm, and very resolute about what he’s doing.”

Across the street, pro-Palestinian demonstrators called for an end to fighting in the Gaza Strip, and said the United States should draw back support for Israel.

“Israel is the bulldog; is the watchdog for the United States in the Middle East. That’s why the U.S. supports it the way it does,” said Hatem Abudayyeh, a member of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network in Chicago.

CBS News reports a possible Tuesday cease-fire between Israeli forces and Hamas militants has been postponed. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touched down in Tel Aviv early Tuesday in hopes she could mediate a truce.