GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Demonstrators gathered in downtown Grand Rapids Thursday night to show their support for the people kidnapped by militant group Hamas in the wake of its attack on Israel.
Multiple people who support Israel spoke out at Thursday’s demonstration at Rosa Parks Circle. Yellow balloons and photos of children, teenagers and adults were put on display. Organizers said the people on the posters are those who have been kidnapped and held hostage by Hamas.
“You have 3-year-olds, babies, you have young men, grandmas … and so, it’s all the people Hamas took as hostages into Gaza, and that they’re still holding, as the war continues,” said Jennifer Franson, a protester at the rally.
In early October, Hamas attacked Israel, which responded in force. Around 240 people are being held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Associated Press reports. The violence has sparked marches by pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups all over the world. On Tuesday, tens of thousands of demonstrators marched on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to show their support for Israelis.
According to people at Thursday night’s Grand Rapids rally, the main message wasn’t whether someone was pro-Palestine or pro-Israel, but rather about the unrest that’s taking place in both countries.
“If this makes me look pro-Israel, that doesn’t mean I am anti-Palestinian. I’m pro-people. If we don’t stand up to terrible things that’s happened, that started this, if we think that’s OK, for any reason, if that is ever justified, then it’s only a matter of time before somebody uses that on us,” Franson said.
“I don’t think this is just a one-people issue,” Franson added. “To talk about the hostages, really focuses on the humanitarian effort of any group, that we value life, and that doesn’t matter what side.”