TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. (WFLA) — The violent conflict in the Middle East that began with the unprecedented assault by Hamas on communities in Southern Israel Saturday sparked counter-protests near Tampa on Sunday.
“I think it’s a pretty good turnout for last minute, we heard about this last night,” pro-Palestinian demonstrator Asma Jaber said.
Jaber said she still has family living in the West Bank, one of the two areas Palestinians call the “Occupied Territories.”
“Something good about Palestinians is they are not afraid to die for their land,” she added, “they’d rather die with dignity instead of be chased out of their land.”
There were tense moments after the larger group of pro-Palestinian protesters marched toward a pro-Israel counter-demonstration by the intersection of Fowler Avenue and North 56th Street.
There were many local and state law enforcement officers on hand doing their best to keep the two groups separated, but verbal clashes, and in some cases, physical clashes broke out.
After 4 p.m. law enforcement declared it an unlawful assembly.
Emotions were incredibly high during the dueling protests after the deadly Hamas terrorist attacks and Israel’s retaliation in the Gaza Strip.
“The Middle East is falling apart right now,” Israel supporter Yoni Waysman said. “The world is falling apart right now and we need to come together with a great sense of understanding and hope for peace, but we will not stand while innocent children get slaughtered whatsoever.”
One of the physical clashes escalated into potential arrests. News Channel 8 watched law enforcement take one pro-Israel supporter and one pro-Palestinian supporter into custody.