Pro-Palestinian Protesters Gather Downtown And In Bridgeview, Demand End to Israeli Air Strikes

CHICAGO (CBS Chicago/CBS News) — Thousands of protesters gathered downtown Wednesday in response to the violence in Gaza and Israel.

The protest is organized by the US Palestinian Community Network. They are demanding an end to Israeli air strikes.

The large group marched west on Adams Street near Wells Street early on Wednesday evening.

A march was also held in southwest suburban Bridgeview Wednesday night. Palestinian flags flew as a large group marched down the street in a show of support for Palestinians.

The unrest started on Monday. Palestinian militants have fired more than a thousand rockets, killing five Israeli civilians – while Israeli bombs have killed at least 56 people.

, more rockets streamed out of Gaza and Israel pounded the territory with airstrikes. This has been the most severe outbreak of violence since the 2014 war took on many hallmarks of that devastating 50-day conflict.

As CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reported on Wednesday, what began weeks ago as protests in Jerusalem over restrictions at a major Muslim holy site and the planned eviction of Palestinian families has morphed into a new war.

On Wednesday, there was no end in sight. Israel’s Defense Minister said the attacks on armed groups in Gaza were to be stepped up, to bring what he promised to be “total, long term quiet.”

Gaza’s Hamas rulers and other militant groups have fired barrages of hundreds of rockets that at times have overwhelmed Israel’s missile defenses, causing air raid sirens and explosions to echo across Tel Aviv, Israel’s biggest metropolitan area, and other cities.

Israeli airstrikes have leveled multistory buildings across the Gaza Strip, where 2 million Palestinians have lived under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas took power in 2007. Warning shots have allowed civilians to evacuate the buildings, but the material losses will be immense. Israel faced heavy criticism over the tactic during the 2014 war.

In response to the Chicago protest on Wednesday, the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest said Israel has the right to defend itself.

Meanwhile, the continued fighting in Israel is forcing Chicago-based United Airlines to cancel flights from Chicago to Tel Aviv.

United, along with American and Delta airlines, announced they are suspending flights to the region.

Tel Aviv’s main airport came under heavy fire from a Hamas rocket attack Tuesday night.