Demonstrators break through barrier at pro-Palestine rally

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Saturday, May 22, 2021
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Hundreds of people blocked streets Saturday as a rally in support of Palestine continued in west Houston.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hundreds of people blocked streets Saturday as a rally in support of Palestine continued in west Houston.

The "Houston Stands with Palestine" rally got underway Saturday afternoon at Post Oak and Westheimer and later turned tense as the crowd began yelling that they wanted to march down the street.

Protestors broke through a barrier set up on the street, according to witnesses on scene.

Multiple people were detained by police during the event, according to witnesses, but it wasn't clear what they were accused of.

Police later blocked off the street as rally-goers marched toward Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park.

SEE ALSO: Palestinians and Israelis in Houston fear for safety as tension continues

HPD Chief Troy Finner was also there making sure demonstrators remained safe.

"We want to allow them to exercise their First Amendment rights and that's what happened out here today," said Finner. "We told organizers that as long as they're not assaulting people, tearing up property, we'll march with them. And that's not in support of one side or the other. It's on the side of allowing people to exercise their Constitutional right."

WATCH: HPD Chief Troy Finner on the pro-Palestine rally

ABC13 was present at the rally talking to participants and asking them what being a part of this event meant for them.

"Everyone who believes in human rights for all is here. We are saying we will stand with Israel if they do the right thing, but if Israel is prosecuting people, killing innocent children, then we are not with Israeli," said one demonstrator.

One demonstrator also said some people are protesting U.S. complicity in the conflict.

"Instead of funding infrastructure, health care and education in this country, they're sending $3.8 billion annually to the state of Israel at the expense of the American public and at the expense of Palestinians who have to withstand the bombs being dropped," said another demonstrator.

The rally comes on the heels of violence between Hamas and Israel that erupted earlier this month.

Israel had bombed the homes of senior Hamas figures during 11 days of fighting, as part of its attack on the group's military infrastructure. The home of Sinwar was also attacked.

Israel's defense minister, Benny Gantz, has said top Hamas leaders remain targets, even after an Egyptian-brokered truce went into effect early Friday.

In the fighting, Israel had unleashed hundreds of airstrikes against militant targets in Gaza, while Hamas and other militants fired more than 4,000 rockets toward Israel.

Thousands are rallying in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, calling for coexistence between Jews and Arabs.

The demonstration on Saturday night was one of several held across Israel to call for peace between Israelis and Palestinians in the wake of 11 days of fighting in Gaza that ended with a cease-fire early on Friday.

Demonstrators marched through the city and later gathered in the central Habima Square to hear from politicians and artists.

Ayman Odeh, the leader of the main Arab party in parliament, called for a Palestinian state to be established alongside Israel. Odeh said: "There are two peoples here. Both deserve the right to self-determination."

Israeli author David Grossman said that "the battle today is not between Arabs and Jews, but between those on both sides who strive to live in peace and in a fair partnership, and those on both sides who are fed by hatred and violence."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.