Crowds protest Jewish event in downtown Cleveland - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Local Israelis feel tension from Middle East

Clil Gross (Source: WOIO) Clil Gross (Source: WOIO)
Protesters are crowding behind barriers. (Source: WOIO) Protesters are crowding behind barriers. (Source: WOIO)
Police have increased patrols. (Source: WOIO) Police have increased patrols. (Source: WOIO)

The attacks between Israel and Hamas continue to devastate the Gaza Strip, and local Israelis feel the tension, too.

"It's hard to even imagine unless you've ever been through that," said Clil Gross.

Gross is an Israeli who's been in Cleveland for the past nine months. The Jewish Federation of Cleveland brought her here to educate people about the ongoing clashes in the region.

"I'm very concerned for my family, and for my friends, and for everybody that's there," she said.

In the most recent attacks, Hamas has upgraded its missiles. Some have the ability to reach further and further into Israel with an estimated 100-mile range.

"It's a really fragile reality, that in a second, you can hear a siren, and you have to go and take shelter," said Gross.

She pointed out the situation is "not very new," but this escalation puts more than 1.5 million Israelis in a danger area, and not all of them are near a place to take cover.

Gross will return to Israel in August, but she is unsure what she'll go home to. 

"You have to continue to hope," she said. "I hope for a peaceful resolution, and I hope that this ends very soon."

Protesters angry about the conflict overseas in the Middle East picketed in Cleveland to support Arabs and complain about Israel. They shouted at people showing up for a fundraising event for a major Jewish lobbying group at the new Convention Center, forcing Cleveland Police to line the middle of Lakeside Avenue.

Police didn't stand there with riot gear, but the units included members of the field forces used to control crowds. The field forces were just issued new, updated riot gear.

Guests going inside kept their comments short, and they kept moving.

One woman said, "It's very sad that the two sides can't get along."

One man said, "It's great to be in America where people can express themselves."

Cleveland police didn't take any chances Thursday night, making sure this stayed under control.

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