Pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian rallies take place blocks apart in Raleigh

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Monday, October 23, 2023
Pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian rallies take place blocks apart
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Sunday was another day of emotional protest in downtown Raleigh.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Sunday was another day of emotional protest in downtown Raleigh.

The first event, organized by Voice4Israel of North Carolina, took place in Bicentennial Mall and called for the safe release of the Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on October 7th. The rally included local faith leaders, state representatives, and concerned Triangle residents.

"We need to make sure that kids, parents, and innocent civilians will be out of those horrors," said Noa Roth, who helped organize the event. "We were born into a place,...we didn't write the fate of ourselves. We just want to live, like everybody."

Raleigh native Aaron Spiliopolous is a duel-citizen and Olympic hopeful for Israel's bobsled team in 2026. He says several teammates have already been called up for military service amid the ongoing fighting.

"As important as training is, it's more important that they go defend our country and try to bring all these hostages from all these different countries home," said Spiliopolous.

ALSO SEE: Community members in Cary write letters to congressmen calling for ceasefire in Middle East

Just after the rally on Bicentennial Mall wrapped up, a pro-Palestinian protest took place in Moore Square -- the second there in two weeks. Thousands more people attended on Sunday, calling for Palestinian freedom and a cease-fire in Gaza.

"I have been protesting for peace for decades. All I know is that not doing anything, guarantees that nothing can change. At the very least we make our voice known, at the very least we're present," said Rania Masri, one of the organizers of that event.

Masri says she's heartbroken by what's transpired in Gaza but is emboldened by the support she's seen for Palestinians both across the country and in the Triangle.

"That's beautiful. It's beautiful seeing people hold onto their humanity. What we need, though, if we live in a democracy, is for our congressional representatives to listen to our cry," she said.

At one point during the first, pro-Israel event, a small group of pro-Palestinian rallygoers arrived across from Bicentennial Mall, near the Legislature, leading to a brief back-and-forth between the two sides. Ultimately, both events remained peaceful.