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Gaza Strip violence sparks D.C. protests

Friday - 11/16/2012, 4:24am  ET

Recent violence in the Gaza Strip drew competing protests in D.C. (WTOP/Alina Braun)
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John Aaron,

WASHINGTON - The recent violence in the Gaza Strip is sparking demonstrations in Washington, D.C.

Activists from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict gathered outside the White House on Thursday, chanting, singing and, at times, shouting at each other. Supporters of Israel, holding signs and with flags draped over their shoulders, began showing up on Pennsylvania Avenue around 6 p.m.

Ari Hoffman, a student at George Washington University, helped organize the demonstration, which he says was mostly made up of area college students.

"We wanted to come here and show our support for the U.S., show our support for their relationship [with Israel], and really wanted to say ‘thank you' for standing with Israel in this difficult time."

Also at 6 p.m., a group supporting Palestinians in Gaza met a few blocks away, outside the State Department, before marching to the White House.

A Facebook event page described the gathering as a response to what it says is U.S. government support of "brutal aggression" in Gaza.

"Israel doesn't move at all without the green light of the U.S.," said protestor Mike Stark, of Silver Spring, Md.

Each side appeared to have more than 100 people in attendance. As the groups converged, some heated words were exchanged between the sides, and police swiftly moved to separate them. Officers dragged in crowd-control barriers and stood in between the opposing demonstrations.

For a time, the section of Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Lafayette Square was closed to pedestrian traffic.

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