Demonstrators gather in Portland to protest attacks on Gaza

PORTLAND, Ore. - Hundreds of demonstrators gathered and marched Thursday night in downtown Portland and the Lloyd District to protest Israel's attacks in Gaza.

A demonstration at Pioneer Courthouse Square got underway at about 6 p.m. and the protesters took to the streets for a march about an hour and 15 minutes later. A rally in the Lloyd District involving cars and bicycles was also planned. The two events were expected to merge downtown.

The march was peaceful, and the marchers returned to Pioneer Courthouse Square just before 8:30 p.m.

In a news release, a group called Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) said 11 Portland organizations were coming together to protest Israel's ground and air assaults in Gaza. Organizers said they expected at least 600 people to participate.

March organizer Zaha Hassan believed the demonstration might help pressure the U.S. to help broker an end to the violence.

"I hope so," Hassan said, "I hope things can reach a calm again. But I don't think it will happen unless the siege in Gaza is lifted."

Rivka Spain supports Israel, and turned out to counter the demonstration.

"Israel has agreed to have many stop-fires," Spain said. "In fact three. And they have stopped firing into Gaza, in which Hamas - the governing agent of Hamas - has still broken the cease fire and launched their rockets into southern Israel."

Noah Hochman told KATU News he is an American Jew who used to support Israel's policies in the Middle East. He joined the protest in support of the Palestinians.

"And I can't stand idly by," Hochman said, "when a state has taken my religion, and is using bombs and weapons in its name."

Neither event was permitted, police say, but they anticipated a peaceful event.

"The hope of the Portland Police Bureau is for the event to be a peaceful expression of free speech without infringing on the rights of others and officers will exercise discretion throughout the event," police said in a statement before the demonstration.