LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Chants in support of Palestinians ring out from the Michigan capitol lawn Thursday night as fighting continues half a world away. 

Students, families, and organizers waved flags and held signs high in support of Palestinians suffering under war. Since Saturday, Israeli military forces and Hamas militants have been trading blows as the death toll of innocent people rises.

One woman who didn’t share her name with 6 News says it’s devastating to see the images of children falling victim to the war. She says violence is a reaction to a larger history. 

“Israel took Palestine’s houses,” she said. “Everything, they took everything by force.”

Omar Mahmoud helped organize the rally with the Students United for Palestinian Rights.  The Michigan State University student says while his grandfather was pushed out of his home in the late 1940s, he still has family in the region. Watching the coverage of the conflict has been a distraction as he tries to focus on classes. 

Mahmoud says it’s important to separate the people fighting from civilians who he says are facing punishment from the Israeli government.

“Does that mean we agree with what they are doing? Of course not. Any killing of innocent life is clearly condemned. It’s important to see the history behind it all and that things are going on both sides and this is not just a one-sided thing here,” he said. 

“A lot of what’s going on now is retaliation to what Israel has been doing for the past 70 or so years.”

The push to end American aid to Israel’s military is not sitting well with people like Liam Peleg. The MSU senior says he has family members who have been trying to leave the region, but canceled flights are making that hard.  

He says the aid is needed especially on moral ground.

“After the atrocities that have been unfolding in front of our eyes, how can a just entity not stand by?  Not feel the urge to do something?” Peleg asked. 

David Wiener is a member of the Kehillat Israel, a Lansing synagogue. He says he and others have been praying for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. He does add that there is a real fear that losing out on military aid could lead other groups to enter the war against Israel. 

“It’s important at least for this moment for the United States to say “we will provide whatever you need to survive,” said Weiner.