In brief but strong words Thursday night, Gov. Mark Dayton offered support for Israel and condemned the actions of Palestinian political organization Hamas as their conflict rages in the Middle East.
The Israelis are "defending themselves against Hamas' terrorism," he told the Community Gathering for Israel, an event put on by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. Hamas "is not representing Gazans who want peace. Instead, he said, they've pursued conflict.
About 1,300 people attended the event at the Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka. Outside, a group sang in support of Israel, while Palestinian supporters protested outside of the street entrance.
Ourside and across the street, Minneapolis attorney Jordan Kushner was among a group of protesters from the Minnesota Coalition of Palestinian Rights who chanted opposition to Israel's acrions.
"We want to see the U.S. cut off military and other aid for Israel," he said. "We'd like to see Israel abide by international law to end the occupation of Palestine and provide equal rights."
Conflict enters 18th day
Israeli aircraft have struck dozens of houses in the Gaza Strip today, killing a leader of the militant Islamic Jihad group and two of his sons.
Palestinian officials say Israeli ground troops and Hamas gunmen fought intense battles in the north and center of the territory.
The Israeli military says it hit 45 sites in Gaza, including what it says was a Hamas military command post.
On the 18th day of fighting today, Israel's Security Cabinet plans to meet to consider international cease-fire proposals.
A senior official with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the West Bank says one plan calls for a five-day humanitarian truce during which Israel and Hamas would negotiate new border arrangements for blockaded Gaza.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)