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(photo credit: AP)
Strong winds and fierce rain did not discourage several dozen American yeshiva and university students from attending a rally against Hamas in Jerusalem's Zion Square on Thursday afternoon.
The hour-long rally, dubbed "Wake up the world," was organized by several pro-Israel non-profits in response to Hamas's bombardment of Kassam rockets into Sderot and surrounding areas.
Uriel Ross, 18, of Ramot, a student at the Ma'ale Gilboa yeshiva, said that he attended the rally to express his opinion that things need to change.
"I went to volunteer in Sderot and saw that people are scared to shower, scared to go out with their kids," he said.
"Israel needs to retaliate militarily so that people become afraid of shooting rockets into Israel," Ross said. "I know the situation for Palestinians in Gaza is horrible, but their government is not taking care of them - they are brought up to hate. We need to think about Israeli citizens first."
Leah Yadegar, 20, of Los Angeles, a student at University of California, Santa Barbara, came to protest what she called a double standard that the international media places on Israel.
"If my home in Los Angeles were under constant attack by an outside entity, not only would my community be permitted to defend itself, but it would be obligated to do so," Yadegar said.
"As a member of a Western democracy, I feel sympathy and empathy with the people and especially the children of Sderot," she said. "They are subject to terrorist barrages of Kassams daily, but their situation receives zero attention from the Western media."
Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, briefly addressed the rally, which was sponsored by The David Project, Aish HaTorah, Stand With Us and the Sderot Media Center.
Marcus told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas' goal in firing the Kassams is to draw Israel into a ground war, which would lead to high approval ratings in Gaza and result in a Hamas victory in the next elections there.
"Hamas' popularity has gone down tremendously recently, a situation comparable to [Yasser] Arafat's in 2000," said Marcus, "and when Arafat was lower in the polls, he started a conflict to gain popularity."