Support for Israel rally planned in downtown Chicago relocated after alleged threats of violence

A rally in support of Israel that was scheduled to occur outside the Dirksen Federal Building Sunday had to be moved after allegedly receiving threats from a pro-Hamas group.

Jewish leaders and community members ended up gathering at Foster Beach, where they prayed for peace and honored the victims killed in the ongoing conflict.

This comes two weeks after the surprise attack on Israel by Hamas.

At the demonstration, community members held pictures of hostages in hand, saying they would not be silenced.

"When I found out it just broke my heart," said Jeremiah Smith about his childhood friend Hersh Polin. 

Polin was allegedly kidnapped by Hamas at Israel’s Peace Concert on Oct. 7.

Jeremiah Smith lived with Polin’s grandmother in Chicago for years.

At last check, the 23-year-old’s arm was blown off by a hand grenade. Polin hasn’t been heard from since.

"He’s a smart kid, always helping out everybody. He loved sports and going around playing basketball", Smith said.

Jewish leaders said antagonizers sent threats on social media in response to the planned rally Sunday

"We have freedom to speak and freedom to assemble peacefully, but today those freedoms were threatened, that’s never acceptable", said attendee Inna Tsimerman.

Additionally, organizers said certain groups took flyers promoting the rally and wrote threats on those, saying they would cause violence at the event.

"This isn’t a war against the Palestinian people. This isn’t a war against the Arab people. This is a war against terrorists who, if not checked, will commit more acts of terror" said Ira Piltz, who attended the demonstration at Foster Beach.

More than 4,600 people have been killed in Gaza since. President Joe Biden continues to condemn the attack by Hamas.