About 75 protest in support of Israel

BRADENTON — Braving the chill air, more than 75 demonstrators representing about a dozen local churches and temples protested at the Historic Manatee County Courthouse square.

The participants, bundled in coats and hats, rallied for Isreal in hopes of raising awarness about the war in Gaza, between Israel and its and the militant Islamist group Hamas.

Demonstrators standing outside the Historic Manatee County Courthouse listened to scripture readings and waved Israeli and other flags.

Tgroup chanted pro-Israel slogans as they stood in front of the downtown war memorial.

“We stand for Israel and the right for her to defend herself,” the demonstrators said in unison.

“This isn’t a negative thing or a protest, we just want people to know she has a right to defend herself,” said Joann Caruso, who attends Christian Family Fellowship in Bradenton.

Barbara Nelson, also from Christian Family Fellowship, called the rally nondenominational and said both Christians and Jews were in attendance.

“After hearing about all the anger oriented Hamas we decided to do something,” Nelson said. “We’re uniting together.”

At one point, as music played from two speakers, the group faced Manatee Avenue and stood in silence for 15 minutes. When the silence ended, about a half-dozen demonstrators blew into Shofars, musical instruments resembling a ram's horn used for religious purposes.

About a half-dozen deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office stood nearby keeping a close eye.