San Francisco pro-Israel rally calls for hostage release

As the deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas enters week four, hundreds of hostages are still being held against their will.

The Bay Area Jewish community is calling for their immediate release.

Organizers tell KTVU more than 1,700 people gathered at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco Sunday to call on Hamas to stand down.

The demonstrations may be over, but their message is loud and clear.

Pro-Israel demonstrators on Sunday demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages.

The number of hostages climbed to 239 Sunday, according to the Consulate General of Israel, Ambassador Marco Sermoneta.

"Our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, sons and daughters, bring them home now," Sermoneta said.

Demonstrators are calling for the International Committee of the Red Cross to gain access to the hostages to provide aid and for Hamas to surrender.

"We want peace. We want to sit next to our Palestinian brothers and sisters," Jewish Community Relations Council Bay Area CEO Tyler Gregory told KTVU. "That’s at the end of the day what we’re hoping for, and we think Hamas is a barrier to that."

Jewish people from all political backgrounds and from all over the Bay Area added their voices to the fight for peace.

"Their very clearly stated goal is the elimination of a Jewish state anywhere in the Jewish indigenous homeland," Stand With Us member Michael Harris said.

"Jews are not going to leave Israel or the Middle East," Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa member Sarah Levin said. "We’ve been there for thousands of years, and we’re not going anywhere."

Racist graffiti targeting Jews was found near Oakland’s Lake Merritt over the weekend.

For Stand With Us member Johanna Meckel, the fear of retaliation is real.

"I just took a mezuzah off my front door which is what we have in front of most Jewish homes because I’m just terrified for the safety of my children," Meckel said.

A much larger pro-Palestinian rally in San Francisco Saturday, called for Israel to back down.

Wassin Hage is with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center.

"A ceasefire is the humanitarian option right now and our elected officials are not listening," Hage said.

The massive crowd of 15,000 shut down the northbound lanes of Highway 101 to get their message across.

"People are saying no more, never again, no more genocide," Hage said.

 Organizers of both demonstrations promise the rallies will continue until the conflict is over.