As hundreds continue to die as Israel and Hamas fight in Gaza, some in the South Florida Jewish community came together Monday to express support and unity with the Israeli people and the Israeli invasion.
“We are here to tell Israel and the rest of the world that we support Israel’s right to not only exist, but Israel’s right to defend itself and its citizens,” said senior Rabbi Guideon Goldenholtz.
The meeting Monday night at the Posnack Jewish Community Center was standing room only and non-denominational as Jews, Protestants, and Catholics were all in attendance at the event. Guest speakers at Monday’s event in Davie said all of the deaths were heartbreaking to watch from afar.
The meeting came as shelling continued of the Palestinian people and Hamas continued firing rockets into Israel. NBC News reported that 570 Palestinians have died, among them more than 150 children and more than 70 women. Israel’s army confirmed that 25 soldiers have been killed since the invasion started.
All total, more than 3,500 have been wounded in the exchange of rocket fire and more than 2,050 rockets have been fired between the two sides.
“My family has a strong connection to Israel,” said Lori Ben-Ezra. “It’s our Jewish homeland and holds a special place in our heart.”
Rena Lederman just returned from spending a year in Israel and saw no evidence of a war-torn country. She and others in attendance said Israel is a peace-loving nation shouldering unwarranted blame for the ongoing violence between the two sides.
“Everything was peaceful and beautiful. Everyone was safe and happy and you couldn’t tell that there would be any problem,” said Lederman. “I saw all the beauty that it had to offer, all the people and all its beauty it has and to not come and support it after that experience I think it would be wrong of me.”
The violence is showing no signs of easing. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has traveled to the region to try to help negotiate a cease-fire between the two sides. The State Department has issued a travel warning for the area due to the ongoing battles.
Hamas issued a statement to NBC News Monday about the fighting in the region. It read in part:
“As for the targeting of civilians, the numbers speak for themselves. Till now, Israel has murdered more than 550 people in Gaza; according to the UN 80 percent of those are civilians, hundreds of them women and children. So it is Netanyahu and his army of war criminals that have targeted and continue to target innocent and defenseless civilians. As for Hamas every single Israeli killed by its fighters or its rockets except one have been soldiers in uniform on duty fully armed and on the battlefield.”