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WNY Israelis and Palestinians concerned for families in the region as violence continues

Israel Palestinians Gaza City
Posted at 11:37 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 23:46:06-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Israeli and Palestinian Western New Yorkers are concerned for their loved ones back home.

On Friday, dozens gathered outside the JCC of Greater Buffalo to hold a vigil for Israel, singing and hearing from speakers.

“We are the jewish community, and Israel is the one and only Jewish state, and many of us have relatives in Israel and as you can hear form my accent I’m from there as well, originally," said JCC Chief Programming Officer Gon Erez. "And this is why it’s so important to us to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters.”

Erez said his heart breaks every time he reads the news. He's concerned for his family and friends across Israel.

“Everyone gets to feel what's happening, especially because it’s not just rocket attacks from Gaza, it’s always riots within the cities of Israel," Erez said. "So almost everyone can feel this escalation in violence.”

Palestinian American Rashad Qasas is also concerned.

“What's going through my head," Qasas said. "It's just angry, sad, upset, any other word in that dictionary goes in that line.”

He's thinking of his family in the West Bank and the people in Gaza.

“We wanted to be liberated, we want to be free from the aggression, from the occupation, as any other people that freedom loving people, and what is going on right now is to deny us that," Qasas said.

On Friday, violence spread to the West Bank, as airstrikes over the Gaza Strip continue.

WNYMuslims Founding President Faizan Haq said he fears the cycle of human loss will continue, unless there's a solution.

“We cannot just kick the can down the road," Haq said. "We have to find a solution which is equitable, which is just, and which deals with both people, both parties of the conflict, not at the cost of each other."

“Life in Israel in the past week has been very hard, and I also know that lives in Gaza are unbearable, but I just want to send a message of peace,” Erez said.