ST. LOUIS – Israel remains under attack after Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets into Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip on Saturday.
“Imagine Chesterfield shot rockets at downtown St. Louis. This is the distance,” Snir Dagan, an Israeli educator living in St. Louis, said.
Dagan watch the news from his St. Louis apartment, fearing for the lives of his family and friends.
“All of the windows in my apartment were shattered. My mom found a piece of metal from the rocket in my 10-year-old brother’s bed,” Dagan said.
Dagan’s family in Israel survived the blast and sought safety with relatives nearby. He works as an Israeli educator in St. Louis after serving in the Israeli military. The timing of Saturday’s surprise attack disgusts him.
“We’re talking 7:00 a.m. Israel time. Saturday morning. In what we call Simchat Torah or the Joy of Torah. How sick can you be to start a war on one of the most joyful days on the Jewish calendar?” Dagan said.
“This is not like any other conflict we’ve ever seen,” Brian Herstig, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, said.
While this conflict is happening thousands of miles away, Herstig says the newest incarnation of this decades-long war has an impact right here in St. Louis.
“We have many families from St. Louis who’ve moved there, whose children are now being called up. And we have many Israelis—over 400 Israeli families in this community—who served, and their children may be called to serve as well,” Herstig said. “Our job is to support the people of Israel who’ve experienced trauma and loss. We will be there as a community to help pick them up.”
“This violence has to stop,” Edward Ahmed Mitchell, national deputy director of the Council on American and Islamic Relations, said.
The organization stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people and what they say is their right to freedom from the Israeli occupation.
“The way to end this horrific violence that’s taking Israeli and Palestinian lives, even American lives, now; the way to end this violence is to end the occupation. I can’t say it enough. That’s what has to happen here.” Mitchell said.
“This is a tragedy for the men, women, children, the people of Israel,” Herstig said. “We need to stand behind them at this time and say terrorism won’t stand, but we stand with Israel.”
The core of this conflict is rooted in decades of controversy. It’s not a simple history, and a rapid resolution seems unlikely. With the death toll rising, the world is watching and waiting to see what happens next.