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    Supporters of Palestine and Israel react to announcement of war

    Groups gathered at a rally for the freedom of Palestine in Atlanta.

    ATLANTA — Sunday, Israel declared war against Hamas militants.

    Local supporters and opposers are explaining what they’ve experienced.

    Talia Segal said she has family in Israel.

    “I’m heartbroken. This is a shock. I’m in pain,” Segal said.

    Segal said she’s lucky her loved ones are still alive.

    “I, immediately, called my grandmother who lives in Israel,” Segal said.

    Segal said her grandmother didn’t even know what was going on.

    “She had gone to walk her dog in the morning and heard booms in the sky and thought there was something wrong with her ears,” Segal said. “And she turned on the TV. And she said, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ Thankfully, she’s okay at the moment.”

    The booms Segal’s grandma heard were likely airstrikes after retaliation from Hamas.

    Atlanta Rabbi Peter Berg said he was devastated. He rushed back home from vacation.

    “I have been a rabbi, now, for more than 25 years,” Berg said. “I have never seen anything like this in my life.  Israel has always had to watch its back–been attacked–ever since its founding.”  

    Berg said the support for the Jewish community is already pouring in. 

    The same goes for the people of Palestine. Groups came out for a rally for freedom, in Atlanta, Sunday afternoon.

    A demonstrator, who asked us to not share her identity, spoke at the rally.

    “The Israeli occupation has the backing of much of The West, of the U.S. — that has the strongest military in the world,” the demonstrator said, “And our tax dollars, here in the U.S., are supporting that.”

    The demonstrator said that what’s happening in Israel wasn’t a surprise but a result of rising tensions for years.

    “The limiting of their access to life-giving water, goods, food, medicines,” said the demonstrator. 

    Berg had a different perspective.

    “Israel gave the land, where Gaza is, to the Palestinian people — gave it to them and walked away,” Berg said. “And this is the response.”

    Berg said Palestinians deserve rights. However, he said Hamas is a terrorist organization that cannot be negotiated with.

    “If you really are concerned about the rights of Palestinians, the first thing we have to do is make sure Hamas does not have control,” Berg said.

    Berg compares the casualties of the last few days to 9/11. And he said nothing justifies a massive attack on a civilian population. For now, all he can do is brace for the next few weeks.

    “The national anthem, in Israel, is called Hatikvah,” Berg said. “And that means ‘the hope.’ So, Israelis and Jews always hope for peace. There’s no other way.”

    • Monday, at 7:30 p.m., there will be an evening of prayer and unity at Chabad of Cobb, in Marietta.
    • Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a gathering of support for Israel at the City Springs Performing Arts Center, in Sandy Springs.


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