Gaza Strip fighting impacts WMass residents

Palestinians evacuated in anticipation of more Israeli airstrikes.

Palestinians walk past the ruins of the Al-Tawfeeq mosque after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in the Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Palestinian officials said Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas in Gaza hit a mosque and a center for the disabled where two women were killed Saturday, raising the Palestinian death toll from the offensive to more than 120, that showed no signs of slowing down. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is escalating this weekend in the Gaza Strip.

While it may seem so distant to us, 22News found out how people here in Western Massachusetts are impacted by the deadly crisis.

Gaza Strip is a heavily contested area between Israelis and Palestinians, who are led by what’s considered an extreme Islamic sect known as Hamas. Israelis and Palestinians have fought over this land, the West Bank and the State of Israel for decades.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for Israel’s recent airstrikes that have killed 160 Palestinians. Hamas has fired back at Israel, but there haven’t been any deaths reported from those attacks in the past week.

Many Jewish people from Western Massachusetts have visited Israel and are deeply impacted by this violence.

“The Hebrew word is sachel, there’s no real thought about this. They just want to kill everybody…The Palestinians are getting the best they can from Israel and yet they’re not doing the right thing for anybody,” said Stan Friedman, who spoke with 22News at the Jewish Community Center in Springfield.

As much as this is a dispute over land ownership, it’s also turned into a battle over religious ideology. Since the Jewish community here in Western Massachusetts has been impacted, we also wanted to find out how Muslims have been affected. Unfortunately, no one was at the Islamic Center of Western Massachusetts on Sunday morning.

The Muslim religion teaches peace, yet Hamas has been linked to suicide bombs in Israeli cities over the years.

“I think that’s a real extremist form of Islam and I don’t think most Muslims are like that,” said Josh Kita of West Springfield.

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the United Nations for international protection for his people.

The United States is a close ally to Israel, but many told 22News they didn’t think this conflict would lead to more U.S. involvement.

“It’s just a very complicated situation that they’re dealing with and there’s no short-term or long-term thing on how it’s going to end at this point,” Frederick Harley of Westfield said.

As the violence continues, international organizations are calling for a ceasefire in the fighting.

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