Calls for peace increase as Israeli-Palestinian conflict circles back to the U.S. with nationwide protests


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Across the nation and centrally in Austin Israeli and Palestinian solidarity groups are demanding an end to the latest eruption of violence between Hamas and Israel.

Members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee marched along South Congress Saturday, while earlier this week the Israeli American Council also demonstrated.

As the two groups did so, missiles shot into the air in and out of the Gaza Strip.

“So many families are getting displaced, and then the bombing in Gaza is also displacing citizens,” said a Palestine Solidarity Committee Supporter Saturday.

“We want to support Israeli and all of their families and friends sitting in safe rooms and cannot go on with their lives,” said Shelly Schwartz, of the Israeli American Council.

As missiles shoot in and out of the Gaza Strip, many civilians are given less than a minute to get inside a bomb shelter.

“I’m getting ready to chop up some vegetables for lunch, and I hear a siren. I grab my dog and some shoes and run down into the basement where we have a bomb shelter,” said Netta Ben-Hashal. “We have a minute and a half to run down to a shelter when we hear a siren.”

Netta Ben-Hashal is an American citizen living and working in Tel Aviv, an Israeli City.

“I’m thinking about the mom who has to grab three kids and pull them out of bed, because these sirens are happening at 2:30 and 3:00 in the morning,” said Ben-Hashal.

University of Texas Public Affairs Professor Jeremi Suri says a court case became the boiling point for the rise in violence earlier this week.

“We’ve seen an escalating situation of conflict that really is most recently about a neighborhood in East Jerusalem,” said Suri.

The court case follows the Israeli government siding with the Israeli settlers moving into parts of Jerusalem, evicting longstanding Palestinians living there. Hamas, a known terrorist group, but also a group led with Palestinian support has fought back.

“What the strategy Hamas has pursued is a stockpile of rockets that they can fire from Gaza and elsewhere into Israeli territory,” said Suri. “Israel has full control of the air, so Israel has by far the dominant force. Hamas’ only position is to terrorize Israeli neighborhoods.”

Israel has what’s called an iron dome or David’s sling, which is essentially a big shield that is supposed to block the missiles, but some missiles are still firing through.

Suri says the conflict won’t be solved with missiles or sided protests across the U.S.

“We need to be proponents of peace. Supporting escalation and making belligerent statements in the U.S. on behalf of the Palestinians or the Israelites does not help the situation. It never has. The best thing to do is to call for a cease fire,” said Suri.

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