Leaders of Jewish and Muslim communities in Orange County stand in solidarity amid war in Israel

Jessica De Nova Image
Thursday, October 12, 2023
OC Jewish, Muslim communities stand in solidarity amid war in Israel
Leaders of the Muslim and Jewish communities in Orange County have organized events in a show of solidarity with those affected by the ongoing conflict in the Gaza region.

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- Leaders of the Muslim and Jewish communities in Orange County have organized events in a show of solidarity with those affected by the ongoing conflict in the Gaza region.

As war between Israel and Hamas rages on, demonstrations continued in Orange County.

In a show of solidarity with the lives affected, this past Tuesday night in Irvine, local, state and federal leaders leader joined the Jewish Federation of Orange County in a vigil 1,600 strong. Rabbi David Eliezrie of Chabad Beth Meir HaCohen was one of the speakers at the event.

"I was very much emboldened by the tremendous outpouring of community support. We're in a crisis the Jews haven't seen since the holocaust," Eliezrie said.

Eliezrie said he was continuously hearing from members of his congregation about the loss of life and hostages overseas. His own granddaughter was bunkering down as conflict grew and other armed groups joined the warfare.

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A young man who was at a music festival in Israel when Hamas militants launched their attack arrived safely in Los Angeles and reunited with his family.

"My granddaughter was in a shelter in northern Israel just an hour ago because of a threat that came from Hezbollah in Lebanon," Eliezrie said.

Shaykh Mustafa Umir said the Muslim community at the Islamic Center of Irvine was also hearing firsthand accounts of the devastation.

Rahaf Ibrahim, Khadra Batniji and Hasna El-Nounou said they were in contact with loved ones in Gaza whenever internet service was available, and the news was often tragic.

"They've had their food supply cut out. They've had their electricity cut out. They barely have fresh water. They have genuinely nothing and are continuing to be attacked," Ibrahim said.

"They move from house to house just to stay safe, because most of their homes demolished," Batniji said.

MORE: Israeli survivor recounts terror at music festival where Hamas militants killed at least 260

At least nine American citizens were killed in the attacks in Israel over the weekend, a U.S. State Department spokesman said.

"This is scary because every single day, you know, you're just kind of waiting for the next text to find out who got impacted, who is not with us anymore," El-Nounou said.

Though through different approaches, leaders of both faiths agreed the people of Gaza must be liberated.

"Israel has no choice. It must go into Gaza. It's gonna be a bitter, harsh battle, and it has to root out Hamas and those who will benefit even more than the Israelis are the Arabs in Gaza who are being held under this terrible regime," Eliezrie said.

"The one-sided policy of, 'It's okay to violate international law. It's okay to be above the law and to target civilians.' This policy, which the United States has been giving to Israel for decades now, that needs to change because this is what has resulted and what we're seeing today," Umir said.

The Islamic center of Irvine was scheduled to host an event Friday evening to educate the community about the history of conflict in the Gaza Strip region.