S Fla Israelis, Muslims watch conflict in Middle East escalate
Updated On: Nov 16 2012 12:49:14 PM EST
As hundreds of rockets are launched in the Middle East by Hamas and Israel, the heaviest violence in the area in four years is sparking concern in South Florida.
Chaim Shacham, the Israel Consul General in Miami, reacted Thursday as Palestinian militants continued rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and Israel pounded what it called terror sites.
"There were several Israelis hurt," said Shacham. "The threat comes from Hamas. When they no longer threaten, we won't take action to defend ourselves."
The airstrikes between the two continued into Friday morning. A visit from Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil had prompted a three-hour truce, but it was broken. Kandil said Egypt will do all it can to make sure a truce is reached.
Israel reported three people were killed, and Palestinians reported 19 deaths. Hamas gave conflicting information as to how many of them were Hamas militants.
"I'm very worrisome," said Wilfredo Ruiz with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "A lot of people have families there."
At least 300 rockets from Gaza have been fired into Israel since "Operation Pillar of Defense" began Wednesday, the Israeli military said. Israel's Iron Dome defense system has intercepted 130, the Israel Defense Forces said. The al-Qassam Brigade, Hamas' military arm, said on its Twitter feed that it had shot 527 projectiles at Israel in that time.
"Why it comes again? Because the conditions...have not changed," said Ruiz. "The avenue they see is the extremist and violent avenue."
"We decided enough is enough. Every county has not just the right, but the responsibility to defend its citizens," said Shacham.
Ruiz said South Florida's Muslim community is praying for a peaceful solution.
"With strong diplomacy, international diplomacy, it is possible," said Ruiz. "It's not true that Muslims and Jews cannot live together in peace, side by side."
According to reports, Israel is preparing for peace by considering a plan to deploy 30,000 troops on the ground.
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