(WKBN) – As violence continues in the Gaza Strip, First News is hearing from people with Youngstown ties about what they or their family are experiencing overseas as the conflict appears to be escalating.
“It’s unimaginable sometimes. I say to people I’m a girl from Youngstown, Ohio. Is this possible? it’s like — it’s like a movie,” said Janet Agassi, who grew up in Youngstown.
Though she grew up in Youngstown, she moved to Israel in 1982.
She lives in Tel Aviv, north of the Gaza Strip, the area at the center of increasing violence between Israelis and Palestinians this week.
“Did I ever think growing up in Youngstown that I would be hearing sirens and running into a shelter to protect my family? I mean, imagine all of you there, can you imagine getting up in the morning and saying, ‘I have to run with my family because my neighbors in Boardman hate me and they want to kill me,'” Agassi said.
“There are so many local connections to what’s going on around the world,” said Bonnie Deutsch Burdman of the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown.
With military action coming from both sides, including rockets fired by Hamas and Israelis using airstrikes and tanks on the ground, more than a hundred lives have been lost in the escalating violence.
“The reason this continues is because of this leadership with the stated goal of wiping Jews off the map and running them into the seas,” Burdman said.
But that’s a point of controversy in this larger conflict. While some see Israel as the victim, others blame it for the conflict.
“When we talk about Israel dropping bombs on Gaza, it is a genocide. These people do not have anywhere to go. The borders are blocked,” said Haneen Adi.
Adi grew up in Youngstown but spent two years in Palestine.
“I have a lot of family and friends over there right now, and they’re all extremely nervous. They’re scared. They know that, essentially, they don’t have any protection,” Adi said.
It’s an increasingly frightening situation for people with ties to the Mahoning Valley on both sides of the conflict.