The statements follow a surprise attack when Hamas gunmen rolled into locations outside and surrounding the Gaza Strip. According to reports from the Associated Press, the national rescue service in Israel, or Zaka, as of Saturday afternoon says hundreds of people have been killed and over a thousand injured in what’s been referred to as one of the deadliest attack on Israel in decades.
“Once again, terrorists and enemies of peace attacked the people of Israel on a holy day of the Jewish calendar. Hundreds of Israelis are wounded and dozens are dead. That number is expected to rise,” the statement from Youngstown Area Jewish Federation reads.
“The attack came on Simchat Torah, when Jews complete the annual cycle of reading the Torah scroll, normally a joyous day, as well as the 50th anniversary of the 1973 War in which Arab states blitzed Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. This year, however, Hamas declared war, launching an unprecedented wide-ranging mass attack. We, alongside the United States government, unequivocally condemn the unprovoked attack, and fully support Israel’s right to defend itself. We pray for the safety of our Israeli brethren, and offer our condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed in the attack.”Andrew Lipkin, Youngstown Area Jewish Federation CEO, and Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, Youngstown Area Jewish Federation executive director of community relations/government affairs
The statement follows an announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who declared Israel was “at war” and called for a mass mobilization of army reserves.
The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, with Congregation Ohev Beth Sholom and Temple El Emeth, held a vigil Sunday night in light of the attacks.
About 50 people came together to pray for peace and security of Israel. Some people spoke to the crowd — including a pre-recorded video from a man from the Youngstown area and is currently in Israel serving in the war efforts.
The vigil was about more than just mourning those who died.
“Israel is the homeland of the Jewish People, and we have such a strong affinity for Israel,” said Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, with the Youngstown Jewish federation. “We will stand for Israel Always. We will stand for Israel when it comes to U.S. support. We will stand with Israel when it comes to support for leaders around the world.”
In response to the attacks, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that Saturday and Sunday will be observed as “Days of Prayer” for those in Israel in a proclamation co-signed by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.
“Fran and I extend our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families of the unprovoked attack on Israel today. We offer our support to the people of Israel and condemn this unjustified act by Hamas.”
Also on Saturday afternoon, the Arab American Community Center of Youngstown released a statement regarding the current events overseas.
“The AACC is once again extending our condolences to the lives lost in the long-standing occupied territories of Palestine. The loss of innocent lives is never a desired outcome on either side. The history of occupation and oppression is long-lived and this attack is not unprovoked. The oppressed have a right to defend themselves. We urge the world to open their eyes to the war at hand and understand the core of the Palestinian resistance. We stand in support of the Palestinian people and their right to freedom, as with all those who struggle under occupation.”
Tino DiCenso contributed to this report.