LAS CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – (Tuesday) An air strike at a Gaza hospital is estimated to have killed hundreds of people as the war between Israel and Hamas continues. The conflict is continuing to affect people here in the Badger State. Before the bombing Tuesday, First News at Nine’s Dashal Mentzel spoke with a rabbi in La Crosse about how the Coulee Region is coming together to support those who have been impacted by the conflict.
Congregation Sons of Abraham is a synagogue in La Crosse that has been seeing plenty of people praying for peace. Rabbi Brian Serle says there’s been support from both Christian and Muslim groups in the area, “I love the outpouring of support we’ve gotten from our Christian and Muslim neighbors. I’ve got about 50 emails, phone calls, text messages asking how can they pray for us. Where can they send donations for the Magen David Adom, the Red Cross of Israel? the support has been overwhelming. It’s amazing.”
Serle says the war is personal to him since he has family that lives in Israel, “A lot of us have either family or friends there. My son lives there with my five grandchildren. Many of us have been to Israel and support Israel in many ways financially, emotionally, spiritually. It’s been in our minds all the time. So, for many people here, they’re very sorely affected. And just on a humanitarian level, regardless of their religious affiliation.”
UW-La Crosse Associate Professor of History, Heidi Morrison, says this conflict has been going on for decades and Hamas is angry with the way Israel has treated the land of Gaza, “These areas are under Israeli military rule. So, there is no sovereignty of the people of Gaza and of the people of the West Bank. No full sovereignty. Israel controls all the land borders, all the airspace, all the waterways. Even the population registries.”
Serle, and many others, are praying that this conflict comes to an end soon, “We had almost all of our congregation here coming up and saying things about the relative prayers of morning prayers or prayers to God for peace, praying for people on both sides of the conflict, not just Israelis, but also the noncombatant people, the Palestinian people in Gaza who just want to go on with their lives. I just think it’s really important that we pray for people and to come to the table and want to have peace together.”
In response to the hospital bombing, The Coulee Region Coalition for Palestinian Rights said in part in a statement, quote, “Israel has targeted residential neighborhoods, medical facilities, ambulances, schools, and mosques. When this war ends, the United Nations and Red Cross that enter Gaza will be overcome by the sight of savage cruelty and death.”