Rockford’s Jewish and Muslim leaders react to eruption of violence in Israel


ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Local Jews and Muslims have been reacting to the eruption of deadly violence between Israel and Palestinian militants, the most severe since 2014.

Dozens of people have been killed in the conflict so far, and reports suggest Israeli forces are preparing for a ground war. The military said it was activating some 5,000 reservists and sending troop reinforcements to the Gaza border.

Imam Mohamed Elghobashy celebrated the Muslim holiday of Ramadan on Thursday with others outside the Muslim Association of Greater Rockford, at 5921 Darlene Drive.

“Always, they come and attack our people, our civil people, our civilians, in Palestine during this month,” Elghobashy said of the conflict. “They demolish their houses, they invade their mosques and, of course, we all are sad. We all are sad. We have a lot of sorrow, because of what is going on there.”

This round of violence, like previous ones, was fueled by conflicting claims over Jerusalem, home to major holy sites of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The rival national and religious narratives of Israelis and Palestinians are rooted in the city, making it the emotional core of their long conflict.

In recent weeks, tension has been soaring in Jerusalem, marked by clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in the walled Old City, located in east Jerusalem which Israel captured and annexed in the 1967 war.

At Temple Beth-El synagogue, 1203 Comanche Dr, Rabbi Binah Wing says she believes the recent attacks aren’t just about long-standing issues between Israeli’s and Palestinians, and she says there is a way both peoples can co-exist.

“We hate the bad guys. We love the good guys. It’s as simple as that,” Wing said. “In that part of the world, it’s never been that simple. Some of it, I think, involves learning the other person’s story and validating the other person’s story as having some merit.”

Wing says both clergy have worked together in events in the past, to teach people about their religious history, and said he would welcome the opportunity to do it again.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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