Local Israeli family watches Middle East tensions

November 16, 2012 8:12:33 PM PST
President Barack Obama has again spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about escalating violence in the Gaza Strip.

The White House says Netanyahu called Obama on Friday to provide an update on the situation in Israel and Gaza. Netanyahu expressed appreciation to Obama and the American people for U.S. investment in the Iron Dome rocket and mortar defense system, which has been used to defend Israel against rocket attacks from Gaza. The two leaders also spoke Wednesday.

The White House says Obama reiterated U.S. support for Israel's right to self-defense and expressed regret over the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives.

Militant groups have staged rocket attacks against Israel, which has killed the military chief of the ruling Hamas militant group and conducted dozens of airstrikes into Gaza.

Meanwhile, a Raleigh family with loved ones in Israel is watching the news with concern. They have family members just south of Tel Aviv who are caught in the middle of the gunfire.

Limor Schwartz is hoping the violence comes to an end quickly. She actually has a trip planned to visit relatives in Israel next month but news reports right now are keeping her overwhelmed by the chaos there.

"My last couple of days have been really, really stressful," said Schwartz. "I've been watching TV. I've been trying to talk to my parents, to all our friends that are in Israel."

Schwartz, who grew up in Bat Yam, said she's used to hearing about turbulence south of Tel Aviv, but not along the central coast where she's from.

"What is new is the fact that they're shooting to the middle of Tel Aviv," she said. "That they're shooting towards Jerusalem. Now they're not targeting the Army. They are targeting innocent civilians that are living their life."

So far, the Israeli government has called up 20,000 reservists to prepare for seven weeks of fighting with Hamas.

Seven weeks would overlap Schwartz's trip next month to visit family who haven't seen their one-year-old since she was an infant.

"We hope that by that time and a lot before that hopefully the situation is going to calm down," said Schwartz.

But if it doesn't, she and her relatives believe Israel will take the right action.

"They're all very optimistic and they know that it's very important for this to happen right now," said Schwartz. "They're all standing behind the government."

Schwartz said she has a lot of Facebook friends who've received draft notices to join the Israeli offensive. She said they're all joining willingly because they want to protect their children, spouses and country.

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