Local Muslims, Jews react to Gaza attacks

RALEIGH A Cary man whose family still lives in the West Bank and a Durham Rabbi who chairs a national Jewish Alliance, have both been watching and reading up on the violence in Gaza.

They say they were surprised by it and both believe the vast majority of Israeli and Palestinian citizens want peace. But the question is they say when will that come?

"I feel a great deal of pain," Rabbi John Friedman said.

Rabbi Friedman leads the Judea Reform Congregation in Durham and is national chair for the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace.

He says that Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas, but he wonders if Israel's response has been disproportionate.

"Violence has really never helped, and I'm not sure, exactly, what Israel has in mind here," Rabbi Friedman said.

In Cary, Nawaff Said is wondering the same thing.

He's had Al Jazeera --English version of the Arabic-language news network-- on for hours at a time, watching news coverage of the deadly air strikes.

"It's just going to ruin a lot of people's life, and if they had any hope for peace, it's going to probably evaporate," Said said.

Said is Palestinian. His family is in the West Bank and he has close friends in Gaza. Said says he hasn't been able to get a hold of them.

He believes the current violence is motivated by Israeli politics --the country's election is in February.

"Everybody's now in the political season and everybody wants to show that they're tougher than the next person," Said said.

Both men say the long-term resolution to this longstanding conflict must be a peaceful one.

"Both Hamas and Israel need to go back to the table and negotiate an extension to the ceasefire that fell apart just this past week," Rabbi Friedman said.

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