Hikind heads to Israel
Assemblyman says, ‘I want to demonstrate solidarity’
As the conflict between Israel and Hamas continued, despite a cease-fire plan put forth by Egypt, Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind made plans to hop on a plane and travel to the Middle East to stand in solidarity with Israelis.
Hikind (D-Borough Park-Midwood) announced on Sunday that he would leave for Israel on Monday to join with the eight million Israeli citizens under bombardment. The district Hikind represents is the predominantly Jewish.
“I want to give chizuk—give strength—to the people in Eretz Yisroel who are under attack. I want to demonstrate solidarity with my fellow Jews who are suffering through yet another terrible episode of terrorism from Hamas and the other extremist terror organizations who are targeting cities and schools and hospitals with their rockets,” Hikind said in a statement outlining his reasons for going to Israel.
While the damage from Hamas rockets has been minimal so far, that could change, according to Hikind. “But the terror is real and I want to be there to help in any and every way that I can,” he said.
Hikind did not indicate how long his visit would last. The State Assembly is currently not in session.
For the first few days of his visit, Hikind will stay in the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva, where a rocket fired from people in Gaza hit a home on Friday. A woman in her 80s suffered mild injuries and was taken to the Soroka Hospital for treatment. Extensive damage was caused to the building, Hikind said. On Sunday, two people – a 16-year-old and a 50-year-old – were wounded by a rocket explosion in the southern city of Ashkelon.
“I look forward to spending a few days in Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod and visiting the people and leadership there,” Hikind said. “I am hopeful that the terrorist rockets will stop soon and that this will all be over before I arrive, but I am compelled to be with my brothers and sisters right now, where the innocent people of Israel are suffering.”
The exchanges of rockets between Israel and Gaza began after three Israeli teenagers – Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifiah, 19 – were kidnapped and murdered. Israel blamed Hamas, but Hamas denied any involvement with the killings. CNN reported that the boys had been shot to death.
In the wake of that tragedy, a Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khedair, 16, was kidnapped from his East Jerusalem neighborhood. His body was discovered a short time after the abduction. He had been burned to death, CNN reported.
The escalating tensions between Israel and Hamas are the object of concern and not just in Brooklyn’s Jewish and Arabic communities.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the leader of Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, called on both sides to exhibit restraint to prevent the tensions from escalating into all-out war.
“In light of the disturbing military action between Israel and Hamas forces, we advocate for restraint on all sides of this grave conflict. Recognizing Israel’s right to self-defense, we call for moderation for the sake of innocent lives,” DiMarzio said in a statement. “We pray that all participants in this major conflict reach the best possible solution through honest dialogue rather than the use of arms. Knowing the sad events of the deaths of the three Israeli youths and the death of the Palestinian youth, we ask for an end to the fighting, which is only bringing about more killing.”
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