Jewish community concerned about Israel, Gaza conflict
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CAPE CORAL - With food, family and football on the minds of most on Thanksgiving, many in the southwest Florida Jewish community are turning their thoughts to Israel.
"Our thoughts and prayers," said Rabbi Yossi Labkowski, with the Chabad of Cape Coral, "are for the Jews in Israel."
After eight days of relentless fighting, Labkowski hopes a recent Egyptian-brokered cease fire between Israel and Hamas will hold.
"I'm hopeful that the cease fire would work," said Labkowksi. "I'm a little pessimistic. But I hope so."
The truce comes after fierce fighting sparked by renewed rocket fire from Gaza, which prompted Israel to unleash 1500 air strikes against Hamas targets.
The cease fire ends the worst fighting in the region since an Israeli invasion of Gaza four years ago.
Five Israelis and more than 150 Palestinians were killed in the conflict.
"It's scary," said Labkowski. "Yesterday there was a bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv. It's scary to go on a bus."
For Labkowski, the fighting hits close to home. His brother, uncle and cousins all live in Israel.
"Under the circumstances," said Labkowski, "they're doing well.'
On this Thanksgiving, his thoughts are half the world away.
"I don't think people could even understand," said Labkowski, "what they're going through."
Up until the cease fire, he says life for his family was shrouded in fear.
"When the alarm goes off you have 15 seconds to run into a shelter which doesn't give you a lot of time," said Labkowski. "It's devastating. And nobody would want to live that life that any given day a rocket could fall on your house or your kid's school."
Labkowski says he's thankful he lives in a free country, and thankful the violence has stopped for now.
He's also hopeful that one day there can be peace.
"We just have to pray," he said.