Fallout from Gaza - Brooklynites react to violence

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One is a Palestinian-American from Bay Ridge and the other is an Israeli-American from Flatbush, but the two people share a very real concern over the latest Middle Eastern conflict going on in the 26-by-6 mile piece of land on the Mediterranean coast known as the Gaza strip.

For Mohamed Khas, who owns an apparel shop on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge, the main concern is over his American citizen mother, along with his brother and sister-in-law, who are stranded in Gaza City as Israeli and Hamas fighters battle.

“We’ve been in contact with the U.S. Consulate and can’t do anything,” said Khas, from behind the counter of his shop with his eyes occasionally glued to Arabic television stations. “They told us to take safe ground. We said, ‘what is safe ground?’ We’ve had no contact with them for a while. There is no light, no water, no food, no gas. Just human suffering.”

Khas, who has been in America for over 30 years and has several American-born children, said the last time he spoke with his family in Gaza City, they informed him they got a call from the Israeli military and that they had five minutes to evacuate their house. They are now staying at another house two doors down, he said.

“It’s terrible. Nobody [here] is doing nothing. Most of the people don’t see what we see,” he said, motioning to the Arabic channel. “There is nothing but little kids dying. Innocent people are paying the price. They [Israel] are hitting schools, mosques and hospitals. Even our house is shattered. They [Israel and Hamas] should go to a football field and battle it out themselves.”

Khas also alleged that the mainstream media in America is slanted strongly toward the Israeli side.

“People should watch the Arabic channels to be fair,” he said. “Israel is not the top of the world. Jewish people control the media.”

Flatbush resident Chana Braun, 57, agrees that what is happening in Gaza is a tragedy, but views the conflict differently. She has a son, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren living in Netivot, about eight miles from the Gaza border. It is an area of Israel that has seen a constant barrage of Hamas rockets in the last few years.

“After the [Hamas-Israeli] treaty was signed, they still sent rockets, but not as many,” said Braun, who also has several cousins now fighting in Gaza. “It’s impossible that the state of Israel did not protect its civilians for such a long time. This action is a necessary. No matter which side, it’s a very painful thing to see civilians hurt. Hamas is disturbing it on both sides. My grandchildren are frightened to death.”

Braun said that Hamas is “an unpredictable and vicious organization” that doesn’t want to make peace with Israel.

“Fatah [the Palestinian organization controlling the West Bank] wants to make peace, but Hamas and Hezbollah are one and the same, and they are helping them with weapons and training,” she said.

Braun believes that not all the civilian women and children in Gaza are innocent, and that since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, the strip has become more armed with sophisticated weapons.

“Some [Gaza citizens] are very nice, but there is no good or bad, or right or wrong in war. I don’t say all Arabs should leave, but Israel was very late to react. Since Israel left [Gaza], Hamas took over and they trained their people and built an army. I’m very upset. The best thing I wish for everybody is that there be peace,” she said.

In regard to the Jews controlling the media, Braun said in Israel CNN is sometimes referred to as the “Central Nazi News,” and said that much of the international media is controlled by Arab money.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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