FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – While the violence in Gaza may be thousands of miles away, it still hits close to home for some folks across Indiana. A Fort Wayne Jewish congregation and a Christian ministry in Indianapolis have friends and family currently in Israel.
It’s an important trip for 20 Catholics from around the state traveling to the Holy Land with Tekton Ministries. They were the second-to-last American flight to land in Tel Aviv Monday before flight restrictions.
But while fighting may be going on near Gaza, so far their trip has been peaceful. They visited the Sea of Galilee Thursday.
“They’re just enjoying it. They have no idea based on where they are that anything is happening 70 miles away,” said Richard Sontag, Tekton Ministries pilgrimage director. “But for the people at home…they’re more concerned and worried about them.”
It’s been a different story for some connected to the Jewish congregation in Fort Wayne. Rabbi Javier Cattapan with Congregation Achduth Vesholom said an Israeli man recently visited his mother in Fort Wayne. The man showed his mother an app that was constantly sending out alerts of Hamas rocket fire.
Rabbi Cattapan said another 13-year-old girl from Huntington is visiting her parents in Israel right now.
“She’s there in Israel visiting her family. She’s moving from one place to the other to see if she can be farther away from the missiles that are falling so she can be safer,” Rabbi Cattapan said. “I think it’s very frustrating for us and for the people who live there to live under those conditions.”
J. Tamir Rasheed, president of the Islamic Center of Fort Wayne, gave a different perspective to the violence.
“When we look at the Palestinian people, they are a people who have been oppressed. And when people find themselves in an oppressed situation they do whatever they can do to bring themselves out of that situation,” Rasheed said. “It’s not to say that killing on either side is right. Again, if you take the life of one innocent person it is as though you have taken the life of the whole of humanity. But I think we have to put everything in this perspective. And in order to do that we have to take a historical look.”
Like many, Rasheed prays for peace between Hamas and Israel.
“All we can do on this side of the water is to make prayer that the situation would ease and that the taking of lives of innocent people will stop,” he said.
Jewish leaders in Fort Wayne are teaming up with others for a rally in Indianapolis on Sunday to show support for Israel.