URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — University of Illinois freshman Ethan Comrov said the last 48 hours have been nothing short of emotional while watching the Israel-Palestinian conflict break out overseas. His friends and family are in the crossfire.
“‘This isn’t happening,'” he thought. “We stayed up until 11 in the morning just in disbelief.”
On Saturday morning, Hamas attacked Israel killing hundreds. Now, Israel is fighting back, and the death toll is rising into the thousands.
Students and leaders prayed for peace on the U of I campus Monday, standing tall to support one another.
“My friend, his family live right there in the town,” Comrov said. “You see terrorists outside of their houses with guns on trucks just going around shooting, massacring civilians.”
Comrov couldn’t believe the news he was hearing in Israel.
“The past 48 hours, the past couple of days have just been like in disbelief,” he added. “Trying to contact, make sure our relatives, our friends are okay.”
Hundreds of people have died since the Saturday morning attack, which happened the same day as Sukkot, a Jewish holiday.
“We have not seen such since the Holocaust,” Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel said. “Students are feeling shocked. Students are feeling sad. Students have relatives that were killed.”
Tiechtel is Illini Chabad’s executive director. He knows people with all different backgrounds are shaken and sad. He wants to help where he can.
“You are never alone. We are going to come together,” he added. “We are going to unite to realize no one’s alone. We’re in this together. We are one big community.”
That’s exactly what happened on U of I’s quad Monday afternoon. Comrov said this was the type of gathering he needed.
“It’s not only Jews. You have people who support us, people who want to know more about it,” Comrov said. “To me, that just means the world. It means the world to people back home too.”
Hank Mitchell, another U of I student, is standing tall with his friends.
“I’m not Jewish, but it’s still a big responsibility for me because I have friends,” Mitchell said. “It’s a humanity issue. It’s not just a Jewish issue.”
Mitchell said a conflict like this shouldn’t have happened to begin with, and Tiechtel hopes it ends soon.
“We hope and we pray for all people,” Tiechtel said. “We feel bad for any loss, any death anywhere. War is so not necessary.”
So, he’s encouraging everyone to take action by simply adding an act of kindness to their day. Tiechtel feels the best response to darkness is light.
Many of his students have started fundraising efforts. As WCIA learns more about the steps to donate, we will add links to this article.