ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The local head of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis is sounding off on increasing hostilities in the Gaza Strip.

The President and CEO of the Jewish Federation, Andrew Rehfeld, said his organization doesn’t take political positions but recognizes the incredible suffering and hardships that the fighting is causing on both sides.

“The damage that the missiles have been doing, to begin with, in the south of Israel, hundreds of rockets that have been threatening the lives of people, having to live under the sheer terror of them coming in and obviously the damage that comes when a country that has the right to defend itself strikes back, it’s tragic,” Rehfeld said.

“My hope is that it stops as quickly as possible, that Hamas ceases the kind of campaign that began all of this and that will allow Israel to stop its self-defense, obviously I think that’s anybody’s hope, that they can continue in peace.”

The comments by Rehfeld mirror a statement the Federation released over the weekend, saying the organization stands with the people of Israel, and that there is no justification for the violence being perpetrated by Hamas and other terrorist organizations. The group said it is in full agreement with the U.S. State Department’s position and is calling on those responsible for the violence against Israel to stop the “cowardly acts immediately.”

Over the weekend, Jewish-American and St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee member Anna Baltzer said Gazans are being denied their basic human rights simply because of their religion and ethnicity.

“These are the kinds of things we speak out against and I’m proud to do so as a Jewish person,” Baltzer said.

“As a Jew in St. Louis, a live a life of relative luxury and Israel would actually pay me to go live on that land simply because I am Jewish while the people in Gaza, who are essentially in an open-air prison, are denied their basic rights and are being bombed,” she added.

While Israel and Hamas are far apart in their demands, both sides says they were open to a diplomatic solution but prepared for further escalation if that failed.


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