East Tennesseans concerned about Middle East

The unrest in the Middle East is leaving many here in Knoxville worried about friends and family. 7-9-14

(WBIR- Knoxville) Israeli militants continue rocket attacks deep into Israeli territory, leaving many here in Knoxville worried about friends and family in the Middle East.

Israel has thousands of troops along the Gaza border, preparing for a possible ground attack. The two-day assaults have killed at least 60 Palestinians.

The Knoxville Jewish Alliance has an exchange program, sending youth, teachers, and medics to their sister city Hadera.

"It gives many people here a feeling of angst, especially those of us who do have these relationships that we've developed through the partnership," said Jeff Gubitz, executive director of the Knoxville Jewish Alliance.

Gubitz said 2012 was the last time a group from Knoxville went to Hadera. He said a rocket recently hit very close to the city where many of his close friends live.

"It's very frustrating to sit here and know or not know what's happening to friends and family that are over there," he said.

Gubitz said he has been in contact with the people he knows in Israel via email and Facebook since the rocket attacks started.

"We all have connections and as do folks of Palestinian descent that live here," he said. "They have connections as well over in Israel and in the west bank, and so we're all very very concerned for our friends and families that are there."

Amira Sakalla, president and founder of Students for Justice in Palestine, said she is worried about her grandmother, cousins, and other family members that live close to where the attacks have occurred.

"A bomb far away from them is like really nothing. It's probably the distance from my house to West Town Mall."

She said she has been keeping up with the attacks via the Internet and checking hashtags on Twitter.

"Every morning I've just woken up and looked at Twitter and seen the updates," she said. "First thing in the morning that's what I see, and that's the last thing I see before I go to bed."

She said she still waits for the phone calls and email updates from her loved ones to make sure they're alright.

"It's really hard to hear their news, but it's something that we have to keep in touch because we don't know the last time we'll be able to say anything to them," Sakalla said.

Arab nations are calling for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Palestinian leaders want the council to adopt a presidential statement or resolution to protect the Palestinian people and hold those responsible for the attacks accountable.


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