LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan State University has a large international student presence and the war in the Gaza Strip is hitting some of those students hard.
“Watching all the videos of the bloodshed where I once stood, it’s hard to fathom,” says Liam Peleg. He’s Israeli and studying at MSU. He just returned to Michigan from a trip to Israel.
He says he woke to the news his home country had been attacked and bombed by terrorists Saturday morning.
“Kicking down doors, shooting whomever they see,” he says of the video from Israel.
“Children, mothers, elderly. It’s unexcusable.”
He says watching the carnage and death in areas where his family resides has broken him.
“I instantly called all my family members,” he tells 6 News. “Making sure they’re OK. Everybody’s shaken.”
Israeli officials say the unexpected attack by Hamas has left at least 900 people dead in Israel.
While the attack has been carried out by Hamas, a political and terror organization supported by Iran, Peleg says he knows there is a difference.
“Hamas and the Palestinian people, I believe, are separate entities,” he says.
Omar Mahmoud is half Palestinian. He agrees that Hamas and the Palestinian people are different entities.
But there is also a concern about the way Israel – particularly the Israeli government – deals with the Palestinians in the occupied territories.
“It’s important to know how Israel has been controlling all the essentials like water, food, and goods for the Palestinian people,” Mahmoud says.
On Monday, Israel announced it had halted deliveries of food, water, fuel and other supplies to the estimated 2.3 million people in the Gaza Strip. That type of action, Mahmoud says, leads to Palestinian push back.
“If someone were to come into your home, and were to threaten your family, your children – how would you feel that you would react?” he asks. “Perhaps you would maybe fight back, and that’s kind of the situation here in Palestine. As we’ve been living there for centuries now, my grandfather being kicked out in 1947 from his home, and people being slowly kicked out of their houses by force.”
While both students have different heritages, they agree the war needs to end.
“A lot of it is just like retaliation to protect themselves and to fight back from Israeli oppression,” says Mahmoud.
Peleg says Israelis are fighting “like hell to protect their own. I have no doubt in that.”
On Thursday, MSU group ‘Students United for Justice in Palestine’ will rally at the state capitol in Lansing at 5 p.m. They will stand for the innocence of Israel and Palestine who have been harmed or killed in retaliation and blamed for Hamas’ attacks on Saturday.