Fresno leaders speak out on Israel-Hamas conflict

Vince Ybarra Image
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Over the weekend, Palestinian group Hamas made a surprise attack on the city of Gaza.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Over the weekend, Palestinian group Hamas made a surprise attack on Israel.

"This is just an outlier and an ugly incident and a terrible, terrible set of circumstances," said retired Fresno State Professor Jacques Benninga.

He hasn't been able to sleep since hearing of the attack on Saturday.

"We've been watching the news, trying to read about what's going on, and calling family. I have a lot of family in Israel," said Benninga.

He has two nieces who are in the Israeli army and a nephew who was recently called to serve. Other family members are living at home in fear.

He said they are alerted every time there is a possible attack, and they have to run to the bomb shelter within their apartment building.

"Streets are empty. Everything basically closed. Schools are closed. Grocery stores are open. It's just eerie in the cities," said Benninga.

He believes the attack was fueled by the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, but another local leader and activist has a different opinion.

"Whenever we think about what is happening. We're thinking about people with their backs against the wall. People are living in inhumane conditions. People who are stripped of the very right of basic liberation" said Nekumanesh.

A video from 2021 shows local Muslim leader and activist Hajj Reza Nekumanesh protesting for peace in Palestine. He has a long history of protesting for the well-being of Palestinian people.

Nekumanesh said there is a major imbalance of power in Israel and believes that Palestinian people have been oppressed for decades.

"Without defending what they have done. I think it's more important to think about the root cause of the expression and explosion of violence. So, that way, we can work towards a true and lasting peace," said Nekumanesh.

Cornerstone Church will conduct a Stand with Israel Prayer Rally on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Historic Wilson Theater on Fulton Street.

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