Thousands gather on Boston Common in show of support for Israel amid war with Hamas

BOSTON — Several thousand Boston-area Jews, Israeli-Americans, and supporters crowded the common to show support for Israel two days after Hamas launched its surprise attack from Gaza.

Thousands stood on the grass on Monday afternoon around the Parkman Bandstand and carried the white and blue flag of Israel.

Gov. Maura Healey, Sen. Ed Markey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu were among those leading the rally, which was organized by groups including Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Israeli American Council of New England and Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston.

Rabbi Mark Baker, the president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, said his 19-year-old daughter is studying in Israel and when he got her on the phone, she told him she spent the night in and out of a bomb shelter.

“Shock, devastation, sadness, fear. And just the desire to know that your family is going to be okay,” he said.

When Baker asked his daughter if she wanted to come home she told him no and said, “Dad, where can my Israeli friends go?”

The Israeli-American community in Boston feel split in two. “Our hearts are in both places. I feel torn,” said Nir Casti who was born and raised in Israel.

He says his parents and siblings are safe there – but the military veteran lost several friends in combat.

“It’s the first time that I’m losing so many people while I’m here. While I’m not part of the fight, not part of what’s going on there. And that’s what makes it even tougher,” said Casti.

Senator Warren said during the rally that she stands solidly with Israel and said it’s time for Republicans to stop blocking appointments, including that of a new ambassador to Israel and several hundred military leaders.

“There is no justification for terrorism, ever,” Warren said. ”I am here to grieve with you.”

The death toll only continues to rise as 1,550 innocent people are dead and thousands more are wounded. At least 11 Americans are among those killed, officials said on Monday.

Healey said that the ties between Israel and Massachusetts are strong.

“We will be here for you as you have always been for us,” she said. “You will never be alone in Massachusetts.”

Combined Jewish Philanthropies said it has raised more than $1 million in support of Israel over the last 48 hours.

The Palestinian Youth Movement also hosted a rally on Monday afternoon outside Cambridge City Hall where hundreds of community members showed up.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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