As the conflict between Israel and Gaza continued to escalate Sunday, members of Brith Sholom Beth Israel Synagogue gathered to pray for Israel and to pray for peace.
"What's happening in Israel we feel very close to," said Rabbi Moshe Davis. "We want to do everything we can for our brothers and sisters in Israel."
More than 60 people gathered Sunday evening at the synagogue in downtown Charleston to pray. A similar prayer rally was held in Columbia on Sunday at the Katie and Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Center. Former Israeli soldier Moshe Katan was among those who attended the service in Charleston, proudly displaying the flag of Israel. Katan, who moved to Charleston from Israel nine years ago, said he came to "say a small prayer supporting the fight for Israel."
"I pray there will be as few casualties as possible and I pray that it will stop quickly for both sides," he said.
Alli Debrow also attended the service to show her passion for Israel and for peace. Debrow said she is frustrated with how Israel is being portrayed in the media when the nation is just protecting its borders.
"We just want peace," Debrow said. "We just want safety for the Jewish people of Israel.
"We don't want war," she said.
The fight between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas began on July 7 with an exchanging of rocket fire after Israeli planes damaged a tunnel dug by Hamas from inside the Gaza Strip. By Thursday the situation shifted to a ground offensive with Israeli forces targeting Hamas in Gaza. As of Sunday more than 430 Palestinians had been killed as well as 20 Israelis including 18 soldiers.
During the service, speakers urged members of the synagogue to support Israel's defense of its borders.
"Israel has no choice but to respond with appropriate force," said Ava Kleinman, chair of the Israel Engagement Committee for the Jewish Federation of Charleston.
"I am hopeful that lessons will be learned and new facts on the ground will help promote peace," Kleinman said.
Davis urged his congregation to say a psalm once a day in honor of those fighting on behalf of the Jewish nation.
"We want peace but we need a partner in peace," Davis said after the service. "We're praying for the best possible outcome."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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