EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Pasoans gathered at Temple Mt. Sinai on Monday, Oct. 9 in solidarity with Israel after this weekend’s attacks by Hamas.
The Jewish Federation of El Paso and Las Cruces announced a “Community Gathering in Solidarity of Israel” for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, at Temple Mount Sinai, 4408 N. Stanton.
In a statement on Monday President Joe Biden said at least 11 Americans have been killed in the attacks.
Photos by Shelby Kapp/KTSM
“As we continue to account for the horrors of the appalling terrorist assault against Israel this weekend and the hundreds of innocent civilians who were murdered, we are seeing the immense scale and reach of this tragedy. Sadly, we now know that at least 11 American citizens were among those killed — many of whom made a second home in Israel,” said the statement from Biden.
“I know a lot of people in Israel people from my unit, family friends from back in Jersey and El Pasoans who are serving in the Israeli army now,” said El Pasoan Joshua Swartz.
Swartz shared with KTSM a picture of himself in an Israeli military uniform in 1994.
“I completed a basic training program in the Israeli army but didn’t do active duty so I feel like we belong in our homeland and we can do what we can from afar but it’s not the same as being there,” said Swartz.
He says he continues to stay in contact with his friends in Israel.
“I have been in touch with people in Israel. Certain parts of Israel, of course, are under heavier fire than others. Yesterday I spoke to somebody who is in southern Jerusalem who says they are safe for the time being,” said Swartz.
The El Paso Jewish community came together, and others wanted to show their support too.
“We’re not Jewish but we have a lot of friends that are,” said El Pasoan Tom Carey.
“Human beings are human beings. We just should have compassion for each other,” said Cynthia Carey.
“I’m outraged. It’s just terrible. We can never get any peace,” said El Pasoan Bernadette Banda-Cole as she wore the Star of David around her neck.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) El Paso, which fights anti-semitism, spoke with KTSM about El Paso’s ties to Israel.
“I can tell you that I know of families that have immigrated to Israel from El Paso. I have family that immigrated to Israel as well and it’s a concern,” said Peter Svarzbein, the El Paso community engagement manager for ADL.
Svarzbein added that the ADL is monitoring the situation in El Paso and elsewhere.
“We have seen a pattern, where there’s violence and other conflict in Israel, it leads towards real world violence against Jewish groups and Jewish places across the world,” Svarzbein said.
Speakers at the gathering at Temple Mt. Sinai on Monday in El Paso included El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser and U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas.
“I am horrified by the terrorist attack against Israel and condemn Hamas’ violence in the strongest possible terms. My thoughts are with the victims whose lives were tragically and unnecessarily cut short today, their families, and the Israeli and Palestinian civilians impacted,” said Escobar said on “X,” formally known as Twitter.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all flags across Texas be lowered to half-staff for Israel.
“In honor of those killed in the heinous acts of war against Israel, I have ordered Texas flags lowered to half-staff across the state. Texas mourns the innocent lives lost — including American citizens,” Abbott said on X.