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Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEW ORLEANS -- With tensions flaring between Israel and Hamas recently, the situation is hitting home for some New Orleanians.

Over the weekend, groups supporting Palestine and Israel held separate gatherings to speak out about the conflict, and their hopes for peace.

Sunday, several area Jewish groups came together in support of Israel.

Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans Executive Director Michael Weil, who has loved ones living in Israel, is watching the situation closely.

'When something happens in Israel, it's such a small country, everybody feels it, and everybody's nervous,' Weil said.

Weil said the current truce between Israel and Hamas is a start, but many challenges remain.

'There is a cease fire in place, and at the moment, there aren't many shots being fired, but it's not over. The pistols are on the table. They're just not in anybody's hands, they're sitting on the table,' he said.

At a downtown rally, Saturday, members of the local Arab community met to show solidarity for the Palestinians.

Ayman Nawash voiced concerns for his grandparents' safety.

'Where they live is on the West Bank, the safer side I guess, but at any point, there is no such thing as safe side, because at any point, anything can click,' he said.

Nawash and others at the rally talked about the conflict's impact on the Palestinians.

'They can't go to work. They can't go to school. They can't move around,' said Dr. Iwan Nawash. 'So, everything is shut down in the area, but thankfully my family and friends back home are safe right now.'

Opinions over the conflict, not surprisingly, were very different between the two gatherings.

But people at both events share a desire for a future in the Middle East that is free of violence.

'I think our hope is a hope for peace, that we will not be congratulating everybody about a cease-fire, but will be congratulating about the ability to sit down and have real peace talks,' Weil said.

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