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Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - Violence overseas is resonating with local groups supporting Israelis and Palestinians.

Friday night, hundreds of people used an iconic piece of New Orleans culture to draw attention to a conflict that's killed more than a thousand people.

Those who support Palestine dressed in black and gathered at Carrollton and Canal. They filled the streetcar, heading toward the French Quarter, where they planned to light candles and march to Mona's on Frenchmen Street.

They remembered the lives lost in Gaza and called for peace.

So far, more than 1,500 Palestinians have died in Gaza since the fighting erupted July 8th, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.

Louisianans like Leila Ahmad are worried about family in the region.

'My grandparents are from Palestine, my family lives there, I visit every summer, it's kind of touching to hear what's happening,' said Ahmad. 'It just makes me worried about everything that's happening, you don't know if the soldiers will go over [to my family's town], you don't know where they'll go next.'

Those like Michael Weil are also keeping a close eye on the conflict. He's executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. His four children and nine grandchildren live in Israel. And one son is a solider with the Israel Defense Forces.

So far, Israel has lost at least 63 soldiers, according to Israel's military.

'Life is kind of going on, but people are very jittery, nervous. Everybody is really concerned we're glued to the phone and email and text and everything else,' Weil said.

'I as a father, I worry about my son, I worry about my immediate family, my children, my grandchildren,' he said. 'On the other hand, there is a serious threat going on, and it is intolerable that you have your neighbor which is a quasi independent country, is raining rockets on you.'

The New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee says they will continue to gather in the future to show support for Palestine and protest the lives lost.

'We want people to know there are people dying everyday,' said Tabitha Mustafa, who helped organize the peaceful protest. 'This is just the beginning of the movement.'

The Jewish community earlier this week held an event called 'Music Over Sirens.' It helped raise money to provide humanitarian aid to Israel and support a small Israeli farming community near Gaza that has seen the devastating effects of the fighting.

'On one hand we feel like we're a world away, and on the other hand we feel like it's our brothers and sisters on both sides who are suffering,'said Rabbi Alexis Berk, the head of one of the country's oldest Jewish congregations, Touro Synagogue in New Orleans.

The extent of bloodshed is both heartbreaking and contentious for both sides.

Those who support Palestine say, Israel is senselessly killing innocent women and children in schools and hospitals.

Those who support Israel say, they're forced to target those places because that's where Hamas is hiding the rockets the group is firing at Israel.

But both sides locally agree on one thing. Ultimately, they say, they just want peace.

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