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Local Rabbi In Israel Speaks To CBS 3 As Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Continues To Escalate

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(credit: CBS) Pat Ciarrocchi
In addition to anchoring and reporting news for CBS 3, Pat Ciarro...
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By Pat Ciarrocchi

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For Rabbi Neil Cooper and his wife Lori, posing with their children and grandchildren who live in Israel is infrequent and precious.

So when sirens warned of incoming Hamas missiles in the midst of a family dinner out, reality of a far away crisis took a different shape.

“This has become the new normal here. It’s very jarring for Americans,” Rabbi Cooper said.

Rabbi Cooper of Wynnewood’s Temple Beth Hillel Beth El spoke to CBS 3 via Skype from northern Israel.

When the siren sounded, the first the rabbi had ever experienced there, the family was having dinner at a restaurant in Jerusalem.

“When you’re in Jerusalem because the missiles are coming from Gaza, you have about a minute and half they say to get a safe place,” he said. “We were not in a bomb shelter. So we went to the kitchen. That was the most interior room without windows.”

He added, “It’s emotional. One feels extremely vulnerable because you’re running away from a rocket.”

In the last nine days Hamas has launched more than a thousand rockets into Israel.

In retaliation, 150 Israeli rockets have targeted Hamas rocket launchers, strategically embedded by militants in civilian neighborhoods.

The Gazans have seen 200 killed including four boys this week.

“There is no such thing as a moral war,” Marwan Kreidie of the Philadelphia Arab-American Association said.

For Kreidie, finding a path to peace is complicated.

“The problem is, the more they’re attacked by the Israelis, the more they don’t look at Hamas as the enemy. They don’t blame Hamas. They blame the people fighting them,” Kreidie said.

Yaron Sideman is Israel’s Consul General to the mid-Atlanitc states.

“We don’t want the Gazan population to suffer,” Sideman said. “We’re looking to hit those rocket launchers to disable Hamas’ capability and to restore quiet and security. “

Without a cease fire, the crisis continues to escalate.

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