Abdelnasser Rashid

Local elected officials have joined national and international leaders condemning the violence in Israel and Gaza that erupted over the weekend.

State legislators condemned the violence affecting Palestinians and Israelis. Reps. Abdelnasser Rashid (D-Bridgeview) and LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago), and State Sen. Mike Porfirio (D-LaGrange), are among 16 Democratic Illinois state legislators who have signed a letter deploring the violence in Israel and Gaza.

“Hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians have been killed, and thousands injured,” the three-paragraph letter states.

“All loss of human life is tragic. This latest violence shows the urgent need for lasting peace.”

The lawmakers expressed their support for people in Illinois, many of whom are their constituents, “who are watching this situation unfold and experiencing deep pain as they worry for loved ones.”

“We will not be able to achieve peace when millions of Palestinians are denied human rights,” they added.

 Rashid and Porfirio represent large portions of Riverside and Brookfield, while Ford’s district includes parts of North Riverside, Oak Park and Forest Park. Rashid is the first and only Palestinian American member of the General Assembly and spent part of his childhood living on the West Bank. 

Later, Ford expressed his support for the Israeli people, strongly condemning Hamas’ terrorist acts, Capitol Fax reported.  

“Every conversation has a time and place,” Ford said in a statement. “And now, at this time and in this place, we should unequivocally condemn the savage crimes perpetrated against the Israeli people by cowardly Hamas terrorists and express our sorrow for the hundreds of innocents who lost their lives. This monstrous crime has no justification. Period.” 

“I’m absolutely heartbroken by all of the violence,” Rashid told this publication. “I am mourning for the Israeli lives and the Palestinian lives that have been taken over the last few days. There’s never a excuse to target civilians regardless of who the perpetuator is, regardless of who the victims are. It’s never OK to target civilians. It’s a critical moment for all to call for de-escalation and find a path toward a real conversation about what peace looks like so that we don’t continue to see the horrifying violence that we saw this weekend.” 

He added: “This didn’t start on Saturday.” Over 6,400 Palestinians have been killed since 2008 and more than 300 Israelis have been killed over the last 16 years, and we need to have a conversation about what a path to peace looks like so that there is no more bloodshed and so that Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace and safety and security.”

By the afternoon of Oct. 10, the number of lives lost to the conflict had risen above 1,000, the news outlet Al Jazeera reported. On Saturday, Hamas fighters attacked communities in southern Israel, killing about 900 Israelis, most of whom were civilians, and taking hundreds of hostages back to Gaza. Israeli emergency services have found 260 bodies from an Israeli festival held 3.3 miles away from the wall that separates the Gaza border and Israel. Several others remain missing. The surprise Hamas attack on Israel is the deadliest attack in Israeli history.

Israel responded by bombing Gaza killing an estimated 830 residents of Gaza and injuring about 4,500. In addition, 21 people have been killed and 130 injured in the West Bank, Al Jazeera reported. On Monday, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a complete siege of the Gaza strip, a move condemned by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker condemned “the horrifying violence from Hamas” on a statement dated Oct. 10.

“We who believe in peace, freedom, and human rights for Israelis, Palestinians, and all humankind must reject those who use terror to resolve their differences,” Pritzker said on social media platform X.

Neither Illinois State President Don Harmon nor Speaker of the House Chris Welch signed the letter. House Majority Leader Elizabeth (Lisa) Hernandez (D-Cicero), who represents parts of Riverside and Brookfield, also did not sign the letter.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul called on U.S. politicians to “unite as an international community” against terrorism.

“The attacks by Hamas are horrific and indefensible and my thoughts are with the families that are forever traumatized by such attacks,” he said in a statement on social media platform X.

“Israel unquestionably has a right to defend itself from such terrorism. The partisan weaponization of this tragedy by U.S. politicians is shameful. Now is the time for us to unite as an international community against such terrorism.”

The escalating violence in Israel and Gaza has the potential to “escalate dramatically,” bringing suffering and pain to Israeli and Palestinian civilians, international agencies have warned.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said “civilians always pay the highest price in conflict,” in a statement dated Oct. 10.

“At this critical moment, we urge the parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and to take every possible step to prevent civilians from further harm. All sides must exercise restraint and protect civilian lives and property.”