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War erupts in Israel and death toll rises, Billings reverend urges kindness

War erupts in Israel and death toll rises, Billings reverend urges kindness
Posted at 6:13 PM, Oct 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-08 20:13:14-04

BILLINGS — A surprise attack on Israel from Hamas militants on Saturday has left hundreds dead and even more injured, resulting in the deadliest day of violence in the country in over 50 years.

“What has transpired people refer to it at Israel’s 9/11,” said Rev. Dwight Welch, minister for MSU-Billings United Campus Ministry. “Gaza hasn’t had an election since 2006. So, this is really just a pre-formed terror group that was never elected, or chosen, or reflective of the people of Gaza. So, that also adds to the tragic element.”

Welch works with many foreign exchange students and hopes they are not targeted because of the incidents overseas.

“I’ve noticed that Muslim and Jewish students and folks in the community can often bear the brunt of what happens over there. It’s just crazy,” Welch said. “Some may know folks in that region, and have family who are impacted, and so as a community I feel like what we want to do is avoid anything that would be used to target or make them feel not welcome and safe. And also, to express some solidarity.”

As the death toll continues to rise, the U.S. Government is working to verify reports of Americans being among the dead.

“If we were to do a scale to the U.S., it would be like losing 20,000 Americans in one day. So, it’s a shock on that level. It’s a shock to Israel. It should be a shock to the world,” Welch said.