From thousands of miles away, Jeanine Khdeir is in Tampa and concerned about her family in Palestine as she watches the Israel-Gaza conflict escalate. Khdeir works with USF’s Students for Justice in Palestine.
“I really feel powerless. All I can do its text my cousins and ask them how are things going and watching from behind the computer screen,” said Khdeir.
“It’s pretty bad, you know. They can’t leave their homes and you know one of my cousins in dorming at her school, so she can’t go back home, she’s kind of stuck there.”
On Sunday Israeli forces dropped leaflets on Northern Gaza, warning people to leave their homes to avoid more attacks.
Palestinian officials say Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 160 people, most of them civilians.
The Israeli military said Hamas militants have fired more than 800 rockets into Israel in the past few days. Some have been intercepted, including two over the Tel-Aviv area Sunday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country is prepared to continue the operation. He holds Hamas responsible for civilian casualties in Gaza.
“The rockets are firing from homes," Netanyahu said. "These homes are actually command post of the Hamas and Islamic jihad army. That’s where they have their secure communications, weapon caches, rockets hidden, map rooms and so on. These are their command post.
"Obviously we are not going to give them immunity, so we have to attack them and we have to minimize it as we can.”
Khdeir sees little hope.
“It sinks my heart, because it’s like we never know what to expect," Khdeir said. "You don’t know when they’re going to strike. You don’t know when you’re in danger.”
“We know that the only thing America can do is stop sending their tax dollars -- our tax dollars -- to aide Israel, and that’s what we want to see happen here.”
Kdheir’s cousin, Tariq Abu Khdeir, is the Tampa teenager who was beaten, arrested and now serving a nine-day house arrest in Israel. He is expected to return to Tampa later this month.