TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Demonstrations continue to unfold across the country and here in the Tampa Bay area amid the Israel-Hamas war.
On Monday night, the Israeli-American Council hosted a pro-Israel rally in downtown Tampa at Curtis Hixon Park.
Hundreds gathered for the vigil to support Israel in the wake of the attack by the militant group, Hamas.
Those events have sparked the worst conflict the region has seen in half a century.
Israel’s leaders said they are preparing for a ground invasion to wipe out Hamas.
That prompted Jesse Davidson, a USF graduate, to fly from Tampa to Israel to fight back as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces.
“I am so proud of him for having the conviction in this day and age,” said his mother, Lea Merrill Davidson-Bern. “To have a belief and put your life on the line for that belief.”
The Davidson family attended the vigil and are staying strong in his absence.
“For our youngest son, Jesse, to be over there within an hour of being called up,” said Davidson-Bern. “He had a ticket and within 24 hours he was on a flight to join his battalion to be there, to take care, and defend the people of Israel against Hamas.”
“Every single one of my friends has friends that are missing has family that are missing,” said Leigh Gabriely. “My uncle’s wife has four missing nieces and nephews. One was just confirmed dead, and these are brutal deaths.”
This vigil shows times of terror can come with hope amid the unavoidable perils of conflict.
“If he can be strong with what’s he’s doing, then we have to have the strength here,” said Davidson-Bern.