At around 4.30am (British time) on Saturday, October 7, Hamas started ‘Operation Al Aqsa Flood’ raining rockets into Israel, writes Richard Harding.
At the same time around 2,000 terrorists made their way across the border and over 200 Israeli hostages were taken back into Gaza.
At the time of writing more than 1,400 Israelis and more than 5,800 Palestinians had lost their lives.
The ripples of the conflict have been felt around the world including here in the South Hams.
Community Facilitator of the Totnes Jewish Community Marc Franc said: “We have as a community been profoundly affected and utterly heartbroken by the events having taken place in Israel and Gaza over the last two weeks.
“Many of us have friends and family in the region with children who are sheltering in air raid shelters and terrified for their lives.
“One community member had a friend killed last week.
“We are all praying for a peaceful resolution to the resulting conflict as soon as possible and an end to the loss of innocent lives on all sides.”
Marc continued: “With antisemitic attacks up by 350 per cent in the country last week, there is genuine concern that the escalation situation could lead to an overspill of violence and hatred here too.
“Many Jewish friends do have genuine fears for their own safety in the current climate.
“There was a service of unity offered by Exeter Synagogue online last week, and an Interfaith Vigil for Peace at St Mary’s Church which several of us attended.
“Many of our community have also been coming together in small groups at this time to support each other and pray for an end to the conflict.”
Meanwhile, Totnes Friends of Palestine and the Hands Up Project have organised a weekly peace vigil on Thursdays at 5.30pm in the Civic Square in Totnes.
After this evening’s vigil on (Thursday 26), The Hands Up Project, founded by Nick Bilborough, is holding an event at the Mansion in Totnes to celebrate and commemorate the young people from Gaza who have been impacted over the last two weeks, and before that too.
Working with Palestinian children and teachers in classr0oms in Gaza, the Hands Up project supports English language learning through online inter-cultural activities and performing plays online with other children across the world.
The event takes place at the Old School Hall, The Mansion, Fore Street Totnes and free tickets are available on Eventbrite.