Photos: Hundreds of Tucsonans pray for victims of violence in Israel

Nearly 1,000 people filled the sculpture garden at the Tucson Jewish Community Center on Monday night to show solidarity for Israel after the country endured a series of attacks over the weekend.

The event was organized by the Weintraub Israel Center, a joint initiative of Jewish Philanthropies of
Southern Arizona and the Tucson JCC. 

“We will share messages of hope,
resilience, and perseverance during these trying times,” wrote JCC officials. “Our hearts are shattered. Now, more than ever, it is critical we come together to publicly display our support of Israel and our friends and family who have loved ones directly impacted by Operation Swords of Iron.”

Operation Swords of Iron is the name given to Israel’s military operations against Hamas’ attack, which was launched on Saturday, during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas dubbed the attacks—which included attacks by land, sea and air—Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.

As many as 900 Israelis have been killed, and an estimated 2,000 people wounded Another 150 Israelis were taken hostage by Hamas, the New York Times reported. Palestinian officials said 687 people were killed by retaliatory strikes, and Israel’s military said they killed at least 1,500 Palestinian fighters, Reuters reported.

President Joe Biden said Monday at least 11 U.S. citizens were killed, and U.S. officials said they did not know if American citizens were taken hostage.

“The situation is dire,” said the JCC.

Jeff Artzi, the board president for the Weintraub Israel Center and Abbii Cook, the director Weintraub Israel Center, made opening remarks and were followed by several rabbis, as well as religious leaders from the Catholic and Mormon churches. Johanna Shlomovich, the head of the Tucson Hebrew Academy read a lullaby called the Last War, focused on the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero delivered a prayer for the state of Israel. 

Also in attendance were former state lawmaker and congressional primary candidate Daniel Hernandez with his sister state Rep. Consuelo Hernandez. A staff member from U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani’s office read a statement.

Toward the end, students from the Tucson Hebrew Academy sang Hatikvah—Israel’s national anthem. The event closed with the song “Yihiyeh Tov” or Everything will be Okay, played by Rami Yadid.