Los Angeles officials took their cue from big-name entertainers to address the conflict in Gaza, now in the second day of a 72-hour truce. Prior to the event at LA City Hall, a string of top Hollywood stars took to media platforms to weigh in on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.
Joan Rivers famously compared the situation to New Jersey firing rockets or tunneling into New York City. Oscar winners Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem signed an open letter bashing Israel’s policies in Gaza, prompting an article by actor Jon Voight which tore their letter apart. From Rihanna’s ‘Free Palestine’ tweet, to Selena Gomez’s ‘Pray for Gaza’ post, to Madonna’s repeated calls for a cease-fire, Gaza was the buzz among the stars.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and city council members joined the debate on Tuesday night, holding a ceremony supporting the Jewish State. Dubbed “City Leaders Stand with Israel for Peace,” they held a moment of silence to commemorate the many lives lost during the conflict.
In 28 days of fighting, 64 IDF soldiers were killed as well as three Israeli civilians; the Palestinian death toll stands at 1,867.
“We must also of course, pause…and say that the loss of civilian life is something that is heartbreaking for all of us,” Garcetti said at the event. “To see the lives that have been lost, it has hit home here.”
That was a reference to Los Angeles-born Sgt. Max Steinberg, a soldier who was killed when an anti-tank missile hit his vehicle in Gaza City two weeks ago.
“We’ve seen Palestinians, innocent civilians who have lost their lives as well,” the mayor continued. “This is one of the most painful images to see and one of the most painful moments in the history of the recent Middle East.”
Nevertheless, he backed Israel’s “right to meet its obligation to protect its citizens” and called for a lasting cease-fire.
Speaking at the ceremony, Israel’s LA Consul General, David Siegel, lambasted Hamas for showering rockets on Israel’s civilian population and demanded that the group disarm and abandon terrorism. He thanked participants for “standing with Israel and supporting us as we strive for peace.”
A recording of an air-raid siren blared through City Hall, demonstrating the plight of Israelis in areas targeted by Gaza rockets.
Council member Bob Blumenfield, who organized the event, said it was not aimed at Palestinians residents of Gaza who “have suffered needlessly in this conflict” but rather at the Hamas regime which terrorizes Israelis “from the skies, and now, from beneath the ground.”
Blumenfield blasted the terror group for seeking the destruction of Israel instead of cooperating on a peace agreement. He said it’s time to change priorities and give peace a chance: “We are sending a message to Hamas, to Hezbollah and to millions of Israelis who yearn for peace. It says a great deal that a coalition of members of diverse backgrounds are standing here together with Israel, for peace.”