Oct 11, 2023 - News

Hamas-Israel war sends ripples of pain and fear across Colorado

Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza yesterday. Photo: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images

More than 1,200 Israelis and 1,100 Palestinians have been killed and thousands of others have been displaced from fighting after Hamas launched attacks in cities across Israel last weekend.

What's happening: Across the Denver metro, communities are reacting with mourning, prayer and solidarity, as well as fears for their family and loved ones caught in the conflict.

What they're saying: Shortly after Saturday's attack, a group of people in support of Palestinians rallied at the Colorado State Capitol to "give a different perspective on the issue, since everyone else seems to be framing it in the way that this all happened in a vacuum, and Palestinians are horrible people who just want violence. That's not true," Abdullah Elagha, an organizer for the Colorado Palestine Coalition, told CPR.

  • "The barbaric, horrible attack by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has simply been devastating for us," Scott Levin, the Mountain States regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, said to a crowd of roughly 2,000 people at Temple Emanuel in Denver on Monday.

Threat level: Some Coloradans in Israel and Gaza have struggled to escape, and many of their family members are reaching out to the state's congressional offices for help.

  • Barbara Zind, a pediatrician in Grand Junction, remained stuck in Gaza as of Wednesday after traveling there on a medical mission.
  • Denver resident Barry Curtiss-Lusher, a former national chair for the Anti-Defamation League, tells Axios he woke up in Israel on Saturday — his 72nd birthday — to the sounds of sirens and explosions. After two "harrowing" days, he managed to escape to Greece on a plane.

Between the lines: Several top leaders, including Gov. Jared Polis and Colorado's congressional delegation, have condemned the Hamas attack and expressed support for Israel.

Yes, but: The war is splitting some state lawmakers. Newly sworn-in Rep. Tim Hernández (D-Denver) was criticized this week in a joint statement from Colorado House Speaker Julie McCluskie and House Majority Leader Monica Duran after he attended a rally organized by the Colorado Palestine Coalition over the weekend and did not "explicitly condemn" the attacks.

  • Hernández has defended his actions in a statement, saying he "did not speak or attend the rally in support of Hamas," but rather went to "listen to the experiences of all impacted community members to offer healing, space, and support."

Of note: Denver police tell Axios they are providing extra patrols around synagogues and mosques and have been in contact with representatives from the Jewish community in case safety concerns arise.

What's next: More vigils and rallies in support of Israelis and Palestinians are planned across the metro in the coming days.

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