TULSA, Okla. — Many in Green Country have ties to Israel and have shared their pain after the massacres by Hamas that opened the present fighting.
On Tuesday, 2 News heard from Muslim leaders and advocates also in Oklahoma who feel the killing is unnecessary and lawless on both sides. They say Oklahomans should appeal for peace for the sake of those caught in the middle.
United Nations Human Rights Office of The High Commissioner reports as of Oct. 17, more than 1,900 Palestinians have been killed in the recent conflict, including at least 600 children, more than 7,600 injured, and over 423,000 people displaced as a result of Israeli strikes.
At the same time, more than 1,400 Israelis have been killed, according to NBC.
For those like Oklahoma City-based Imam Imad Enchassi, the war is a pain that transcends blood.
“My grandfather and my father walked the Palestinian Trail of Tears from Palestine to Lebanon, so I grew up in a refugee camp in Lebanon. And I survived the massacre that happened in Lebanon in 1982,” Imam Enchassi said.
During 2 News’ conversation via Zoom, Enchassi learned of Tuesday’s bombing of a Gaza hospital close to where he says his own family members live. He continued speaking, choking up midway through.
“It’s a complete massacre,” Enchassi said, blaming the Israeli regime. “This is a genocide against innocent people. We (Muslims) abhor violence. We abhor the killing of innocent people.”
The reality many Palestinians face strikes a chord with Pawnee County resident Jannah Deen, who helped organize a Free Palestine demonstration in Tulsa Sunday.
“I’m Native American. I totally get it because my people’s land was stolen,” Deen said. “We were locked on reservations and had to have a special permit to go and hunt food and feed our families. (Palestinians are) being treated exactly the way we were treated.”
Adam Soltani from the Council for American Islamic Affairs (CAIR) Oklahoma chapter said its up to the public to pressure lawmakers to help prevent Islamophobic responses to the war here at home.
“It doesn’t help when we see our political leaders, even here in Oklahoma, so strongly support the actions of Israel without making mention of the reality that there are Palestinian people here in Oklahoma who are just as impacted by what’s going on,” Soltani said.
Imam Enchassi agrees, and said an ally of the U.S. like Israel should respect values of all affected.
“As human beings, as Oklahomans, as a people of faith, as a people that have a conscience, it is our responsibility to call our elected officials and say, stop this genocide,” Enchassi said.
In 2022 the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures wing officially designated Israel’s occupation of Palestine as apartheid.
Additionally, the U.N. Security Council and general assembly have stated in hundreds of resolutions that Israel’s annexation of occupied territory is “unlawful.”