Utah Israel community hosts vigil for victims of Be’eri massacre at state capitol
Oct 15, 2023, 10:10 PM | Updated: 10:30 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — On Sunday night, local Israelis and community members lighted candles in memory of the more than 100 Israeli citizens killed at what is being called Israel’s “ground zero.”
“We just wanted to have a little space together as a community to honor the people who were murdered in our country this week. A hundred of them were buried today in Kibbutz Beeri, which is one of the places that got the most horrific slaughter,” said Yifat Gohar Levenstein of the Jewish Federation of Utah.
The federation passed out flyers stating the names of people who were kidnapped and kept hostage by the Hamas militants.
The group said they wanted to humanize this war and want the public to know the names of those who were captured.
“We want to raise awareness of the hostages that are still kept hostage, the women and children and elderly,” Levenstein said.
Utahn Palestinians respond
Across the street, there were Palestinians who said they felt compelled to attend the vigil after seeing the Utah capitol lit up in blue and white.
“We came here to represent the voice that doesn’t exist in this narrative to represent lives. People are dying, they have no one to talk to, they have gatherings that are not on that scale, and their life is not as appreciated,” said Omar Ayman, a Free Palestine supporter.
Ayman said his group wants to stop the genocide in Gaza and give a voice to those civilians who have been left with nothing.
“You would never see this for Palestinians, so the least we can do is show up and give these people a voice. I didn’t even know that was happening,” he said.
On Oct. 7, the Hamas militant group launched an attack on Israel by firing thousands of rockets and deploying troops.
Hamas military commander Muhammad Al-Deif called the operation “Al-Aqsa Storm” and said that the assault on Israel was a response to attacks on women, the desecration of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and the ongoing siege of Gaza.
The next day, Israel launched “Operation Swords of Iron,” striking a number of targets in the Gaza strip. Netanyahu said Israel’s response to the Hamas incursion will “exact a huge price” from the group.