Metro Atlanta interfaith leaders call for cease-fire in Holy Land

More than 30 interfaith leaders and activists met in downtown Atlanta for a press conference calling for a ceasefire in  Israel's war against Hamas. Speaking is ilise   Cohen, co-founder of Jewish Voice for Peace, Atlanta Chapter.. (Shelia Poole/spoole@ajc.com)

Credit: Shelia Poole

Credit: Shelia Poole

More than 30 interfaith leaders and activists met in downtown Atlanta for a press conference calling for a ceasefire in Israel's war against Hamas. Speaking is ilise Cohen, co-founder of Jewish Voice for Peace, Atlanta Chapter.. (Shelia Poole/spoole@ajc.com)

The Rev. Timothy McDonald III has visited the Holy Land three times.

He’s stayed at both the homes of Israelis and homes of Palestinians.

Now as he watches Israel’s war against Hamas unfold with innocent men, women and children dying on both sides of the conflict, he feels both anger and heartache.

On Thursday, he joined more than 30 others, including interfaith religious leaders, a state representative and peace activists, at a news conference across the street from historic Ebenezer Baptist Church to call for the U.S. government to press Israel for a cease-fire and to allow more humanitarian aid.

Others urged all parties and the international community to look for long-term solutions to lasting peace and not to create more hate.

Israel’s war against Hamas was launched just days after a devastating surprise Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants, the deadliest day in Israel in five decades with 1,400 killed and 5,400 injured, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

At least 240 hostages are being held in Gaza, according to AP.

In response, 9,061 Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes in Gaza with another 134 in the West Bank, according to AP, which reports 22,911 injured in Gaza with 2,100 in the West Bank.

“We call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza,” said ilise () Cohen, co-founder of Jewish Voice for Peace, Atlanta Chapter.

“We refuse to allow our government and the government of Israel to twist our grief to justify this genocide against the Palestinian people.”

Never again, she said, means never again for anyone.

State Rep. Ruwa Romman, the first Palestinian-American elected to office in the state, said the last few weeks have been “harrowing to say the least.”

Ann Mauney of Atlanta Grandmothers for Peace attends a press conference to support calls for a ceasefire in Israel's war against Hamas. (Shelia Poole/spoole@ajc.com)

Credit: Shelia Poole

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Credit: Shelia Poole

She said she reads or hears daily about community members who have lost relatives in airstrikes.

Her voice filled with emotion and at times crying, Romman said the question she is getting most from community members is “why? What did they do to deserve this collective punishment? Why are their family members being targeted? They’re not Hamas.”

“This is a time of moral reckoning for all of us people of goodwill,” said the Rev. Darryl Winston, lead pastor of Greater Works Assembly and a former military chaplain.

He urged all parties to “give peace a chance.”

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