ST. LOUIS – Pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists in the St. Louis area are reacting to Monday’s major headlines out of the Middle East. It comes after Hamas accepted an Egyptian-Qatari ceasefire proposal, but Israel did not. Israeli officials said they are open to negotiating but could not agree to the current terms.

In the meantime, the Israeli military has already begun bombing Rafah, a heavily populated city in southern Gaza.

People celebrated across Gaza Monday when news of the ceasefire agreement was announced. But back here at home, pro-Palestinian activists expressed frustration when news surfaced that Israel planned to reject the deal.

Michael Berg, a member of the St. Louis chapter of the group Jewish Voice for Peace, said he feels all Americans should care about the conflict because Israel’s military efforts are being funded, in part, with our tax dollars.

“It affects us because our government is arming and allowing it to continue,” Berg said. “It’s not good for anybody in Israel, either. It’s not good for these people, who are still hostages. They’re rejecting their ability to go back alive to their family. It’s a terrible day.” 

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But others see the ceasefire proposal very differently. Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham of the B’nai Amoona congregation in Creve Coeur has kept the photos of the more than 100 Israeli hostages still missing from Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on display in the group’s sanctuary. Seven months later, he feels many have lost sight of how this war began.

“We’re being attacked on a daily basis. Somehow, the script has been flipped that it’s somehow our fault that we were attacked, which really doesn’t make any sense from my perspective,” Abraham said.

Back in Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces dropped thousands of leaflets from the sky over the southern city of Rafah Monday, ordering Palestinians to evacuate to the north. More than one million Palestinians, which is over half of Gaza’s population, are currently living in Rafah. The warning came just hours before the IDF started bombing the city.

United States leaders have repeatedly expressed their concern to Israeli officials over a potential invasion of Rafah. It’s also what’s sparked recent protests here on college campuses in St. Louis and across the country.