By Bill Raack, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – While clashes in the Middle East continue, Israel's supporters in Missouri are speaking out in solidarity.
Several current and former Missouri lawmakers who gathered at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis today said that Israel has a right to defend itself against attacks from the militant group Hamas. Former U.S. Senator Jim Talent says rockets from Gaza into Israel should be considered terrorism.
"We certainly hope this exercise ends as quickly as possible, this conflict ends as quickly as possible, but there should be no cease fire until Israel accomplishes her objectives and or there is a solid and verifiable commitment on the part of Hamas not to launch these rockets in the future," Talent said.
Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, who visited Israel last month, coordinated today's event. He said Israel has a right to defend itself from Hamas attacks under international law.
"This is an intolerable situation," Kinder said. "Israel has exercised extraordinary forbearance in not responding sooner."
Members of the Muslim community in St. Louis held a press conference last week, saying that Israel's military response to the Hamas attacks has been disproportionate and inhumane. Palestinians in St. Louis and supporters of Gaza have held so-called local "vigils" each afternoon for more than a week, calling for an end to Israel's offensive.
Supporters of Israel will hold a rally of their own in St. Louis on Thursday.