By Max Green and Fatima Moien
Nearly 1,400 Israelis were killed and some 240 were taken hostage in an Oct. 7 surprise attack perpetrated in southern and central Israel by HAMAS, an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement). HAMAS is estimated to have fired more than 2,200 rockets on Israel that day. Since then, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have carried out a series of retaliatory strikes in Gaza, seeking, Israeli government officials say, to dislodge and dismantle HAMAS, which the U.S. Department of State has designated a “foreign terrorist organization” since 1997.
As of press time on Oct. 31, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza had risen to more than 8,000, including 3,450 children, according to the Associated Press and UNICEF, which is calling for an immediate ceasefire. That toll was expected to rise with continued bombing by Israel and the lack of basic necessities, including drinking water.
WRHU reporters Max Green and Fatima Moien recently spoke with Amin Khwaja, president of the Long Island Islamic Center in Westbury, to hear the Long Island Muslim perspective on the current conflict.
Across Nassau and Suffolk counties, there are roughly 80,000 to 100,000 practicing Muslims and some 40 mosques. Khwaja, a refugee from Afghanistan, moved to the U.S. after settling with his family in India and then Saudi Arabia. Khwaja, a commercial airline pilot, said ignorance and misinformation about Arab, Muslim and Palestinian identities abounds in the narratives that are playing out in the media, including social media, and the everyday rhetoric of elected leaders and other government officials across the U.S.