BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The conflict in Gaza continues to spark intense passions and concerns across the United States, including right here in Maryland.
Derek Valcourt was at the site of a rally in Charles Village.
Among the dead are two Americans serving in the Israeli defense forces. More than 700 Americans voluntarily serve in Israel's military -- people like Baltimore native Risa Kelemer.
"If this country needs it, I will give my life and I will give everything I have. But I'm hoping I'll be able to go home and hug my family at the end of the day and that they'll know that I'm safe and doing what I have to," Kelemer said.
She recently finished her service in a combat unit, making her father proud.
"This is how we raised our kids. There's nothing more meaningful in our democracy than choosing to live, choosing life," her father, Yossi Kelemer, said.
Yossi Kelemer leaves Baltimore, heading to Israel this weekend, where he'll visit another American Israeli soldier -- 19-year-old Baltimore native Jordan Low -- who was recently wounded in combat.
He's taking with him care packages and notes from local children.
"We are thinking of you. We're sending you our hugs," he said.
But Americans on both sides of the conflict are showing solidarity.
"It's horrific. It's a tremendously concerning regarding the humanitarian crisis, especially that's unfolding on the ground," said Zainab Chaudry, Council on American Islamic Relations.
Chaundry's office has collected 1,500 letters from Marylanders to U.S. senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, urging them to intervene on behalf of civilians in Palestine, where in the past two days, dozens of children have been killed.
"A ceasefire. We want what I'm sure many people across the world want. We want the violence to end," said Chaundry.
"People don't have to love their neighbors to be at peace. It can be done," said Yossi Kelemer.
This is the 17th day of fighting between Israel and Hamas.
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