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Bay Area Palestinian community mobilizes support for Gaza amidst violent conflict

Palestinian community trying to stay in contact with family in Gaza amidst violent conflict
Palestinian community trying to stay in contact with family in Gaza amidst violent conflict 02:25

OAKLAND — In a small deck-turned-office in Oakland, Waseem Hajj, a leader at the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, is sifting through heartbreaking images from Gaza City.

"This is what Gaza City looks like … looks like hell," he said. "This is all bombing."

Waseem is among several Palestinian leaders in the Bay Area working tirelessly to help locals cope with the tragedy unfolding in their homeland. 

"We have a lot of Palestinian community here in the Bay Area, and our families are right now terrified. People are in high spirits. The Palestinians are resilient, but right now there's so much in the air," he states.

His organization, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, is redoubling its efforts to stay in touch with Palestinians struggling to cope with the violence in Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry reports that hundreds of people, including children, have been killed in Israel's retaliatory airstrikes.

Also Read: Pair of Middle East experts give insight into timing of Hamas attack on Israel

"Palestinians in Gaza live in what is described by human rights organizations as the world's largest open-air prison, two million people without the freedom of movement. Electricity, food, medicine, water can be cut off at any time by the Israeli state. There's no possibility of a free life," Waseem explains, highlighting the dire situation.

Despite understanding the complexities of the conflict, Waseem condemns all acts of violence. "It's brutal. What you see on the screen every day is brutal, but what's most terrifying is they can't even contact their families. I've talked to some of my clients, community members, and my friends, and they can't get in contact with their families in Gaza," he told KPIX.

For now, Waseem remains in the Bay Area, closely following the news, managing cases, and preparing for the possibility of more Palestinians seeking refuge. 

"We're making plans internally as to how to deal with the possible immigration consequences for the United States here in the Bay Area, as well as offering our services to our Arab Palestinian community, as we always do," he said.

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