DeKalb officials show support for Israel after attacks

Members of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and local House of Representatives members are declaring their support for Israel after a deadly, surprise attack by Hamas on Oct. 7.

On Oct. 10, after thousands of Israelis and Palestinians were killed, injured, captured or still listed as missing, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond, joined by the board of commissioners, adopted a resolution condemning Hamas before raising the Israeli flag in support.

The resolution reads, in part, “the terrorist Palestinian group Hamas launched one of the largest invasions of Israel in 50 years, killing hundreds and taking many captives. The attack occurred during a major Jewish holiday and comes during a time when the state of Israel is celebrating its 75th anniversary of Independence which was declared in May 1948 and recognized by the United States of America.”

Thurmond went on to say the attack is being called “Israel’s 9/11,” in reference to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. perpetrated by al-Qaeda, an Islamist extremist group.

“Here in DeKalb County, we have one of the largest Orthodox Jewish populations anywhere in the Southeast,” said Thurmond. “On behalf of DeKalb County and its more than 750,000 citizens, we join with our Jewish residents and those around the world who are grieving and condemning these acts of destruction and chaos at the hands of terrorists.”

House of Representative members Hank Jonson and Nikema Williams also released statements condemning Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Though Johnson stated that “for too long, the world has ignored the issue of a Palestinian homeland and until this issue is resolved and justice is allowed to reign, peace will continue to elude the world,” on Oct. 7, he followed up with a message condemning Hamas days later.

“I must express my absolute horror at the scope and scale of the killing and carnage perpetrated upon innocent infants, children, teenagers, the elderly, as well as men and women for simply being citizens of Israel,” Johnson said on Oct. 10. “I condemn the terrorist group Hamas unequivocally for perpetrating this brutal assault on civilians. There is no justification for it, and I stand with righteous people who stand with Israel and her citizens and friends amidst the gloom of this unprecedented attack.”

Williams, who is a co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations, joined Rep. Debbie Schultz and Rep. Wesley Hunt condemning Hamas while calling on the U.S. government to “take swift, concrete steps to protect our American Jewish communities.”

“We stand with Israel and our hearts go out to the families and communities affected by the senseless acts of terrorism and hope to see a swift and safe return of those held hostage,” the statement by the caucus reads, in part. “The bond between the United States and Israel is, and will always be, ironclad. Additionally, while we have no indication of specific domestic antisemitic threats related to the recent terrorist attacks in Israel, if the past is a guide for the future, the coming days could be a precarious time for the American Jewish community.”

The threat of heightened tensions and a possible increase in hate crimes locally due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine led DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox to join the Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett Sheriff’s Offices to work together to “identify proactive measures to prevent and respond to discrimination and any threats to the safety and security of Jewish and Muslim neighbors.”

On Oct. 9, the sheriff’s offices held a conference with interfaith leaders to hear more about the concerns of their communities and “explore ways in which law enforcement can play a meaningful role in their safety and well-being,” stated officials.

Organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League’s Southern Division, Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, and representatives from the offices of Sen. Jon Ossoff and Sen. Raphael Warnock were also part of the conference.

“We understand these are challenging times,” the joint statement from the sheriff’s offices reads, in part. “Instances of hate have no place in our region, state and country.”

According to multiple news outlets, more than 2,000 Israeli and Palestinian people had been confirmed dead at press time.

This is a developing story.



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