Woman who moved from Jacksonville to Israel hides with family in bomb shelter as fighting ignites

After fighting broke out between Palestinians and Israelis in recent days, a woman from Jacksonville who moved to Israel said that even with everything going on there is no place she’d rather be.

The Menaged family said last week they gathered for an outing on Thursday at their home in Beit Shemesh, just outside Jerusalem. The children made candy bags for the celebration of Simchat Torah on Saturday.

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The celebration quickly turned scary when they started hearing sirens. They hid under tables and Natalie Menaged put herself over her children.

“And we sang together, everybody that was in the synagogue sang. We sang under the tables. And we waited for it to pass,” said Menaged and her family who spoke to News4JAX on Monday via Zoom.

They are now tucked away in their bomb shelter which also doubles as a playroom.

Menaged and her two children are about 26 miles away from war. She said no one was expecting it. Now, they constantly hear the booms.

The fight between Israel and Hamas has gone on for years.

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“The majority of Israeli people have been very willing to make painful sacrifices in order for there to be peace for everybody involved here. And we have, unfortunately, a terrorist organization that is deliberately targeting civilians and wants the complete elimination of the other,” Menaged said.

The images of carnage seen in media reports are chilling, and there is killing on both sides.

Palestinian-American Zaina said her people are not terrorists, they are fighting for their freedom.

“What you’re seeing is Hamas coming into Israel, and taking people, and yet Israel comes into Palestine and takes our people on a daily basis. So it’s not terrorism when they do it to us, but it’s terrorism when we do it to them. But the media does not show it. Palestinian lives don’t matter, is what it feels like,” she said.

Zaina said they’ve been oppressed. She said the images are not pretty and it’s triggering for her, because she said what’s happening now happens to Palestinians every day.

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“They are trying to get out of their cage. It’s sad it’s come to this,” Zaina said.

She wants Palestine to win its freedom.

Menaged said she wants the root causes of the suffering addressed to bring an end to the conflict.

“I think it’s very important to say that we want peace and security for everybody,” Menaged said.

If you would like to support those Israelis affected by the war, you can donate here.

There is also a rally to stand with Palestine on Monday night at 6 p.m. at the Duval County Courthouse.

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