TEL AVIV (WWLP) – The war between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate Wednesday with Israel striking targets within the Gaza Strip and Hamas holding an estimated 150 people hostage. 22News spoke with a woman from western Massachusetts who is getting ready to serve in the Israeli army.

Although this young woman is located in Northern Israel, about a hundred miles from where Hamas launched its surprise attack on Saturday, our interview was interrupted when she had to move to safety.

**Knocking “Yes? Ok – Ok I have to go to the bomb shelter, I’m sorry.”

For the past few days, life has been chaotic for 22-year-old Nina Katz. Katz grew up in Longmeadow and is the daughter of Rabbi Amy Wallk of Temple Beth El. She left college to join the army and has been in Israel since June.

“Since Saturday, my world has shifted. There’s no other way to explain it. I know people who are missing, I know people who have been killed; I know people who live in the communities near Gaza that have been in lockdown and their only weapons are pots and pans, no guns,” said Katz.

Katz says she thinks she will be drafted into combat in a month. She is now raising money to support the Israeli soldiers’ food, socks and portable charges. Katz said despite the war, people feel united.

“I have never seen such a strong group of people. I mean today, I was standing outside the grocery store collecting donations for soldiers and I was not the only one there. War, unfortunately, and disasters like this, really unite people,” said Katz.

Gary Lafort is a retired professor at American International College and a career military officer. He offers his perspective on this ongoing war, “They’ve been under a constant siege going all the way to when they got their independence in 1948. What people fail to realize is that they are fighting for their survival.”

The Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts is working to raise money for victims of terror, emergency medical services, rebuilding infrastructure and more. If you would like to help, you can learn more here.

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