SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Fighting between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate this week. On Friday morning, Israel launched an air strike in response to a recent rocket attack by Hamas. 22News asked leaders in the local Muslim and Jewish community to weigh-in on this ongoing conflict.

Tensions are running high in the Middle East, with Israel launching one of its biggest air strikes on Lebanon and the Gaza strip Friday in retaliation for Hamas pummeling the country with dozens of rockets. While the UN calls for restraint, local leaders pray for peace.

Nora Gorenstein, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, sent 22News the following statement that says, in part, “We here in the United States together with the people of Israel also pray for peace and for an end to the conflict. Thank you to our community leadership of all faiths for recognizing our shared wish for peace and interfaith collaboration around the world just as we have here in Massachusetts.”

This fighting comes during an important religious time for both communities. The Jews are celebrating Passover and the Muslim community is marking the holy month of Ramadan. The Islamic Society of western Massachusetts was filled with worshippers Friday. The president of the center says he notices more reasoning between religious groups here in the U.S.

“I am hoping one day that people can just live in peace harmony and put down, put away whatever history or whatever situation that has kind of lead us to the point that we’re in because you can’t fight violence with violence,” said Mohammed Dastigir, President of the Islamic Center of western Massachusetts.

Sue Gamelli of Westfield told 22News, “There’s babies involved in this, they get killed. I don’t care what your parent’s religion is. No child deserves to be in that situation and that’s the best that we can hope for is that they talk.”

Tensions similar to what we are seeing now spilled over into an 11 day war between Israel and Hamas leaders in 2021.