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Todd Gloria Mourns Sister City Mayor Killed in Hamas Attack; Death Toll Rises

SAN DIEGO - San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and the city's Jewish leaders expressed sorrow today over the death of Ofir Liebstein, the mayor of Shar'ar Hanegev, San Diego's sister city in Israel, after news of Liebstein's death in the Hamas attack.

``This morning I learned of the death of Mayor Ofir Liebstein. He led Shar'ar Hanegev in southern Israel and was killed defending his community. San Diego is a sister city of Shar'ar Hanegev and there are deep connections between our two cities,'' Gloria posted on X.

Gloria shared further posts, along with photos of Liebstein's visit to San Diego in 2021, and Gloria's subsequent visit to Shar'ar Hanegev.

``Ofir was a friend and the news of his death is absolutely heartbreaking. I offer San Diego's deepest condolences to his family and the people of the community he loved so much and served so well,'' the mayor continued.

``My condolences extend to all of the innocent civilians killed in the terrorist attacks by Hamas. San Diego stands with Israel,'' Gloria concluded.

The Jewish Federation of San Diego said ``Ofir was killed as he went out to defend the community during the terrorist attack. The council's administration, its employees and the entire Sha'ar HaNegev community are saddened by his death. Deputy head of the council, Yossi Keren, is currently filling his place. The council's administration and the council's emergency team continue to handle the events.''

The federation is collecting donations for ``our friends in Israel and Sha'ar Hanegev.''

Donations can be made via the group's Facebook page at facebook.com/photo/?fbid=338462848706747&set=a.145563694663331.

Fabienne Perlov, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of San Diego, released the following statement: ``The entire San Diego community mourns the loss of our sister city colleague and send collective condolences to his family and the families of the victims in the Hamas attack against Israel.

We wish for a speedy recovery for those wounded, pray for peace and stand with Israel.''

The San Diego Police Department told City News Service that no extra security measures had been activated for local Jewish and Muslim institutions as of late Saturday morning, but they said it was a possibility.

Hamas -- a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist group founded in 1987 that disputes Israel's right to territory -- launched the attack early Saturday morning, firing thousands of rockets into Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip and also sending in ground forces.

Israel announced at least 250 of its people were killed and 1,500

wounded, and an unknown number of Israeli soldiers and civilians were captured

and taken to Gaza as hostages.

Israeli authorities said a second round of rockets were fired at the

nation Saturday evening, and struck multiple locations inside Israel, including

in Tel Aviv.

More than 230 Palestinians have reportedly been killed in retaliatory

fighting.

The attack came on the 50th anniversary of the so-called ``Yom Kippur

War,'' in which Israel was attacked by a coalition of Arab states.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his nation, ``We are at

war'' in a televised address. ``What happened today has never been seen in

Israel. We will take mighty vengeance for this black day,'' Netanyahu said.

President Joe Biden issued a statement of support for Israel, and many

elected leaders throughout California condemned the attack.

``Today, I spoke with @IsraeliPM about the appalling Hamas terrorist

attacks in Israel. I offered our support and reiterated my unwavering

commitment to Israel's security,'' Biden posted on X. ``@FLOTUS and I express

our heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost loved ones.''

Sha'ar HaNegev is a city of about 9,000 people located close to the

Gaza border.

The Jewish Federation of San Diego has nurtured a relationship with

Sha'ar HaNegev for more than 20 years, and has provided more than $13 million

in funding to the region.

The U.S. State Department said U.S. citizens seeking to get in touch

with the U.S. Embassy in Israel can go to http://cacms.state.gov/s/crisis-

intake, or call 888-407-4747.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

CNS-10-07-2023 18:18

 

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