Israeli resident to deliver public address at KU detailing dangers faced during Oct. 7 Hamas attacks
photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World
Members of KU’s Jewish community are bringing an Israeli resident to Lawrence next week to give a firsthand account of how he and his family were under siege during the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.
Gal Cohen-Solal, an Israeli resident, father and businessman, will be the featured speaker at a 6 p.m. public event on Feb. 15 at the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union of the KU campus.
Cohen-Solal will tell how he and his family hid in a safe room of their home for nearly 30 hours as attackers attempted to break into the house. The father of three lives with his family in Kibbutz Re´im a small community just outside the Gaza region, which is where Hamas is based. In a statement announcing the Lawrence event, Cohen-Solal estimated that about 60 terrorists entered the community during the Oct. 7 event, and a standoff between terrorists and security forces took place just outside his home’s window.
Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, director of Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Life at KU, helped arrange for Cohen-Solal to come to Lawrence.
“In the aftermath of the tragic events that unfolded in Israel on October 7th, a wave of misinformation has inundated discussions, social media platforms, and various online outlets,” Tiechtel said via email. “This surge in misinformation is largely attributed to the reliance on secondary sources, where reports and articles are disseminated by individuals who have gleaned information from other reports and articles.”
He said organizers hope the upcoming event, being billed as “Faces of October Seventh,” will help bring “authentic narratives” to the conversations surrounding the attacks.
On Oct. 7, Hamas militants stormed into Israel, and Israel vowed to destroy the militant group, which is embedded in the Gaza region. The Hamas attacks killed more than 1,200 people in Israel, and more than 250 people were taken hostage, according to reporting from the Associated Press.
In the days that followed, Israel launched extensive military operations to root out Hamas from the region. The AP, citing Palestinian authorities, has reported more than 24,000 deaths in Gaza, as military operations have spread into civilian areas suspected of housing Hamas militants.
The conflict has sparked protests and demonstrations across the globe and in Lawrence. Days after the Oct. 7 attack, the executive board of the labor union for graduate teaching assistants at KU issued a statement condemning the state of Israel as part of a broader letter of solidarity for Palestine.
On the one-month anniversary of the attack, a large number of area residents asked the Lawrence City Commission to pass a resolution calling for a cease-fire in the Israeli-Hamas conflict.
Through it all, members of KU’s Jewish community have seen an increase in hatred on social media, and have faced upsetting situations through protests and demonstrations on the KU campus that often have targeted the actions of Israel without condemning the actions of Hamas on Oct. 7, which included reports of not only killings of civilians but of beheadings, rapes and other atrocities.
“In my 18 years on campus, I have never before experienced this level of hatred and negativity,” Tiechtel told the Journal-World in December of rising local tensions related to the Israeli-Hamas conflict in the Middle East.
Tiechtel said the Feb. 15 event will be free and open to the public, but organizers are asking attendees to RSVP in advance of the event. They can do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Chabad Center at 785-832-8672.