SUNRISE, FLA. (WSVN) - Local religious leaders expressed their deep concern with the recent spike of hate crimes in South Florida and across the country, as well as the ongoing violence in the Middle East.

As Israel continues to fight Hamas, locally, both sides have been affected.

Leaders with the American Jewish Committee addressed reporters in a news conference held Thursday.

“The Jewish community is frightened, we are in mourning, we are anxious, and we are worried,” said Ted Deutch, the organization’s CEO and a former U.S. representative for the state of Florida.

Jewish leaders took the opportunity to remind everyone just how tragic the surprise attack earlier this month has been.

“We have to note that today, more than two weeks have elapsed since Hamas terrorists murdered, raped, tortured, kidnapped and maimed more than 5,000 Israeli children, mothers, grandparents and numerous others,” said Brian Siegel with the American Jewish Committee. “More than 200 women, children and others remain captives of Hamas.”

However, those in the Muslim community said they’re suffering, too.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group, held a news conference at the Islamic Center of Broward in Sunrise on Thursday.

“We have to know that, in every town — whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Black, Latino, Asian — regardless, there’s a beating heart that wants to be loved and cared for,” said Imam Abdullah Jaber, executive director of CAIR Florida.

Donna Neville with the activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace said that Palestinians are being targeted locally and abroad.

“At this very moment, there is a catastrophe happening. Israel has been bombing the people of Gaza, both adults and children,” she said. “The people of Gaza are being killed at the hands of the Israeli army, and Gaza itself is being decimated.

“We’re here today to give a voice to a people that have no voice: the Palestinians,” said Samir Kakli, executive director of the South Florida Muslim Federation. “The people of Gaza, they are human beings.”

Both sides agree that everyone deserves to have a sense of safety. However, Jewish Americans said Hamas’ actions were an unprovoked attack that led to this war.

“We mourn the dead, console the bereaved, and as our hearts are broken, our determination to stand against evil has never been stronger,” said Siegel.

Leaders who spoke at the Islamic Center asked for a ceasefire, claiming violations to international law. However, leaders with the American Jewish Committee said this war, and it will not end until Hamas ceases to exist.

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