Raleigh, N.C. — Despite being separated from the region by thousands of miles, people in the Triangle with friends and family in the Gaza Strip are feeling the full effects of Israel's nearly weeklong offensive.
For many, the startling images coming out of the area are both a stark reminder of the toll of more than 1,500 Israeli strikes and a way to stay connected to people in the region.
Amani Asad, who has family in Gaza, says news coverage of the fighting helps her stay connected to what her family is experiencing.
"It's very upsetting," Asad said. "You're constantly worried about the well-being of your family."
Asad and her husband said they feel fortunate to be raising their three children in the United States, but said they constantly worry for the safety of their extended family.
"We're not getting that peace of mind, you just can't when you see those images. You just can't rest," she said.
Since the attacks began, 133 Palestinians, including at least 54 civilians, have been killed. Some 840 people have been wounded, including 225 children, Gaza health officials said Tuesday.
Abdullah Dorgham, a student at North Carolina State University, has used the Internet to keep in touch with relatives in Gaza.
"I'm messaging him now because I haven't heard from him, he's my cousin," Dorgham said. "That area, I've seen before, I've visited. I know where that is, who could possibly be there and are they OK. That's the first thought that comes to my mind."
Nesren Elhertaini, also a student at NC State, said her family in Gaza lives close to some of the people killed in the violence.
"They said it's by luck whether they are going to live or not," she said. "There is a house right down the street from them that was victim to an airstrike, and 11 people in the family died."
Like millions of others, people in the Triangle want and end to the violence.
"Both sides are suffering, both sides have had their losses and I think it is time to end it," Dorgham said.
Elhertaini agreed, saying people in the region want to "live without fear."
A diplomatic push to end Israel's nearly weeklong offensive in the Gaza Strip gained momentum Tuesday, with Egypt's president predicting that airstrikes would soon end, the U.S. Secretary of State racing to the region and Israel's prime minister saying his country would be a "willing partner" to a cease-fire with the Islamic militant group Hamas.
As international diplomats worked to cement a deal, a senior Hamas official said an agreement was close even as relentless airstrikes and rocket attacks between the two sides continued.