By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — A cease-fire may be getting closer between Israel and the militant group Hamas. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to the region, there are reports Egypt has brokered a truce, but Israel now says nothing has been finalized.

Many in Maryland have strong ties to the region, and they are praying for peace.

Mike Hellgren spoke to them for their insight, and has the emotional toll this is taking.

The tensions unfolding in Gaza and Israel are being felt around the world, and having a profound impact in Maryland.

“I’m following them by the hour, all day long,” said Janine Frier, Owings Mills.

Janine Frier–who lives in Owings Mills–just got back from visiting friends and family in Israel.

“The sirens went off and we were in a hotel and ushered into the basement really quickly,” said Frier. “It is very scary. Your adrenaline kicks in immediately. Your mind goes to a thousand places.”

Elias Shomali–who lives in Towson–was born in Palestine and speaks to loved ones in the region daily.

Shomali: “We were on the phone talking to them.”
Hellgren: “And you could hear the sirens.”
Shomali: “Yes, we can. We get scared too. We get scared for them. This is the story of our lives.”

As they watch what is going on thousands of miles away, they both are keeping faith in a solution.

“Truly I think the people on the ground, both in Israel and in Gaza and in the West Bank, really for the most part would like true and meaningful peace,” Frier said.

“I don’t believe it is hopeless. I do believe in the strength of prayer,” said Shomali. “Peace should not be limited to a cease-fire. There is hope.”

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is rescheduling his visit and plans to be in the region in the next few months.


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