▶ Watch Video: For Palestinian and Israeli Americans, war has made the unimaginable a reality

New York City — At Al Aqsa restaurant in Brooklyn, owner Mahmoud Kasem, a 37-year-old Palestinian American, says his life has not been the same since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 people, according to Israeli officials.

Kasem’s mother is trapped in the West Bank, which has also seen a surge in violence since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, and he worries for her safety.

Hamas officials say the Palestinian death toll in Gaza has risen to more than 8,000 people. Mahmoud says this conflict has been taking lives for 75 years.

“The people in Gaza, every house has death, has a kid lost, died, or a father died, or a cousin died,” Kasem said. “It’s not even one house in Gaza that they don’t have death.” 

Mourners react during the funeral of people killed in Israeli strikes earlier in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Oct. 24, 2023, amid the ongoing war between Israel and the militant group Hamas.

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images

“I am mad for both sides,” Kasem added. “I don’t want no killing for both sides. I really do wanna cry in this meeting, but the babies are losing, the babies are dying.”

Isidore Karten, an Israeli-American, has been organizing rallies in New York since the attack. He served in the Israel Defense Forces in 2020.

“No Israeli soldier that I personally know wants to see an innocent civilian die,” Karten told CBS News.   

“Our hearts go out for any casualties of war,” Karten went on. “And that cannot be equated with the gruesome attacks on innocent civilian lives.”

Karten said he empathizes with those who say they stand with the Palestinian civilians who are caught in the war.

“I empathize with them, because I hope what they’re saying is that they empathize with the Palestinian people, and not with Hamas,” Karten said.

Karten’s uncle, Sharon Edri, was murdered by Hamas in 1996. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the funeral.

“My uncle was kidnapped for seven months,” Karten said. “We ended up finding his body cut in two.”

In this war, both sides have been left struggling with the loss of innocent lives. 

“We have to wipe out this terrorist force and find a way to live together, find a way to bring peace,” Karten said. 

Family members grieve during the funeral of Lili Itamari, 63, and Ram Itamari, 56, on Oct. 29, 2023, in Kibbutz Ruhama, Israel. The couple from Kibbutz Kfar Aza were killed when Hamas militants attacked the kibbutz near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. 

Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images

“Believe me, most of Gaza people, they don’t want this war,” Kasem said. “They want to live in peace.”