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Ari Parritz spent Friday evening at a joyous place: his cousin's wedding in Caesarea, Israel, a historic seaside town 30 miles north of Tel Aviv.

By the time the St. Paul real estate developer and father of two awoke the next morning in his Tel Aviv hotel, his family's joy had turned to terror. Air-raid sirens blared, but it wasn't until later that morning when Parritz realized the scale of what was going on.

Israel had been attacked by militants from Hamas, the Palestinian political organization that rules Gaza. Hundreds of Israelis were dead, both civilians and military, with 150 more held hostage. An Israeli counterattack would kill hundreds more Palestinians. Overnight, Israelis' tenuous feeling of security evaporated, the fragile Middle East upended.

As rockets rained down, and as the scope of Hamas' attack came into focus, Parritz said he felt emotions similar to those he felt on Sept. 11, 2001, when he was a ninth-grader at Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights, now known as Two Rivers High School.

"When the rockets started, it was almost pro forma: 'Hamas shoots rockets at us, it happens.' That initial hour or so, that was the assumption," Parritz told the Star Tribune on Monday evening from Barcelona, where he had evacuated on a last-minute flight that morning.

But with such a large-scale attack, he said, "we're in new territory. This hasn't happened before. Your tolerance and your compassion and your balance all goes out the window when the strike is so barbaric, with machine guns and gunning down civilians."

As Israel and Hamas erupted into full-blown war, Minnesotans with deep connections to the region reacted with fear for the future.

Sami Rahamim, director of communications and community affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, as well as the son of an Israeli, worried about his grandmother. She's in her 90s and lives in an old Tel Aviv apartment building with no bomb shelter. She's too frail to be moved to a community bomb shelter, so family helped move her bed away from the window.

"Just such a sad situation — this is a nation born out of trauma with refugees from the Holocaust," Rahamim said. "My grandma has dementia. It's almost a sick blessing to be unaware of this horrible thing that's happening."

Aaron Weininger, senior rabbi at Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, has plenty of deep connections to Israel. His congregation helped a synagogue in Be'er Sheva, 30 miles from Gaza, to build a bomb shelter. He visited Israel this year for a celebration marking 75 years since Israel's founding.

And Weininger's brother, Daniel, a rabbi in Jerusalem, was called up as an Israeli military reservist just hours after Saturday's attack. It was one day before his baby daughter turned 6 months old.

"Many families are sitting with the uncertainty of loved ones going to serve and not knowing what comes next," Weininger said. "That's the hardest part."

Minnesotans with familial connections to Gaza are experiencing similar emotions — fear, uncertainty, anger — but from a diametrically opposed viewpoint.

Taher Herzallah, a graduate student in American Studies at the University of Minnesota, serves as national grassroots organizer for American Muslims for Palestine, an organization that lobbies for Palestinian rights. Both his parents are from Gaza. His dad's side of the family still lives there.

He called Hamas' attack "a shaking off of decades of oppression and brutality and violence." But he immediately feared what the Israeli response will mean for his extended family.

"Palestinians felt a sense of surprise — not at the idea of resistance, but surprise at the scale of the resistance and the tenacity of it," Herzallah said. "We were already dying. People arguing Palestinians brought this upon themselves don't understand that the conditions of life we've been placed under are the conditions of slow death."

About 300 people marched in solidarity with Palestine in downtown Minneapolis on Monday night after a rally outside Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office.

Protesters held signs reading "No more aid for Israel's crimes" and "Divest Minnesota from apartheid Israel."

Nesma, 20, a student at the University of Minnesota who didn't want her last name used, said her family in Gaza are not allowed to leave and have no option to flee like many Israelis.

"They have nothing to defend themselves with; there's no way for them to fight back," she said. "They are waiting to die."

On Monday evening, Parritz wandered the streets of Barcelona in a daze. An unexpected trip to a great European city should have been a blessing, but Parritz felt like a zombie, helpless, unsure what to do or what to think as he waited for a flight home to Minnesota later this week.

He was sickened by moral equivalencies on social media that framed Hamas' attack as just deserts for Israel: "'This is what you get for occupying' — it's so disgusting, I can't even say it out loud."

He thought about the booms from Israel's Iron Dome air defense system downing Hamas' rockets, how he felt those explosions in his bones. He thought about his fear Monday morning when his cousin drove him to Tel Aviv's airport, reportedly a Hamas target.

And he thought about Israelis who filled his flight to Spain.

"The plane was filled with kids," he said. "I was sitting next to a father with his wife and two very young kids. They live in Tel Aviv in an old building that doesn't have a bomb shelter. They had to leave. They weren't safe there. And they were concerned: What if another front opens, a northern front, with missiles more powerful and dangerous than the rockets from Gaza?"

Staff writer Zoë Jackson contributed to this report.