Israeli UNM student describes impact of Israel-Hamas war
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Yehonatan Haim is a University of New Mexico sophomore. The 22-year-old engineering major is enjoying Albuquerque.
“It’s been great. I really like it,” Haim said.
He came to UNM to run track. He’ll go back to his home country of Israel after he graduates.
His life changed forever on Oct. 7, when hundreds of his fellow Israelis were killed by Hamas in the first attack of the recent conflict. Now, thousands have been killed on both sides, including innocent civilians.
“It kind of feels devastating, that I can’t do much here,” Haim said. “I want people to understand. People are suffering on both sides.”
Haim said seven of his friends have died in the conflict.
“The last few weeks my head has just been thinking about them,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine. It’s really hard to imagine.”
The first attack was a shock.
“I was awake all night. You can’t sleep,” Haim said.
He would later find out one of his friends, Maaian Kalihman, was killed at a music festival near Gaza.
“They found her body. She was running to a kind of hole in the ground to try to hide,” Haim said.
His cousin, Gaya Woddis, with whom he is close, was nearly killed. She had to go to a safe room. She called her mother to say goodbye as people were dying around her. Thankfully, she survived.
Haim said he regularly speaks with his family and friends in Israel to hear how everyone is doing and to make sure they’re safe. They’re living in fear every day.
“You’re afraid. You are afraid. You hear the sirens all the time, the rockets going toward your house,” Haim said. “All the community hurts. Everyone just hurts.”
He said he has some close friends who are Palestinian, and everyone wants this war to end.
“We want peace. We love each other. We truly love each other. We care about each other,” Haim said.
He said he has not faced any hate directed toward him while at UNM.