NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Israel is said to be bracing for war, and for so many in New York, the conflict in the Middle East is personal.

Israel stepping up its attacks on the Gaza strip Wednesday, targeting a nine-story residential building, firing rockets after issuing a warning of an incoming strike.

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In Tel Aviv on Tuesday, hundreds of Gaza-launched rockets lit up the sky. On the ground, men, women and children ran for their lives. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu making good on a warning that Hamas would pay — but so did Palestinian civilians.

The latest back-and-forth in the decades-long violence due to conflicting claims over Jerusalem has been particularly devastating.

Yuda Widawsky from Brooklyn is working as a paramedic with United Hatzalah in Israel.

“We heard a lot of explosions,” he said.

He performed chest compressions on a patient as bombs went off around him.

“We saw the missiles … so it’s pretty scary, and everybody was huddled over just to keep each other safe,” he said.

In Manhattan, there was a heated and chaotic reaction to the intensifying crisis Tuesday.

Pro-Palestinians protested outside the Israeli consulate.

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“They’re killing my kids. They’re killing my brother,” protester Ahmad Soliman said. “I have family. They are inside the mosque, like, since two days with no food, with no nothing.”

But they were met by counter-protesters carrying the flag of Israel.

“My mother lives on the edge of Gaza,” protester Sophie Sassoon said. “She’s in a shelter as we speak … This is war. I will not sit and watch the only democracy in the Middle East be ripped apart.”

CBS2’s Jessica Layton reports throughout the protest, people from both sides came together and attempted to have a peaceful dialogue, but for the most part, that was drowned out by screaming.

While cops tried to keep the clashes controlled, the world is calling for de-escalation in the Middle East.

“Terrorism is terrorism, wherever it is,” one protester said.

“If this continues, not only Palestinians are gonna die; innocent Israelis are gonna die, too,” another protester said.

Police say there were no arrests.

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CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team