Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has waded into Middle East politics. He's publicly sided with Israel in its assault on Gaza. KPCC's Frank Stoltze reports.
Frank Stoltze: Villaraigosa stood alongside Jewish leaders and Israel's consul general to support Israel. In an interview with KPCC, he expressed sympathy for a city near the border with Gaza that he visited last year.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: They've suffered more than 6,000 Kassam and other rocket fire over the last three years, and I stand with Israel's right to protect its citizenry.
Stoltze: At least five Israelis have died in the latest attacks by Hamas. More than 500 Palestinians have been killed. The United Nations says as many as a quarter of them were civilians.
Southern California Muslim leaders condemned the mayor's support of Israel. Edina Lekovic is with the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Edina Lekovic: We are surprised, shocked, and quite disappointed that the mayor is taking such a public stand on what is really in many ways a foreign issue.
Stoltze: Lekovic called on Villaraigosa to meet with Muslim leaders. When asked whether he would, the mayor said only that he's willing to join them in calling for humanitarian aid for Gaza. Villaraigosa faces reelection in March.