SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– The death toll continues to climb as the Israel-Hamas war escalates in the middle east.

Israel’s prime minister declared a state of war after a surprise attack by Hamas Saturday, an act of terrorism America’s leaders are strongly denouncing.

“This was an act of sheer evil, more than 1,000 civilians slaughtered, not just killed, slaughtered in Israel, among them at least 14 American citizens killed,” President Biden said Tuesday. 

President Biden expressed continued support for Israel Tuesday as the violence escalates in the Gaza Strip.

It’s a conflict that’s been ongoing for decades, but in tonight’s Your Money Matters, the leader of South Dakota Trade says it’s a big hit to some major strides for peace that have happened in the region over the past few years.

“I worked at the Export-Important Bank of the United States in Washington, DC, and at the same time in which the original Abraham Accords were signed just three years ago,” SD Trade President Luke Lindberg said.

Luke Lindberg was a part of the Trump administration’s move to help garner a new trade and peace agreement between Israel and neighboring nations back in 2020.

“The Abraham Accords was the opportunity for several Arab nations, the United Arab Emirates, the Bahrainis to sign peace agreements with the state of Israel. That provided context for new trade and investment in the region, but really recognizing Israel’s right to exist,” Lindberg said.

It’s a mission President Biden hoped to grow in a meeting last month, working with the Israeli government in an attempt to include Saudi Arabia into those peace accords.

“By Saudi Arabia joining those accords it really legitimizes Israel’s existence for the long run,” Lindberg said.

It’s why Lindberg believes Hamas attacked Israel this weekend, in an attempt to disrupt those peace talks.

“The reality is Hamas is a terrorist organization backed by the Iranians. The things they’re doing today are completely awful, awful things,” Lindberg said.

Watching the devastation has many Americans and those here in KELOLAND looking to help; Lindberg says bolstering trade is one way to help support Israel.

“In the long run it’s going to take a commitment to the region to be engaged and following up. I think that involves everything from us selling agricultural goods to them, us buying goods they make, creating those everlasting ties that can promote the prosperity when this is over and done with,” Lindberg said.

Lindberg says South Dakota Trade hosted several of Israel’s Arab allies at the Midwest Agricultural Export summit this past August to help create new trade relationships in the region.