It was a sea of red at the Charleston Jewish Community Center on Monday night.

About 200 people, most wearing red, packed the centerís main meeting room to show their support for Israel.

Red was chosen to remind people of Code Red, the alarm that tells Israeli residents they have but a few seconds to get in a bomb shelter to escape an incoming missile fired from Gaza, said Eric Oser of the Charleston Jewish Federationís Israel Advocacy Committee.

An upsurge in missile attacks on Israeli civilians caused the Israeli Air Force last week to launch a continuing series of air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, he said.

The rally was organized to reinforce the message that America must stand with Israel as it defends itself from attack, said Judi Corsaro, chief executive officer of the Charleston Jewish Federation and Charleston Jewish Community Center.

Michael Sharnoff, a senior analyst for Wikistrat and contributor to The Huffington Post, was the keynote speaker. He said there is no doubt that Hamas started the recent conflict, and he suggested several reasons why the militant Islamic group might have done so. Hamas could be trying to find out how much support they have from the new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt; they might be trying to undermine the Palestinian president; or they might be asserting their own power to prove their relevance.

Itís also possible Hamas is forcing an Israeli invasion to increase the number of civilian casualties in Gaza, sacrificing their own people to try to turn opinion against Israel, he said.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.