Two U.S. lawmakers who were in Israel when Hamas terrorists launched a surprise attack on the country are now safely back home, their offices said Sunday.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was jogging Saturday in Jerusalem when the attacks began.
Booker, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was in Jerusalem and was scheduled to speak at an event on Tuesday. He was also in the country for planned meetings, site visits, and an economic summit, his office said on Sunday.
He and his staff members were in Jerusalem when the attacks began, but they were “sheltered in place for safety,” his spokesperson said.
The senator detailed on X how he learned about the attack saying he received “urgent call from my chief of staff telling me to get back to the hotel as quickly as I could – that Israel was under attack. There were thousands of rockets being launched”.
“When I got back to the hotel I joined others in the bomb shelter or the stairwells,” he said, adding that there were “frightened faces.”
“There were children and elderly, families, many Americans. There was a sense of fear and worry, and a knowledge to many of us that there were horrific things going on,” he said in the video.
I was in Israel when the horrific attacks carried out by Hamas started on Saturday. My team and I are now safe, but like many we are shaken, angered, and heartbroken by the hundreds killed, the thousands injured, those taken hostage, and all who are directly affected by these… pic.twitter.com/E4BgEZxSTC
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) October 8, 2023
Booker was “able to safely depart Israel” early on Sunday, his spokesperson said.
“My team and I are now safe, but like many we are shaken, angered, and heartbroken by the hundreds killed, the thousands injured, those taken hostage, and all who are directly affected by these sickening terrorist attacks,” Booker said on X. “After this experience, more than ever, I am committed to working with my colleagues in the Senate to continue supporting Israel’s security and ensuring stability in the region — and I hope one day soon, a long-term and just peace in the region.”
Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY), his wife, and three children were also in Israel when a barrage of rockets was launched by Hamas.
They were there for a family Bar Mitzvah when the attacks began, Goldman’s spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday.
Goldman’s family sheltered in a stairwell inside a hotel until they were able to safely depart for New York early Sunday morning.
Simone Kanter, Goldman’s spokesman, said the attack occurred on Shabbat and Simchat Torah, one of the holiest Jewish holidays.
He added that Goldman was “grateful for the assistance of the State Department and Israeli authorities, and he hopes all Americans can come together to support Israel’s right to defend herself from terrorism and war crimes.”
At least 1,100 people have been killed in the terrorist attack so far including nine U.S. citizens, the State Department says. Thousands more have been wounded and more than 123,000 people in Gaza moved to shelters in expectation of Israeli counterstrikes against Hamas positions.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, “We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and the families of all those affected.” The State Department did not provide further details about the circumstances of the deaths. Miller also said some U.S. citizens aren’t accounted for, “and we are working with our Israeli partners to determine their whereabouts.”
Americans have reportedly been taken hostage by Hamas terrorists along with more than 100 Israelis and other foreign nationals, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog confirmed Sunday.
Goldman called on Congress Sunday morning to replenish and expand the Iron Dome, Israel’s air missile defense system capable of defending against many short-range rockets and intercepting them in the air.
But then Goldman tried to score political points with a jab at House Republicans.
“I hope Republicans can get their House in order so we can pass emergency legislation to assist Israel in defending herself,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. The congressman was referring to the upcoming race for House speaker after eight Republicans joined all House Democrats to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the speakership last week.
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., another Democrat lawmaker essentially blamed Israel for the unspeakable atrocities being perpetrated against its civilians by the Palestinian terrorists.
In a statement, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) blamed Israel for the Hamas invasion.
There are members of Congress making excuses for terrorists who kidnap and murder women, children, and grandmothers.
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) October 8, 2023
She wrote, “I grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day,” she wrote. “I am determined as ever to fight for a just future where everyone can live in peace, without fear, and with true freedom, equal rights, and human dignity.”
“The path to that future must include lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance,” Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, said in her statement. “The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation, and apartheid makes no one safer. No person, no child anywhere should have to suffer or live in fear of violence.”
“As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue,” she closed.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley responded to Tlaib’s statement saying, “There are members of Congress making excuses for terrorists who kidnap and murder women, children, and grandmothers.”