The consequences of Hamas’ attack on Israel are being felt in the United States as well. Jewish Israelis return to their homeland from John F Kennedy Airport in New York. “If your house is on fire, you go straight there to save it.”
Tension is in the air at the Israeli El Al check-in desk after the Hamas attack. Groups of heavily armed soldiers walk around and dispatch snoopers. Not only Orthodox Jews who came to visit their relatives for the holiday are standing in line with their luggage. Bookers living in the U.S. and American Jews who want to do their part are traveling to Israel, thanks to the airline’s extra flights.
Avi Kushner, 23, and Ilan Frenkel, 21, met on Tuesday afternoon at the John F. This is how their luggage carts stand full of bags at Kennedy Airport (JFK). “If your house is on fire, you immediately go there to save it,” Frenkel says of his decision to move to Israel now. “It seems that way to us, we are grateful for our life in America, but Israel is our homeland.”
The friends go to volunteer at an orphanage where many of the staff are conscripted into the military. Kushner’s father bids them farewell. “I’m very proud of them,” he says. But the question is when will he see the two again. “I’m not booking a flight again,” said son Kushner. “Maybe my future is in Israel.”
The impact of Hamas’ attack is being felt in the United States, which has the second largest Jewish population after Israel: about 6.5 million. New York in particular has a large, visible community. Posters of Israelis abducted in the attack now hang all over the city. At the local Jewish bakery, you hear regular customers express their support every day.
The same goes for JFK. In front of El Al’s check-in desk, groups of Jewish volunteers, young and old, waved goodbye to evacuees with banners and Israeli flags. Rabbi Ari Korenblit shows videos from the past few days on his phone. There was dancing and singing in front of his synagogue at the airport, soldiers received free meals and frequent hugs. “Nothing unites Jews like danger,” he says. “This is the end of our history.”
On the day US President Joe Biden flies to Israel in an effort to avert a regional war, Rabbi Korenblit organizes a peace prayer. “Here in front of the synagogue, the church and the mosque, everyone will pray together in their own way. A priest and pastor arrive. And imam with faith, but I don’t think so,” he says. “He is a good man, but will surely face the consequences. The Arabs do not come here to support us.
Peace was far from over on Tuesday afternoon, when hundreds of people appeared to have been killed in a rocket attack on a hospital in Gaza City. Palestinians blame Israel, Israel points to Islamic Jihad. If the organizers of the group of volunteers at JFK see it Faith Casa wrote about the hospital, and soon no one wanted to be interviewed anymore. “Your website’s front page doesn’t look good,” says one coordinator. “We don’t have time for you.”
Because we must mobilize for battle. In front of the synagogue are dozens of large field bags containing supplies that Jewish Americans brought for the military and often cost thousands of dollars. The bags contain phone chargers and medical supplies and body armor. Passengers are asked to have their bags checked by volunteers and escorted to their military unit.
Kushner Jr. and Sr. and friend Frenkel soon stood among stacks of felt bags, taping printed addresses with duct tape at the ready. The boys carry several field bags with them and pay for it themselves. Before climbing, spontaneous action rushes the trio. “We’re all doing our best here,” Father Kushner said, bending painfully to lift a bag. “It’s contagious.”
Hundreds were killed in an attack on a hospital in the Gaza Strip
At least 300 people were killed in an airstrike on a hospital in Gaza City, local officials said.
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