ISRAEL (PIX11) — Many thousands of Americans remain trapped in Israel following the deadly attack by the militant group Hamas over the weekend and subsequent war.
President Joe Biden made no mention of the situation during an address Tuesday.
The attack and the war unfolded over a holiday for the Jewish people. Many from New York City neighborhoods like Borough Park were visiting Israel at the time to see family and celebrate.
“It is the American State Department’s responsibility to ensure that citizens who are in a war zone get to leave that country and come home safely,” said New York Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein of Borough Park.
New York City is home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, with about 2 million Jewish people living in the city and surrounding areas. Eichenstein said hundreds constituents have made contact looking for help getting their loved ones out.
Moshe Klass dropped by on behalf of his son, who is studying abroad. He worked with staff members for U.S. Reps. Dan Goldman and Yvette Clarke. They set up shop in Borough Park for the day to collect detailed information for the U.S. Department of State.
“We are very nervous and we just want to get him home,” Klass said.
The main issue is that while the airport in Tel Aviv is open, commercial carriers, with the exception of the national Israeli airline El Al, have stopped flying. The U.S. has not begun airlifting citizens like some other countries.
Former PIX11 News reporter Rebecca Solomon, who is stuck in Israel with her husband and baby daughter, got an email back from the Department of State basically telling her she is on her own and to book any flight she can find.
Goldman dropped by the event for a quick in-person briefing. He just barely escaped Israel himself by getting on a last-minute El Al flight.
“Probably tens of thousands of Americans need to come home, thousands in my district alone,” Goldman estimates.
PIX11 News pressed Goldman about why a military airlift operation has not begun. Goldman said it would be a massive undertaking and believes working to restore commercial service is the fastest way to get people out at this point.
“So what we are hopeful for is if things calm down in the north, a little bit in the normal resumption of commercial flights people can come home,” Goldman said.
The congressman did underscore that it is really on the Department of State to decide if it will charter flights or do a military airlift operation.