Fighters with the militant group Hamas rushed out of the Gaza Strip Saturday, sweeping through Israeli territory in a brutal surprise attack. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the country is now at war, calling up more than 300,000 reservists. Thousands died in the initial attack and the days after, with Israeli troops retaking villages early this week and amassing at the border of the enclave.
The war sent reverberations around the globe, affecting many in Massachusetts. Follow here for live updates.
Needham man travels to Israel to serve with daughters
Boaz Arbel, a Needham resident who formerly served as an officer in the Israeli Air Force, is back in his home country after reenlisting into military service. Arbel, a 53-year-old technology executive, told Boston 25 News that he is joining his four daughters, all between the ages of 21 and 26.
Arbel said his daughters all chose to serve with the Israeli Defense Forces after graduating from high schools in Greater Boston. He took a direct 10 hour flight to Israel on a plane for those reenlisting in the military to returning to the country for funerals, according to 25 News.
“For me, it’s coming back to four daughters who are all serving right now,” Arbel told 25 News. “We are not going to surrender.”
Mass. man’s family taken hostage by Hamas
A Needham man returned from visiting family in a war-torn Israel over the weekend and told ABC affiliate WCVB that several of his relatives were captured by Hamas following the group’s surprise deadly attack.
Jason Greenberg said his aunt, cousins, nieces, and a 12-year-old nephew — who live on a kibbutz near the Gaza border — were among the reported 150 hostages taken by Hamas fighters.
“There’s nothing more that we’d like to be able to do than to help them, and there’s literally nothing we can do right now,” he told the news station.
Greenberg was visiting his father, sister, and her family north of Tel Aviv at the time of the surprise attacks. He was able to get his father out of Israel and to Massachusetts and said his sister and her family are safe.
Israeli officials have yet to release specific details about the hostages and the exact number of those abducted, the New York Times reports, but said the civilians taken include women and children. After Israel declared war in response to the surprise attacks, Hamas on Monday threatened to kill a hostage every time the Israeli government hits Gaza with airstrikes “without warning.”
“Let these people go, please,” Greenberg said. “They’ve done nothing to you.”
CNN reports that more than 100,000 Gazans have been displaced because of Israeli airstrikes.
A retired Brandeis professor said Monday that his daughter and son-in-law were killed in Israel over the weekend. Ilan Troen, who taught Israeli studies at the Massachusetts university before moving back to Israel, said the attack amounted to a “pogrom.”
In an interview with CNN, Troen described being on the phone with his daughter, 50-year-old Deborah Mathias, in the moments before she died. Her husband, 49-year-old Shlomi Mathias, was also killed. Troen’s grandson, who sustained a gunshot wound to the stomach, spent an entire day texting with family as he hid from the fighters.
“We were on the phone with Deborah as she was killed. We were on the phone the entire day with our grandson, Rotem, as he lay first under her body and then found a place to escape under a blanket in a laundry,” he told CNN. Read the Boston.com report here.
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