When Dan Kaskel booked his yearly trip to Israel, he never thought hed be rushing to bomb shelters, fearing for his life, in the middle of a war.
Kaskel, who is an equity partner with Sachs Sax Caplan law firm, is the president of the Orthodox Boca Raton Synagogue. He told WPTV, hes been to Israel more than 20 times, fewer than 50.
This time, the streets are no longer filled with holiday joy. Instead, he says theyre eerily quiet and lonely.
Tension in the Middle East continues to rise after Israel was slammed by Hamas over the weekend.
Israels prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared a state of war and retaliation. The death toll both in Israel and Gaza is more than than 1,000 and is expected to rise.
Hamas came in by land, by sea, by air, by tunnel, the Boca Raton man told WPTVs Victor Jorges via Zoom on Sunday. “They dragged people out of their homes, they murdered people in their homes, elderly, women, young children. Its an uncivilized, barbaric, particularly heinous way in which a war is started.
Hes been in Israel for a couple of weeks celebrating the Jewish holidays with his family.
They were in Jerusalem for some time before making their way to Tel Aviv, which is away 40 miles from Gaza.
We didnt know wed be that much closer to the front of a war, he said.
This feeling of joy from their yearly family trip to Israel is now switching to fear.
I never thought that Id be speaking to my daughter while shes in a bomb shelter in Jerusalem, and Im in a bomb shelter in Tel Aviv confirming to each other that were okay, he said.
He says there are times hes had to rush to bomb shelters quickly, just to hear another alarm just an hour later; even when they were praying.
That happened four, five times yesterday, he said. The third time it happened it was during service, we had to stop our praying and proceed downstairs to the bomb shelter.
Even with this heartbreaking reality hitting thousands of Jewish people in Israel right now, he sees a glimmer of hope and unity.
When we were in the bomb shelter, we were all singing and the sense of unity and comraderie was just terrific, he said. It was heartwarming. We sung and we danced together. We were there for each other.
Kaskel plans to return home early Tuesday, but he says hes heard of others who were in Israel for the holidays now planning to stick around and help fight back.