LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Hundreds of shaken passengers arrived in Los Angeles from Tel Aviv on Sunday morning after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel that plunged the country into a state of violence and left over 1,000 dead on both sides.
Many of the 243 passengers said the flight from Tel Aviv was delayed by at least an hour after an attack near the airport and they were taken to an emergency shelter.
“There were rockets firing at Tel Aviv…we were already at the airport with everyone and then there was another alarm and we all had to hide in the shelter, so they took us all down…to the shelter,” the passenger said Dana Benyehuda.
She added that she had never seen anything like the attacks that struck the country this weekend.
“This is not acceptable. The way they treated corpses and civilians, the way they (kidnapped) elderly people and small babies… I have to say, I’ve never seen anything like that in my life, and I’m 40 years old.” . That is hard.”
As they walked through the arrivals gate at LAX on Sunday morning, many were relieved to see their loved ones had landed safely.
However, police are increasing security measures and patrolling around Jewish institutions in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration is urging U.S. airlines and pilots to exercise caution when flying in Israeli airspace. Some airlines, including Delta and American, have either canceled or rerouted flights to Tel Aviv.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is planning a vigil for Israel at the Stephen Wise Temple in LA on Sunday at 8 p.m
More than 24 hours after Hamas launched its unprecedented advance from Gaza, Israeli forces were still trying to defeat the last groups of militants holed up in several cities. At least 700 people were reportedly killed in Israel – a staggering toll the country has not seen in decades – and more than 400 were killed in Gaza as Israeli airstrikes bombarded the area.
The declaration of war hinted at greater fighting, and a key question was whether Israel would launch a ground attack on Gaza, a move that has led to greater casualties in the past. Meanwhile, in northern Israel, a brief exchange with the militant Hezbollah group in Lebanon fueled fears that fighting could escalate into a larger regional war.
Authorities were still trying to determine how many civilians and soldiers were captured and returned to Gaza by Hamas militants during the chaos. Videos and witness statements show that the prisoners include women, children and the elderly.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.