Puerto Rican family stranded in Tel Aviv amid Israel’s war against Hamas
By The Star Staff
The war that Israel has declared to push militants from the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) off its soil has left dozens of people stranded at the Tel Aviv Airport, including a Puerto Rican family.
The war caught a Puerto Rican man living in New Jersey, Miguel Santiago, in the middle of a family vacation. On Monday, during an interview with NotiUno 630, he discussed the cancellation of his flight from Israel to Egypt.
“I’m at the airport in Tel Aviv. I’m on vacation. We were in Egypt for about five days and then we went to Jerusalem. We were supposed to leave today, and the flight was to Egypt, but they canceled it,” Santiago said. “I’m stranded at the airport and I’m still here. They won’t give us information. They have only told us that we will now have to travel to Dubai to go from there to New Jersey. It is the only option.”
The Israeli government formally declared war and gave the green light for significant military steps to retaliate against Hamas for attacking Israel over the weekend, according to mainland news reports.
Hamas formed in late 1987 at the beginning of the first Palestinian intifada (uprising). The group’s charter calls for establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel and rejects all agreements made between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israel. Hamas’ strength is concentrated in the Gaza Strip and areas of the West Bank.
As of press time Monday, the attack and retaliation had resulted in close to 1,200 deaths in Israel and Palestine. Major airlines have canceled flights to and from Tel Aviv.
On Saturday, Iberia Express canceled its operations and on Sunday Air Europa opted for the same, which has caused many passengers to be stranded there. American Airlines has also canceled operations.
Tel Aviv airport was the target of several Hamas attacks.
“Right now there were two moments of tension,” Santiago said. “We had to leave our suitcases on the first floor to take shelter on a lower floor because the alarms went off. It seems like they were bombing.”
Santiago also said he captured on video the moment on Saturday in which a projectile was intercepted by the Israeli government’s “Iron Dome” anti-missile defense system over the hotel where he stayed with his family.
“As far as I know, I don’t think fragments fell [on the hotel], he said. “But the problem is that Saturday was the Israeli Sabbath [holiday] and they didn’t know what was happening. They were in shock.”