At least two members of Congress—Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY)—were in Israel when Hamas attacked Saturday.
Booker’s office said the Senator had arrived in Israel on Friday ahead of a summit on the Abraham Accords—the 2020 peace agreement between Israel and several Arab nations—at which he was scheduled to speak Tuesday.
“Senator Booker and accompanying staff were in Jerusalem when Hamas launched their attacks against Israel on Saturday, and sheltered in place for their safety,” spokesperson Maya Krishna-Rogers said in a statement. “We are grateful that Senator Booker and our colleagues were able to safely depart Israel earlier today.”
On social media, Booker wrote, “My team and I are now safe, but like many we are shaken, angered, and heartbroken by the hundreds killed, the thousands injured, those taken hostage, and all who are directly affected by these sickening terrorist attacks.”
He further stated that he “emphatically condemn(s) Hamas horrific acts of violence, kidnapping and terror…”
Rep. Goldman and his family were in Israel for a Bar Mitzvah, according to his office. “Congressman Goldman and his family sheltered from Hamas rocket fire in their hotel’s interior stairwell until early Sunday morning, when they were able to safely depart for New York,” spokesperson Simone Kanter said in a statement.
On NBC’s “TODAY” show Monday morning, Goldman described his family waking up waking up to sirens wailing and sheltering in a stairwell Saturday during their visit to Tel Aviv.
“I had never heard [the sirens] before. My kids had no idea what was going on. We woke up and sort of scrambled and ran to the stairwell on the Saturday morning. That happened several more times as rocket fire was coming towards Tel Aviv. It happened again in the evening,” Goldman said.
Israel formally declared war on Hamas on Sunday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing to take “mighty vengeance” on Hamas for the attack.
President Biden on Sunday spoke with Netanyahu, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant. Both U.S. leaders promised aid, including an aircraft carrier and several other military ships, to assist Israel.
“At a minimum, Congress must replenish—and expand—the Iron Dome as soon as possible,” Goldman posted on social media early Sunday morning, referring to Israel’s defense system against rockets. “I hope Republicans can get their House in order so we can pass emergency legislation to assist Israel in defending herself.”