Residents of Long Island were in Israel during Hamas’s Saturday attack, officials said, which left up to 900 people dead.
Following Israeli counterattacks, Hamas retreated back into Gaza and took hostages with them.
Israel formally declared war on Hamas on Sunday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told Pres. Biden Monday that “we have to go” into Gaza, indicating that an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza is likely.
Hamas is a terrorist organization that operates mostly out of Gaza and refuses to recognize Israel as a legitimate nation.
Long Island Leaders Speak Out On Israel
Leaders and organizations across Long Island have been quick to denounce Hamas’s attack.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman — the first Jewish individual to hold the office — announced on Saturday that Nassau police would be in communication with state and federal authorities, as well as Suffolk County authorities, to monitor any uptick in antisemitic hate crime activity.
Blakeman also indicated there could have been residents of Long Island in Israel during the attack, celebrating the holiday of Simchat Torah.
“We have assigned an additional 20 police cars to make sure that all religious institutions and Jewish neighborhoods are protected,” Blakeman said at a Saturday news conference. “There are over 100 synagogues in Nassau County. There are yeshivas, and businesses. We will take appropriate action to make sure that they are secure.”
According to the Long Island Law Enforcement Foundation (LILEF), some of those individuals in Israel during the time of attack were police chiefs and law enforcement officials from Long Island, New York City, and Westchester.
“In a display of solidarity and shared commitment to peace and security, a delegation nearly 30 police chiefs and senior law enforcement officers from Westchester, Long Island, and New York City were in Israel over the weekend when Hamas initiated a devastating assault and unprovoked declaration of war on Israel,” LILEF wrote in a Facebook post. “They had arrived just 24 hours before the attack began. LILEF, the Long Island Law Enforcement Foundations extends our thoughts and prayers to our colleagues who are in Israel, and we pray for their swift and safe travel home.”
Suffolk County police confirmed to the Press that they would also be monitoring the situation.
“The Suffolk County Police Department is monitoring the ongoing situation in Israel,” the Suffolk County Police Department said in a statement. “Detectives from the Criminal Intelligence Section, in conjunction with the New York State Police, are reaching out to members of Jewish religious institutions in Suffolk. While there are currently no credible threats in Suffolk County, officers will remain vigilant and additional units will be deployed if needed. The department will remain in communication with our law enforcement partners.”
U.S. Rep. Andrew Garbarino, who represents New York’s second congressional district spanning much of Long Island’s South Shore, indicated that some of his own constituents were in Israel during the time of the attack.
“My office has been in touch with constituents who are looking for a way out of the country,” Garbarino said. “We will continue to monitor the situation, stay in contact with them, and provide any support and information we can as this develops. I condemn this horrific terrorist attack by Hamas in the strongest possible terms.”