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Florida leaders and organizations respond to and condemn Hamas attacks in Israel

Florida leaders and organizations respond to and condemn Hamas attacks in Israel
Florida leaders and organizations respond to and condemn Hamas attacks in Israel 03:24

MIAMI — Public figures and groups from both sides of the aisle in Florida have come in support of Israel after at least 600 people died in an unprecedented Hamas attack on Saturday.

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Hamas, the ruling militant group in the Gaza Strip, carried out a multi-front attack on Israel at daybreak Saturday, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of their fighters infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations by air, land and sea, catching the country off-guard during the major holiday Simchat Torah — a day when Jewish people complete the annual cycle of reading the Torah scroll.

In a televised address to the country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a mass mobilization of Israel's army reserves.

"We are at war," he said. "Not an 'operation,' not a 'round' but a war."

Back in the United States, one of Israel's biggest allies, many American politicians and other public figures have spoken up and shared their support for Israel in the wake of the attack, including a number of Floridians.

CBS News Miami's Morgan Rynor spoke with Maor Elbaz-Starinsky — the Consul General of Israel in Miami — who really put the attacks into perspective, saying that 300 casualties in a country as small as Israel are equivalent to 7,000 people being killed in the U.S. and called Saturday's assault the country's "9/11."

"Anybody who aligned with [Hamas] will pay the consequences," he said. "We're at war. Have no mistake: this is war. And in a war — in this war — we will win."

Elbaz-Starinsky also thanked President Joe Biden for expressing his support of Israel, who said in a televised address Saturday afternoon that the U.S. stands with the country.

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25) released an email statement in reaction, calling it an "outrageous, heinous attack."

"Israel is at war, not by choice, and has every right to defend itself and its people against this barbarous onslaught," she said. "The United States stands in solidarity with Israel not only during this tragic day but every day."

Wasserman-Schultz also said that she would work with her congressional colleagues and the Biden administration to ensure Israel has the resources to repel the "cowardly terrorists."

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (FL-24) said in an email statement that the attacks were "brazen acts of violence" that demanded the "strongest condemnation."

"Democratic nations worldwide must unite to support Israel, as unity is our strength in the face of united terrorism," she stated.

Wilson added:

"Israel stands as the United States' closest friend and ally, and our nation's strength is intertwined with theirs. My prayers are with the people of Israel today, and as Israel prepares for war in these dark hours, the United States stands ready to support Israel's right to defend itself. Our commitment to Israel is unwavering."

The City of Miami gave an email statement on Sunday afternoon, saying that it fly its flags outside of City Hall at half-staff in solidarity with Israel.

"The City of Miami extends its condolences and well wishes to the people of Israel during this most difficult time," it stated. "We are in contact with local clergy and have expressed our support."

The City of Miami also stated:

"As always, the safety of our residents, visitors, and stakeholders is our highest priority. We join Miami-Dade County and other local municipalities in encouraging the community to continue maintaining [vigilance]."

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava shared her sentiment about the attacks, saying that the county stands with the Israeli people.

"I am deeply shocked and heartbroken at the news of attacks on Israeli civilians and the senseless acts of violence by Hamas terrorists, as Israel celebrated a Jewish holiday," she said.

Cava added: "These heinous acts of violence must come to an end to protect innocent lives."

APTOPIX Israel Palestinians
Cars burn after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a parking lot and a residential building in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. The rockets were fired as Hamas announced a new operation against Israel. Tsafrir Abayov / AP

Senator Rick Scott released an email statement as well on Saturday, saying that the U.S. stands with Israel.

"Israelis are dying today at the hands of Iran-backed terrorists," he stated. "President Joe Biden, and every American ally and partner, must swiftly condemn this invasion and acts of war by Hamas terrorists and the Iranian regime which supports their murderous attacks."

Scott released an additional statement Sunday morning, calling upon the Gulf Nations to condemn the attacks and publically support Israel.

"This attack was more evil and complex than ever before and requires the world to react in united support of Israel," he stated. "I am calling on all Abraham Accords and Gulf Council nations, including Saudi Arabia, to condemn these atrocities against Israel and publicly support the Israeli people."

Senator Marco Rubio also condemned the "horrific" attacks, pledging his support for Israel and that he and his wife Jeanette are praying for the victims.

"We need to support our ally Israel in its response because it is in America's national interest that Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists are defeated," he stated.

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation also released a statement regarding the attacks, and that it has created an Israel Emergency Fund in response and keeping in close contact with their overseas partners.

"We condemn the assault in the strongest possible terms and recognize that Israel's only plausible response is to rightfully pursue a comprehensive aggressive strategy to restore calm to the region," it stated. "The surprise on the nation brings traumatizing resonance to the people of Israel, who this week are commemorating 50 years since the Yom Kippur War."

 The federation added:

"No country should be asked to tolerate a barrage of thousands of rockets or militant infiltration to murder, kidnap or injure innocent civilians. Let us be unquestionably clear: These are tactics used by terror organizations whose goal is to wipe Israel off the map. The Jewish people and Israel will once again prevail."

Representative Lois Frankel (FL-22) also released an email statement, saying that she is "horrified and outraged" about the attacks.

"No question, I stand firmly with Israel," she said. "Terrorism is unacceptable."

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued an email statement, calling the attacks "no less than war crimes."

"We call on responsible members of the international community to take concrete actions both in support of Israel and against those who support the Palestinian terrorists," the ADL stated. "We send our condolences to the families of the murdered and wishes for a speedy recovery to those wounded. We stand with Israel."

The escalation of events comes after weeks of heightened tensions along Israel's border with Gaza and heavy fighting in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It also comes at a delicate time for Netanyahu's far-right government, with hundreds of soldiers in the military reserves either pulled out of training sessions or promising they won't report for duty over the government's deeply divisive plan to weaken the Supreme Court.

The attack comes at a time of historic division within Israel over Netanyahu's proposal to overhaul the judiciary. Mass protests over the plan have sent hundreds of thousands of Israeli demonstrators into the streets and prompted hundreds military reservists to avoid volunteer duty — turmoil that has raised fears over the military's battlefield readiness and raised concerns about its deterrence over its enemies.  

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