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Americans in Israel trying to find a way out after Hamas attacks

Some Americans stranded in Israel after Hamas attack
Some Americans stranded in Israel after Hamas attack 03:03

NEW YORK -- Airlines on Saturday scrambled to cancel flights into Israel after attacks by the Hamas militant group, and American travelers there are eager to leave.

The airports are still open, but many people sheltered in place as instructed by the government.

CBS New York's Jessi Mitchell spoke to some of the locals who are trying to find a way out.

New Jersey tourist describes fleeing Israel

Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport was packed with passengers eager to flee, filled with uncertainty.

"It took four hours to get to the gate. It was a madhouse," tourist Alan Goldfarb told CBS New York.

Goldfarb arrived from New Jersey on Thursday and was supposed to start a two-week tour on Sunday. Instead, he and his sister found themselves in a bomb shelter in their hotel. Outside, the city looked like a ghost town.

He spent $2,000 for one of the last seats open on a flight back home.

"And I'm glad I did. I'm just sorry I wasn't about to ... more of the country, but I'm safe," Goldfarb said.

CNN's Nic Robertson shared his experience from the tarmac outside, where bombs rained down in the distance.

"Everyone's taking cover. They've got down," he said.

The fear was apparent in fellow travelers, cowering for cover.

New Jersey native sheltering at hotel

Tourists in Tel Aviv describe the shift in atmosphere over the past 24 hours as night and day.

New Jersey native Lauri Bader says on Friday, she was enjoying lunch outdoors with her daughter.

"Yesterday was the perfect day here in Israel. Everything was fine and calm and beautiful and busy and vibrant, normal. And then this morning, we were woken up to a siren at 7:30 and we had to go to a safe room, which is like a bomb shelter," she said.

Saturday, Bader spent the day in her hotel's bomb shelters -- a very different experience than her previous visits to the country she loves.

Americans in Israel trying to find a way out after Hamas attacks 02:16

"It's been very tumultuous, very unsettling, very upsetting, obviously. I'm not so much worried about my own safety 'cause I'm in the safety of a hotel, but I am worried about the Israelis and what they're going through right now because it's a really horrendous situation," she said. "Your heart breaks for them when you're here because it's no way to live and people have to live in fear and it's not right, and I'm getting a little taste of it and it's really, really horrible."

Like many others, Bader is scrambling to make plans to come home.

Israeli Ambassador: "We intend to be stronger, and we will prevail"

Israeli Parliament member and former deputy defense minister Ambassador Danny Danon says the attack reminds him of 50 years ago -- the Yom Kippur War.

"Again, our enemies picked our Jewish holiday, a Feast of Tabernacles, and they caught us by surprise," he said.

"What is your next step?" Mitchell asked.

"So as we speak, where we are still fighting in a few communities inside Israel, where we are fighting terrorists who took some hostages, and I hope that in the next few hours we'll be able to complete this operation to clear the area, but we know that there are still terrorists in our territories," Danon said.

He says this time felt particularly barbaric.

"They entered shelters and killed innocent, elderly women, you know. Horrible footage. And we know that, you know, when you fight evil, you have to be strong, and we intend to be stronger, and we will prevail," he said.

The Consulate General in New York released a statement saying in part that Hamas's actions are "committing multiple war crimes" despite an "extended period in which Israel endeavored to maintain peace and strengthen the economy in Gaza." They are "grateful for the unwavering and bipartisan support from allies" like the United States.

The Consulate added the people of Israel stand united, ready to take every necessary measure to safeguard the country.

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