West Hempstead native and Israeli army reservist Jo Metz is eager to get called up to her adopted country’s fight against Hamas.
Metz, 22, who moved to Israel in 2019 after high school to join the army, has been checking her phone, waiting. A call. A text message. Instructions for deployment back to duty for the Israel Defense Forces, for which she was a combat medic. She was released a year-and-a-half ago.
“If I can patch up Israeli soldiers and even armed civilians that are meeting these terrorists face to face, if I can send them back to their mothers and their families, then that’s the least I can do. That’s literally what I was trained to do, and that’s literally the least I can do for my country,” said Metz, who is now with friends in Herzliya, an Israeli city on the Mediterranean coast north of Tel Aviv, and is one of the 2,481 people who moved to Israel in 2019 from the U.S., according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics.
As of Sunday evening, there were at least 700 people killed in Israel and what the Israeli military called a "significant" number of captives taken during surprise attacks, which began on Saturday morning by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. More than 400 had been killed in Gaza in Israel's response targeting the organization.
There is at least one Long Islander who might have been captured by Hamas, according to Matthew Capp, a spokesman for Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park).
A day after the attacks, Long Island supporters of Israel — those who live here, those who have moved there, and those who were visiting — were still in shock.
When the rocket sirens began to sound farther inland, around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, former Long Islander Yoel Moskowitz, 59, was in bed. Moskowitz, who lived in Lawrence for 25 years and moved with his wife, Shira, to Jerusalem in 2020, checked his phone. He then took refuge in a long, windowless hallway in his apartment in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem, which abuts the mixed Arab and Jewish neighborhood of Abu Tor. He's been staying indoors for the most part, except for a quick trip to start his car Sunday afternoon. His wife is in Los Angeles visiting her mom.
Even as the initial astonishment has abated, Moskowitz said, he’s concerned about calls to arms, such as one issued by Hamas' military commander urging Arabs in Israel to “set the earth on fire under the feet of the occupiers.”
“What’s going through my mind now is not so much that I’m going to get kidnapped or be the victim of a terror attack a la the ones that happened yesterday," he said on Sunday. "I’m more concerned right now about lone-wolf attacks from Palestinian Israeli Arabs that will take literally the call to action from Hamas and Iran to take whatever weapons they have at home and go out and kill Jews.”
As of Monday morning in Israel, there were no known reports of lone-wolf attacks.
Elsewhere in Jerusalem, Saturday’s attacks also made for a harrowing experience for tourists like Neil Mordowitz of Woodmere, who was on a trip with his extended family to the city.
Last year, there were 810,400 American tourist arrivals in Israel, according to the country's Ministry of Tourism.
On this trip, Mordowitz and other guests were moved to the lowest level of their hotel, considered a safe room.
“There were many, many air raid sirens and many explosions in the sky as well,” Mordowitz, 45, a computer programmer, told Newsday by phone as he waited on line at Ben Gurion Airport to get a flight back to the United States.
He added: “No one knew what was going on. No one knew if we could even leave the building.”
Mordowitz was with his wife and four children, who range in age from 12 to 20, as well as with his parents and in-laws. The family already had tickets for a return flight to New York.
The couple's 18-year-old son, who is studying for a year in Israel, is staying there for now.
"People are really scared and they don’t know what to do," Mordowitz said.
Capp and Kristen Cianci, a spokeswoman for Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport), said both congressmen had constituents trying to return to the United States.
On Sunday in New York City, dueling rallies mustered in parts of midtown Manhattan, sometimes with shouting and tense confrontations.
"BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY," read one sign held skyward by Palestinian supporters. "DECOLONIZATION IS NOT A METAPHOR," read another.
At a nearby rally in favor of the Jewish state, there were Israeli flags and signs too: "ISRAEL UNDER ATTACK," said one written on cardboard.
Later, about 200 people gathered for a pro-Israel rally at the MakomNY congregation in Bethpage.
"In 75 years, Israel has never experienced the terror, the horror, she's experiencing now," said Rabbi Deborah Bravo, the congregation's leader.
And over 5,500 miles away, Metz, the Israeli reservist from Long Island, said she doesn’t want to have to wait to go back into the military.
“I’ve been trying myself to reach out. I called my old commander. He says that he’ll call me if he needs me. I reached out to an officer that I know: I asked her if she can put me somewhere. There are actually group chats of people looking for medics, so I asked if I could go,” said Metz, who still has family in Nassau County. “But it’s very disorganized right now. So information is so scattered. I just have to wait for an answer.”