Israeli father, Wayzata man with connections to Israel discuss attack by Hamas militants

Minnesotans with ties to Israel and politicians react to attack on country

Minnesotans and federal politicians representing the state react to the attack in Israel Saturday morning.

The videos from halfway around the world, are harrowing.   

One shows a desperate search for survivors at a rocket impact site in Tel Aviv, Israel. In another, Hamas fighters can be seen streaming into Israeli towns along the border with Gaza.

Yet a third shows armed rockets, streaming through the skies, heading toward Israeli cities.

“We were surprised. And the death toll is staggering, staggering,” declared Ari Sacher, an Israeli citizen who spoke to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on a Zoom call. “The vast majority of people that were killed, slaughtered, are civilians. This is not a military attack in any way, shape, or form. This is terror, plain and simple.”

Sacher is referring to the massive, surprise attack by Hamas Saturday morning. Israeli media is reporting hundreds have been killed, more than eleven hundred are injured, and at least fifty people have been kidnapped.

Hamas is claiming it’s fired more than 5,000 rockets and long-range missiles from Gaza, hitting four cities in southern Israel.

ABC News says the militant group is sending armed fighters from the blockaded Gaza strip into nearby Israeli towns.

RELATED: Hamas surprise attack out of Gaza stuns Israel and leaves hundreds dead in fighting, retaliation

“Hamas has been seeking the obliteration of Israel since 1988. It’s in its charter,” notes Mitchel Chargo, the President of the Wayzata-based Institute for Holocaust Research & Education.

Chargo says he’s been to Israel 17 times and has been speaking with friends there.  

“The civilians of Israel this time were the targets of this attack,” he says. “So, you have women and children who were specifically targeted by Hamas dragged out of their homes and taken hostage. Hundreds, I think the count is over two hundred fifty, murdered in their own homes and villages around Gaza.”

“They’re firing on civilians. They went into towns, and they just shot up towns,” Sacher adds. “There was a party in a field, where people slept over. It’s a nature party, the word they use in Israel, and they just came and shot it up. There were tents of people that were just shot dead.”  

The attack happened during a religious holiday in Israel. That country, responding with airstrikes in Gaza.

RELATED: Jewish diaspora mourns attack on Israel, but carries on by celebrating holidays

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared Israel to be at war, and that the military will use all its strength to destroy Hamas’ capabilities and “take revenge for this black day. This war will take time. It will be difficult.”

“I think people in the government now understand that force must be answered with force,” Sacher, an Israeli defense contractor, says. “I think the next week is going to be a complex week in Israel.”

He explains he has several children in the reserves, who’ve been called up to active duty.

“There was such a wide swath of Israeli population dropping off people to meet for reserve duty, it was heartwarming,” he says. “No one likes when they have children in the army, but in Israel, it’s a part of life.”

At the White House, President Biden condemned the attack.

“The United States stands with Israel,” he said. “We will not ever fail to have their back. Israel has the right to defend itself and its people, full stop.”

RELATED: Biden decries the ‘unconscionable’ Hamas attack and warns Israel’s enemies not to exploit the crisis

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Political leaders in Minnesota also voiced their support.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) issued a statement which read, “The violence being perpetrated against Israeli citizens is horrific and gut-wrenching. The United States stands with Israel.”

Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minnesota) released a statement saying, “This attack on Israel is shocking and horrifying, and I pray and grieve with the families who have lost their loved ones.”  

Both Sacher and Chargo believe Israel will respond with overwhelming force.

“You can take women and children hostage. You can murder families in their homes. We can do better,” Chargo says. “My hope is that whatever the operation that the Israeli government and the military is undertaking will be designed to prevent something like this from ever happening again.”