Updated Oct 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Two U.S. lawmakers leave Israel after sheltering in place during attacks

Sen. Cory Booker. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

At least two members of Congress were able to depart Israel unharmed after being present for Hamas' incursions into the country this weekend.

Why it matters: The presence of multiple high-level American political figures in the country underscores how the surprise attacks — which have escalated into a full-scale war — caught both Israel and the U.S. off guard.

Driving the news: Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), his wife and his three youngest children were in Israel for a family Bar Mitzvah when the attacks began, Goldman's spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday.

  • "Congressman Goldman and his family sheltered from Hamas rocket fire in their hotel's interior stairwell until early Sunday morning, when they were able to safely depart for New York," the statement said.
  • Goldman received assistance from both the State Department and Israeli authorities in getting out of the country, according to his spokesperson.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was also in the country for planned meetings, site visits and an economic summit where he was scheduled to speak on Tuesday, according to his office.

  • Booker and accompanying staffers were in Jerusalem when the attacks were launched and "sheltered in place for their safety," his spokesperson said in a statement.
  • Booker was "able to safely depart Israel" earlier on Sunday, the spokesperson said.

What they're saying: In a video posted to the social media X, Booker said he was jogging in Jerusalem's Old City "when I got an urgent call from my chief of staff telling me to get back to the hotel as quickly as I could — that Israel was under attack. There were thousands of rockets being launched."

  • "When I got back to the hotel I joined others in the bomb shelter or the stairwells," Booker said. "Frightened faces. There were children and elderly, families, many Americans. There was a sense of fear and worry, and a knowledge to many of us that there were horrific things going on."

The big picture: At least 700 Israelis and 413 Palestinians have died in the fighting so far, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying Sunday that several Americans may be among the dead.

  • Americans have also reportedly been taken hostage by Hamas militants along with Israelis and other foreign nationals, according to Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog.

Go deeper: Death toll rises in Israel and Gaza as fighting rages: What to know

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Sen. Cory Booker.

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