A B.C. woman who is currently on a trip in Israel said a typical day and night in Tel Aviv turned into a nightmare.
Shauna Osten had been dancing into the early hours of Saturday morning. When she woke up just a few hours later, she noticed she had dozens of missed calls and text messages. As she began to go through them, an air-raid siren started to blow outside.
“A siren happened and I had to run to a bomb shelter,” Osten told Global News. “Things escalated really fast.”
Reality started to set in for the Vancouver woman after she arrived at a bomb shelter.
Israeli Prime Minister declares the country ‘at war’
“No one knew what was going on. A nice lady at a cafe ended up driving me to my cousin’s house because they had groceries. Ever since then, we have been in the bomb shelter,” she said.
“(Bombs) have shook the building. I was on the floor on my hands and knees praying, crying and telling my family I love them … it’s been really hard.”
Osten said she is with four other Canadian friends and an American, along with her family members who live in Tel Aviv. In total, there are nine people sheltering in a tiny room together.
“I was supposed to meet some of my Israeli friends (but) they’ve all been recruited into the army. People that haven’t been fighting for years are now fighting,” she said.
“It is very scary. My Israeli friends said this is the most unsafe they’ve ever felt.”
Israel ‘at war’ with Hamas after surprise cross-border assault kills at least 22, injures hundreds
The militant Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip have carried out an unprecedented, multifront attack on Israel, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations and catching the country off-guard on a major holiday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Israel was “at war” and called for a mass mobilization of army reserves.
The Israeli military has also confirmed that Hamas militants are holding Israeli civilians and soldiers hostage in Gaza. The military did not say how many hostages were seized, but their capture marks a major escalation in the fighting.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada strongly condemns the attacks and called for civilian life to be protected.
“These acts of violence are completely unacceptable. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to defend itself,” Trudeau wrote in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
At least 70 people have been killed and hundreds have been injured, Israel’s national rescue service said Saturday. The Israeli military struck targets in Gaza in response to some 2,500 rockets that had air-raid sirens wailing constantly as far north as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, some 80 kilometres away.
The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said at least 198 people had been killed and more than 1,610 were wounded in the territory in Israel’s retaliation after the attack.
Global Affairs Canada said in a statement Saturday at roughly 2 p.m. ET that “there are currently no signaled Canadian casualties or injuries.”
Roughly 1,418 Canadians are registered as being in Israel, with 492 being in the Palestinian territories.
Global Affairs urged anyone in the affected areas to limit their movements, remain “extremely cautious” and shelter in place until it is safe to leave the area.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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