Delaware Valley leaders voice support for Israel as it declares war following surprise attack from Hamas

New Jersey’s attorney general said law enforcement will be increasing patrols in “sensitive areas” out of an “abundance of caution.”

Palestinians inspect the rubble in Rafah refugee camp, Gaza Strip

Palestinians inspect the rubble in Rafah refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. The strike killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

State leaders in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware are reiterating their support for Israel as its government declares war following a surprise attack from Hamas.

On Saturday, the Palestinian militant group launched a large-scale attack on civilian and Israeli military targets from the Gaza Strip. The escalation occurred on the Jewish Sabbath and the Simchat Torah holiday a day after the 50th anniversary of the start of the Yom Kippur War.

Israel has since conducted hundreds of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip — hitting apartment buildings and Hamas members’ homes. More than 300 Palestinians have been killed, including children, and more than 2,000 have been injured.

Delaware Valley leaders react

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said law enforcement will be increasing patrols in “sensitive areas — particularly houses of worship for both the Jewish and Islamic faiths” out of an “abundance of caution.”

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“While it is always our hope that the High Holidays can be celebrated freely and openly without fear, the reality is that growing extremism and antisemitism across the country requires that we remain vigilant and focused on combating hate at what is a joyous time for the Jewish community,” Platkin said in a written statement.

In a separate statement, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said “the world must unequivocally condemn terrorism against innocent civilians.”

“As a state with one of the largest Jewish and Israeli American communities in the world, today’s news is especially hard to fathom,” Murphy said. “As Governor, I stand with the people of Israel in this dark hour in a united show of resolve against terrorism. I have stood with Israel since the first day of my Administration and have proudly visited four times as Governor. It is a country we hold dear to our hearts, sharing an unbreakable bond with New Jersey.”

Delaware Gov. John Carney said on social media, “Delawareans stand with our friends in Israel and we strongly condemn these violent terrorist attacks that are targeting innocent people.”

On Monday, U.S. Senator John Fetterman released a statement saying in part he supports “Israel neutralizing the terrorists responsible for this barbarism.”

“We now know this was a wide-scale, premeditated, cowardly, terrorist campaign against Israeli civilians that also claimed the lives of American citizens,” Fetterman said. “I unequivocally support any necessary military, intelligence, and humanitarian aid to Israel. The United States has a moral obligation to be in lockstep with our ally as they confront this threat.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro also condemned the attack on social media, calling it “abhorrent” and warrants “world condemnation and outrage.”

“Our family has shared many special moments in Israel and our hearts break for those living this horror now,” Shapiro said. “We stand in solidarity against terror and are praying for all people in Israel.”

In a statement to WHYY News, Ahmet Tekelioglu, the executive director of CAIR-Philadelphia, a Muslim advocacy coalition, called on the governor to meet with Palestinian and Muslim leadership in the state “who have long advocated for full human rights and dignity in the Holy Land, for all.”

Tekelioglu also said Shapiro should “be able to acknowledge the humanity of Palestinian people living under occupation and the abhorrent conditions that Israeli governments have subjected them to.”

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The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia said it is “deeply saddened and outraged” by Hamas’ attack and will “stand in solidarity with the people of Israel.”

“We unequivocally condemn these acts of violence and terror against the State of Israel,” the statement said in part. “The deliberate targeting of innocent civilians and using human shields by Hamas is unacceptable and must be condemned by the international community, especially as Israel works to defend itself against these attacks.”

More than 600 Israeli civilians, including women and children, and soldiers were killed in the surprise attack, with more than 1,800 injured. The Palestinian Ministry of Health on Sunday evening said 413 people were killed in Gaza following military strikes by Israel, and another 2,300 were injured.

Roughly 2 million Palestinians live on the Gaza Strip. For more than 16 years, the area has been under a blockade by Israel and Egypt that restricts the movement of people and goods in and out of the country.

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