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State, federal officials rally behind Israel after attacks

A massive attack by Hamas militants in Israel has killed over 1,400 and led to one of the worst conflicts in that region in decades, and the north country’s representatives from the state to the federal level all rallied behind the Israelis.

Late Saturday, news of a major coordinated attack by Hamas militants broke. According to international media reports, Hamas militants from the Palestinian enclave of Gaza broke through the fortified border with Israel in multiple places. They attacked neighborhoods, military bases and a music festival during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, apparently catching Israeli Defense Force officials by surprise.

Hundreds of Israelis have died or been kidnapped by the militants, with more reported as the military continues to fight the incursion.

Shortly after the news of the attack broke in the U.S., Congresswoman Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, issued statements standing in support of Israel and promising to support defense aid to the country.

“I stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli people and remain committed to ensuring that they have the support and resources they need to defend themselves,” Stefanik said.

Congresswoman Claudia L. Tenney, R-Canandaigua, has introduced legislation to provide more U.S. defense aid to the Israeli “Iron Dome” defense system, which protects the country from rocket attacks. According to international media reports, the system intercepted about 90% of the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel on Saturday when the attacks began.

“I call on my colleagues on both sides to join me and quickly bring this bill to the floor,” Tenney said. “I also call on President Biden to use the powers granted to him by Congress to provide Israel the resources she needs for ‘Operation Swords of Iron.'”

The Republican fight for leadership in the House of Representatives has left the chamber without a Speaker for nearly a week, meaning Tenney’s bill and any other legislation to address the conflict in Israel or any other issue cannot be brought to a floor vote.

Tenney’s opponent for the Republican nomination for Congress in the 24th District, Mario J. Fratto, also issued a statement on Saturday. He took the chance to criticize President Joseph R. Biden, saying his administration has weakened the U.S. on the world stage and empowered its enemies to attack internationally. He said the Biden administration has sent financial aid to Hamas and Iran, which supports the group. The Biden administration recently released $6 billion it was holding from an Iranian oil deal it stopped with South Korea, and has provided about half a billion in development aid to Gaza, although it’s not apparent any federal money has gone to Hamas.

“In contrast to Claudia Tenney, I will introduce legislation to prohibit federal aid to Iran and terrorist organizations like Hamas,” he said. “I stand with our ally Israel in their fight against terrorism, and I will always support Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas’ brutality.”

Governor Kathy Hochul also issued a statement supporting Israel, and denounced a plan by Democratic Socialists of America members to protest in support of Palestine and Gaza in Times Square on Sunday.

“I condemn plans to rally in Times Square tomorrow in support of the perpetrators of these horrific actions,” she said. “The planned rally is abhorrent and morally repugnant.”

That protest went on Sunday, with pro-Palestine protesters facing off against pro-Israel protesters in New York and other major American cities on Sunday.

The governor on Sunday morning spoke with the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, to stress New York’s continued support of Israel, which she called “unwavering. She said she also spoke with President Herzog about the safety of New Yorkers who remain in Israel during the conflict, and is directing state agencies to develop plans to secure the safe return of any New Yorkers who wish to leave Israel.

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