Antonio M. Romero
Monday, 9 October 2023, 11:22
First the sirens went off, and Cristina Márquez and Francisco Javier from Malaga just thought it was a fire alarm, but then missiles started raining down from the sky and the ground began to shake.
This was the scary account of the couple from the province who were at Tel Aviv airport when it came under attack from Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Saturday 7 October. "At that moment, together with other guests of the hotel where we were staying, we went down to the bunker to take shelter in it. Our feeling was that we were in a nightmare," the couple said.
The conflict has already left at least 1,000 dead and 100 military and civilian hostages kidnapped. At the time of the attack, Márquez was in Tel Aviv, the city where another Malaga native, Luna Wahnon, a mother of three who has lived in Israel for nine years and works in a software company, lives. "The sirens kept going off and that's not normal, so we thought something was going on. At first there was bewilderment until we realised what was happening in our country," she told SUR over the phone.
Hamas had strategically chosen a Jewish holiday for the attack where civilians had been celebrating Sukkot, the festival of joy on Saturday.
"The first feeling I had was one of disgust and I wondered what had happened to cause this lack of security. That feeling, as I got to know what had happened, turned into pain at what was happening. What Hamas has done is not a war, it is a massacre, a genocide where they have killed families, kidnapped young people, children... Now, as the hours go by, the feeling we have is one of hope. Although the human losses can no longer be recovered, Israel is a strong and united country; we will surely get out of this situation," Wahnon said.
Despite the ongoing tensions in the country due to the Gaza Strip conflict, Wahnon has never thought of leaving Israel to return to Spain. "I'm staying here, where my children are. At this time, unity and faith are the most important things," she added.
The threat at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport caused many cancellations of both incoming and outgoing flights. The situation affected thousands of people, among them Cristina Márquez, who was due to return to Malaga on Sunday 8 October, but was told there would not be another departure with the airline she was flying with until 12 October. "When they told us, we looked for flights other companies. We managed to find a flight to Berlin, but it was overbooked and we were left on the ground, so we had to search. Then we found another one to Barcelona for which we paid 900 dollars. But when we had already passed the security check, they cancelled it and now we are back to square one. We go from counter to counter looking for a flight back to Spain," she said.
Asked if they had contacted the embassy, Márquez said that they were told to stay in a hotel until they could find a flight. "But we don't want to move from the airport. Firstly because we have to leave from here and secondly because it is a safe place; they say it is the safest airport in the world," said the Malaga woman. Her case is similar to that of thousands of people who are trying to get out of Israel. "They are people of many nationalities and also Israelis who do not feel safe," Márquez added.
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