TAMPA, Fla. - Israel’s General Consul of Florida visited Tampa Bay on Monday to share an update on the Israel-Hamas war and speak with the Jewish community.
Maor Elbaz-Starinsky is the Consul General serving Florida, Kansas, Missouri and Puerto Rico. Elbaz-Starinsky also shared some of the graphic images and videos from the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7.
He said the attacks remind him of some of the cruelest acts in history.
"This act of Hamas reminds me more of the Nazi death squad that were roaming Europe in the beginning of WWII, and wherever they went, they just gathered all the Jews, looking at the mothers holding their infants in their arms, and murdering them," Elbaz-Starinsky said.
"We will not allow the citizens of Israel to live under this threat and under this menace anymore," Elbaz-Starinsky stated.
The Consul General said he’s spoken to nearly a dozen Israeli families who have come to Florida, desperate for help in finding loved ones who were taken hostage by Hamas.
Elbaz-Starinsky said some of those family members who had been taken hostage were among the ones freed on Monday.
Elbaz-Starinsky wants as many hostages as possible to be freed.
Some of the other discoveries they’ve made in the search for missing Israeli citizens are haunting.
"Some of the bodies are nowhere to be found," Elbaz-Starinsky shared. "Last week we found a tooth, a tooth, of somebody we thought was kidnapped or just missing. A tooth. That’s all remained from a whole life."
Members of the Jewish community and leaders in Tampa gathered to witness some of the graphic images and videos of the Hamas attacks.
"This was an atrocity, slaughtering of innocent people," Jonathan Ellis, the Chairman of the Jewish Community Relations Council said.
Starinsky said villages and areas in Israel were destroyed by the attacks.
"We will have to rebuild certain parts of Israel, especially the Gaza envelope. 30 villages have been ruined, demolished, devastated," Elbaz-Starinsky said.
The Jewish community in Tampa watched videos and photos.
Israel and Hamas agreed to extend the ceasefire for two more days. Elbaz-Starinsky is hopeful they can free as many hostages in this time as possible.
"200 people with lives, with dreams," Elbaz-Starinsky said.
He said they understand that this gives Hamas time to rearm and regroup, but they’re committed to freeing as many Israeli hostages as quickly as they can.
"We are determined, determined as one can be determined or anything to release to get everybody back home," Elbaz-Starinsky explained. "And we know it comes with a price."
Starinsky said Israel is committed to international humanitarian law and the laws of warfare.