Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday night vowed New York supports the fight to restore peace in Israel and intensified airstrikes to destroy Hamas — the Palestinian terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip — after hundreds of innocent civilians were killed and kidnapped in Saturday's early-morning surprise attacks.
Hundreds of people Monday crowded into Congregation Beth Emeth reform synagogue in Albany to hold a communitywide "Stand with Israel" rally as violence in the Middle East escalates, and Israel has sealed off food, fuel and other supplies to Gaza in retaliation.
“Yes, there will be a war, but it will be a just war,” Hochul said Monday night. “Mark my words, I assure you as the governor I will make sure that we leave no stone unturned to find out how we can make sure that every single one of you is safe when you gather, because that is your God-given right to exercise your belief, your religion, your true identity."
Continuing attacks between Israelis and the Palestinians has led to the slaughter of more than 1,600 people in the last two days. President Joe Biden on Monday said that figure includes at least 11 Americans, with others believed to be among hostages held captive by Hamas.
Israel's flag was raised above the Governor's Executive Mansion in Albany on Monday. The Israeli flag will fly atop the state Capitol starting Wednesday, Hochul said.
People from around the Capital Region attended Monday night's pro-Israel rally, including U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, Assemblymembers Pat Fahy, John McDonald III and Phil Steck, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and other local officials in support of aid for the injured or kidnapped. Many people remain unaccounted for.
"Think about having just come through the holy days, family, friends ... They gather. They dance, they have concerts; they're at peace with who they are, until the forces of evil intervene," Hochul said. "Jews have been persecuted for their belief and being the chosen people of God throughout history. Antisemitism is not a 21st Century phenomenon."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Israel is at war following the weekend attack, and on Monday warned the nation will not hesitate to devastate generations to dismantle the radical group.
Meanwhile, Hamas militants have threatened to kill hostages and prisoners.
Monday's rally in the capital city follows dueling rallies held in several American cities Sunday, including a clash in New York City with factions of the Democratic Socialists of America that rallied in support of the liberation of Palestine from Israeli sanctions, killings of Palestinians apartheid.
The synagogue had heightened security throughout Monday night's rally, hosted by the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, with Albany city police officers and cars surrounding the property for several hours.
No protestors attended Monday, but a local Palestinian Rights Committee has scheduled a rally in support of Palestinian resistance in Albany late Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, Hochul said Monday's Columbus Day holiday is typically a day of reflection or celebration in the state, but instead, was marred by New Yorkers affected by grief and concern in the wake of the deepening conflict.
"This is a time for a community to come together in person, and to hug, and to touch, and to be so human, and to think about the people halfway across the world who are suffering tonight," Hochul said. "We are all suffering with them. Prayers are important. Keep them in your prayers, but by being out here tonight, you hold a candle high, they'll see across the world to know that we are with Israel."