New York governor begins trip in Israel, plans to meet families

 New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to reporters, June 7, 2023, in Albany, N.Y. Hochul arrived in Israel on Wednesday, Oct. 18, to begin a trip intended to show support for the country during its war with Hamas. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul arrived in Israel on Wednesday to begin a trip intended to show support for the country during its war with Hamas.

The Democratic governor landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv around 5:40 p.m. with a group of state police officers and top aides, according to a pool report.

Hochul was expected to receive a security briefing at the airport then travel about 30 minutes away to meet with families. She will then head to a food pantry to help pack and drop off boxes for people who have had to move because of the conflict. From there, Hochul will be taken to Jerusalem, where she will stay for the night.


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Shortly after Biden's remarks, Israel confirmed food, water and medicine would begin to flow into Gaza from Egypt.

Hochul said her trip is meant to be a gesture of solidary and support for Israel. New York is home to the largest Jewish population of any U.S. city, according to the American Jewish Population Project at Brandeis University.

"There is a deep, direct connection between New York state and Israel that has always been there, a bond steeled over decades," Hochul said. 

"The community feels, in Israel and in New York, that my going during these times will be the most significant symbol of their importance to us than anything else we could do," she said.

The war that began Oct. 7 has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said Wednesday that 3,478 Palestinians have been killed and more than 12,000 injured in the past 11 days.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, and at least 199 others, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.


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Hamas blamed an Israeli airstrike for the incident, while the Israeli military said the hospital was hit by a rocket fired by Islamic Jihad, a smaller Palestinian militant group allied to Hamas. The health ministry said at least 500 people were killed.

The start of Hochul's visit comes a day after a massive blast at a Gaza City hospital killed hundreds of people.

Hochul has said she wanted to ensure Israel has the resources to protect their citizens, while also allowing Gazan civilians to get the humanitarian assistance they need, as long as it would not benefit Hamas.

"It is still my strong position that Israel must defend itself against terrorism, or else terrorism will know no boundaries, and we have seen what terrorism looks and feels like in our own city streets," she said during a press briefing Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Hochul said Wednesday that they don’t have an exact number on how many New Yorkers are stuck in either Israel or Palestine because of the conflict.