The surprise attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists on Saturday stunned the world as hundreds of civilians were killed and others taken hostage – with many of the atrocities filmed for the world to see.
Israel declared war after Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists invaded southern Israel and launched rockets from the Gaza Strip.
As of Wednesday morning, at least 1,000 Israelis have been killed, 22 Americans are reported dead, and at least 2,700 Israelis are injured.
With the war in full swing, Fox News Digital spoke with Jared Armstrong, a Jewish American playing professional basketball in Israel, who described how he learned of the attack.
Armstrong says his coach called him around 6:30 a.m. to tell him to remain in his room as rockets were expected, which Armstrong said typically only last a “day or two.”
“As the day progressed, I would say an hour later, I heard the first one, the first boom,” Armstrong said. “Because I’m not too far from Gaza where the team I’m playing for [is]. I got a little bit nervous after that one because it started coming closer. I took a video because one was like 100 feet from my apartment. So, it could have easily hit us.”
“Then, I went to a teammate’s room because I’m here with no family, just a bunch of friends and teammates.”
Armstrong told his teammate it was time to get out of the city, which is roughly 20 minutes from Gaza. A friend of Armstrong’s, who plays for another Israeli team, called Armstrong to tell him to come to his place north of Tel Aviv to get away from the attack.
“No bombs have hit where I’m at,” Armstrong said of his current living situation. “We get the sirens, and we run into the safe house, but other than that, there hasn’t been any rockets or missiles that actually have landed where I’m at.”
As the Israeli military continues to respond to Saturday’s attack, the country is also facing a threat from Hezbollah along its northern border.
Israeli forces have launched rockets into southern Lebanon, striking Hezbollah forces after the terror group fired anti-tank missiles across the border, initially hitting Israeli soldiers, officials said.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said Wednesday that the Israeli army shelled the Lebanese border town of Duhaira and the surrounding area where the missile attack came from.
For those simply trying to live within Israel as the war rages, life is nowhere close to normal.
“The best way I could say it is: Try to stay alive,” Armstrong told Fox News Digital when asked about day-to-day life in Israel. “Be smart about what you want to do. For me, I just try to stay in the house as much as I can, though obviously, you have to find a way to get groceries, all that type of stuff. But your daily living is done for the time being. Safety-wise, it just isn’t smart. You don’t really know where Hamas is in Israel because they did get inside of Israel. And I know they’re consistently trying to catch them at night.”
“For me, I just try to stay in the house, try to stay safe. We pretty much order food or go pick it up and come right back home,” Armstrong continued.
Israel has called up 300,000 military reservists to respond to the Hamas-led terror attack and invasion from the Gaza Strip, the largest-ever draft for Israel.
“Personally, with having individuals in the house who are Israeli and are from here, they just feel this is a necessary step they have to do to protect their country, protect their people,” Armstrong said when asked about the morale of the Israeli people. “I think that’s most important first is the safety. If they don’t fight, Hamas is going to keep coming until they try to kill everyone. So, it’s kind of just a by-any-means-necessary type of mentality to get things done.”
“The IDF and the U.S. have done a great job trying to protect as many Israelis as possible. I think the morale of the country is obviously very down and sad, and it’s unprecedented what’s happened. So many people have lost their families and lost their loved ones. I’ve had friends that lost relatives. So, it’s tough, and I think it’s going to take a long time for people to even feel sane again.”
Armstrong was supposed to start his season with his team, Elizur Ashkelon, on Friday, which is now up in the air.
“I was supposed to have my first game on Friday. We had a bunch of scrimmages for the last month,” Armstrong said.
“It’s just a bunch of uncertainty,” he continued. “I think Americans have to understand and have a little bit of compassion for a lot of players that live in America here. We don’t know our next job, our next move. We don’t know if the league is going to even start up. There’s just a lot of uncertainty. There are players that are trying to figure out how they’re going to make money over the next couple of months because they may be stuck in Israel, or they may be in another country for the time being – just sitting [and] waiting.”
Armstrong, who has Jewish lineage on his mother’s side, has been in Israel for most of the past three years as he attempted to obtain his Israeli citizenship. Armstrong was granted temporary residence in May, according to The Times of Israel.
Armstrong runs basketball camps when he is back in the United States, and he started a nonprofit called JAB Camps over the summer, which looks to “combat antisemitism and racism through sport.”
“Bringing kids from all different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds together through basketball to help them understand unity through diversity,” Armstrong told Fox News Digital. “I think sports is the best way to do it at such a young age.”
Fox News’ Lawrence Richard and Ashlyn Messier contributed to this report.