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Colorado artist narrowly escapes war in Israel over the weekend

Topher Straus was on the beach in Israel when he heard sirens and saw missiles in the sky.
600 killed in Israel following unprecedented Hamas incursion
Golden man in Israel during war breaks out.jpg
Posted at 8:47 AM, Oct 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-09 17:56:40-04

GOLDEN, Colo. — A Golden man was in Israel when the war started over the weekend, which made it difficult for him to get a flight out. While Topher Straus is safe now, the Colorado artist wasn't sure if he was going to be able to leave Israel at one point.

Straus was in Israel working on painting a picture for the Jewish National Fund at the Colorado Convention Center and wanted to get inspiration for his work.

Throughout the trip, Straus documented what was happening on his phone saying in one video, "Ok, this is crazy, I think there are sirens going off. I just landed here in Tel Aviv and everyone is packing up and heading to the shore. I don’t know what’s going on."

Still in a active war zone, Straus eventually was able to get to the airport but then he faced challenges there. As you can imagine, most of the flights in and out of Israel got canceled with at least Delta, United and American Airlines canceling flight to the United States. Photos and video from Straus showed that most flights leaving the airport were going to Europe.

Straus said there were times the airport was packed. He experienced moments of chaos and just times of overall uncertainty. I spoke with Straus about how he felt being in the middle of an ongoing war.

"Having never experienced anything like this before, never experienced missiles going off over my head and explosions and sirens in the middle of the night and running to the bomb shelters. You know, in pharmacies, having people say, "Come, come come, and going down to underground bunkers and sleeping in fear... I'm pretty exhausted. But I feel fortunate that I haven't seen the death and carnage that a lot of this country has seen... I feel feel lucky to be an American. And to be safe."

Around 2:44 a.m. Monday, Straus sent me a text saying he is safely in Milan. Now that Straus is out of the war zone, he is one step closer to seeing his family. During his time in Israel, Straus said the people there were welcoming and compassionate, despite the ongoing war.

Colorado artist narrowly escapes war in Israel over the weekend

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