EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Pasoan Lori Gaman and her Jewish family, who arrived in Israel last week for a long-awaited trip, now find themselves in the middle of a war zone after Hamas launched multiple attacks on Israel last weekend. 

Gaman describes the moment when sirens began to sound across the city of Tel Aviv early Saturday morning, Oct. 7.

“At about 6:30 that morning, we heard sirens from our hotel room. And, you know, we’re like looking at each other. Was that what we just heard? Was that what we think it is?” Gaman said.

Gaman and her sister, Linda Schuster, had long been planning the “best trip” for their 84-year-old father, who said he’d “love” to visit Israel.

The sisters arrived with their spouses, their father and his wife on Tuesday, Oct. 3, and spent the following three days in a spa in Shaharut, before arriving in Tel Aviv on Friday.  

The six of them remained in their hotel the following days adapting to their situation, and learned how to seek shelter when the sirens went off. 

“You have 90 seconds to get to a shelter. And so, you hear the sirens, and everybody just immediately gets up and goes and then you start talking to people in the stairwell. As you’re climbing down the stairs to the garage, you’re trying to help one another. Just be safe and get down there,” said Gaman. 

As international airlines began suspending all flights out of Israel, their options to escape began to dwindle.

Gaman says they were able to communicate with the U.S. Embassy and U.S. representatives but said they both responded by saying “We’re watching the situation but there are no plans to evacuate Americans at this time.”

Amid all the uncertainty, Gaman describes how she, and her family have coped with their situation.

“You really find strength when you think you least have it. And, you know, we’re not in a good situation, but we’re making the best of it. We’re all trying to be levelheaded and just keep our wits about us,” Gaman said. 

Just last night, Gaman’s father and his wife were able to fly out of Tel Aviv, through El Al Israeli Airlines, one of the few airlines that continues to operate as their carriers are flying people into Israel to serve in the war.

Gaman, her sister and their spouses will be flying out to Budapest tomorrow through the same airline, inching closer to a safe return home.