• Israel, Hamas tensions impact families in metro Atlanta


    ATLANTA - The conflict between Israel and Hamas is causing travel problems in metro Atlanta.

    All flights to Israel are suspended as fighting continues in the region.

    On Tuesday night, Channel 2's Rachel Stockman spoke to George Birnbaum. He was anxiously waiting for his relatives to arrive in Atlanta from Israel.

    “They have young kids – 4 and 7-year-old kids – who haven't had a summer vacation. They've been in bomb shelters for most of the summer, so we said you know what, come to Atlanta. At least you can enjoy what is left of the summer here,” he said.

    But Birnbaum says on the way to the airport, their flight was canceled. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered U.S. Airlines to stop flying to and from Tel Aviv's airport for at least 24 hours.

    Birnbaum, who now lives in Atlanta, is former chief of staff for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    “Every day there are sirens going off. They are going to the bomb shelter, and that is where they are sleeping tonight in the bomb shelter,” Birnbaum said.

    The southeast consulate general of Israel, Opher Aviran, was called back to Atlanta to deal with the heightened tensions.

    “I was on a holiday in Israel and I was called back to try to bring the message of what we in Israel are going through,” Aviran said.

     On Tuesday night, he was with some of the approximately two dozen families from the metro area that have children fighting in the Israeli Army.

    “Every day there are waiting on pins and needles to just hear from their children,” Birnbaum said.

    The ban is supposed to be in place for 24 hours. No word yet on when it will be lifted.

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