Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone’s parents are part of a church group that is currently stuck in Israel amid the deadly conflict that broke out there this weekend, he revealed on Sunday after the Lions beat the Carolina Panthers 42-24 at Ford Field.
Anzalone said his parents, Sal and Judy, are touring through Israel with their church, First Naples, based out of Naples, Florida. The Baptist congregation sent a 53-person group to Israel, though the group is now trying to find a way out of the country after war broke out between Israel and Hamas.
“It’s hard,” Anzalone told The Detroit News after their win on Sunday when asked about his parents. “[It’s] really all I’ve been thinking about.”
Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, launched a surprise attack on Israel on Saturday morning, which reignited the deadly conflict between Israel and Palestinians that has been going on for decades. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is now at war and vowed retaliation.
As of Sunday night, the death toll was estimated to be around 1,100 people, according to The New York Times. An estimated 150 people were being held hostage by Hamas, and it’s unclear if any Americans were among them. There were “several” U.S. citizens that were killed in the fighting, a National Security Council spokesperson told The New York Times, though it’s unclear how many.
According to The Detroit News, the First Naples group had a flight scheduled to leave the country for Thursday out of Tel Aviv. They are now trying to find a quicker alternative to get home. Pastor Alan Brumback said on the church’s Facebook page on Saturday that they were “doing good” and staying at their hotel in Jerusalem.
Anzalone shared a clip of an interview that U.S. Representative Byron Donalds gave on Fox News on Sunday morning to social media. Donalds, a Republican, represents Naples, Florida, and the surrounding areas.
“I have 53 members of my constituency who are in Jerusalem right now,” Donalds said on Fox News. “Obviously, they are panicked, trying to find their way back to America … We need to provide every assistance possible to Israel to get Americans back.”
Anzalone had a team-high 11 tackles in the Lions’ win on Sunday. The 29-year-old now has 35 tackles so far this season, his third with the Lions and seventh in the league.