(KYTX) - "The siren went off! Caught us all totally by surprise." says Linda Lesniewski. "And, the tour guide just said, kneel down by this stone wall. So, we did."
Lesniewski is the women's pastor at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler. She was on a tour with her women's group in Tel Aviv at 4:30 p.m. Israel time Saturday when the sirens sounded.
"We were just in shock. And, within a few minutes, we heard an explosion in the air." she says.
Her husband stood up to take these pictures when it happened.
"It was the Israel's dome system interception taking out the missile that had been shot from Gaza toward Tel Aviv." says Lesniewski.
Fortunately, Linda and the members of her non-profit theological studies group, Womenry, didn't get hurt. They knew about existing tension, but there was no warning for this violence..
Imam Anwar Khalifa with the East Texas Islamic Society says this violence has been building up over time.
"The people from Gaza do their stupidity, throwing rockets over to the Israeli side. And, after Israel takes all it can take, it does something massive, like what's happening now." says Khalifa.
Rabbi Neal Katz with the Beth El Congregation in Tyler agrees that violence has to stop, but says Israel has a right to defend itself.
"If Hamas lays down its arms and lays down its weapons, there will be peace." says Khalifa.
For Americans caught in the crossfire, it's a harsh insight into the daily struggles of those in the Middle East.