NEWS

Denver couple returns home after getting stuck in Israel


DENVER (KDVR) — Longtime Denver resident Barry Curtiss-Lusher went to Israel with his wife in early October for business and to visit friends. They arrived in Tel Aviv Friday night and woke up to sirens and the sounds of rockets on Oct. 7.

“We sheltered in place from that point on in the hotel. Every time sirens would go off, we’d have to seek either the safe room or the shelter in the basement,” Curtiss-Lusher said.

At one point, Curtiss-Lusher said they got an alert on their phone that Hamas was in their hotel. They hid for 40 minutes until they got the all-clear.

“It just said, ‘Hamas is here, lock yourself in the safe room,’ so we thought it meant they were in the hotel, and that’s what the report was. That’s why the military came to the hotel to search,” he said.

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip
Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. The militant Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip carried out an unprecedented, multi-front attack on Israel at daybreak Saturday, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations, killing hundreds and taking captives. Palestinian health officials reported scores of deaths from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Israel at war: ‘It’s personal. I can feel it’

Eventually, the couple was able to catch a flight to Greece before arriving in Denver. As a longtime member of the national board for the Anti-Defamation League, Curtiss-Lusher said the fight hits close to home.

“It’s personal. I can feel it. I can see the faces of the people who were there — some I know and others I can imagine — because I know where they come from and I’ve been to their towns and I understand it. And look, I feel for the other side too,” Curtiss-Lusher said. “They’re using their own people as human shields. I feel bad for the people in Gaza — the innocent ones who are not Hamas, who are simply caught in the middle. It’s a very difficult situation.”

Curtiss-Lusher and his wife saw their children and grandchildren for the first time Monday since arriving home from Israel.

“It was a lot of big hugs held for a long time,” Curtiss-Lusher said.

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