WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As missiles flew into Israel this weekend, one native Kansan fled the country.
Casey Ratzlaff is a top 15 tennis player who graduated from Maize High School.
Saturday night, he arrived in Israel for a tournament and immediately knew something was wrong.
“The place was packed, and all of a sudden, a mob of people run in from the outside,” said Ratzlaff. “A ton of people rush in. And it’s a little bit of panic. People are starting to abandon their things and run into the internals of the airport.”
Ratzlaff could feel the missile strikes, even in the airport.
“I could hear the iron dome, the Israel defense system, shooting rockets out of the sky,” said Ratzlaff. “You could hear it, boom, boom, boom outside. And you could feel it too, each explosion.”
Ratzlaff finally was able to get a flight out of the country after about 12 hours.
“How bad was it? How close were they? We just didn’t know.” said Ratzlaff.
One former Wichita area resident is Itay Alterman, who now lives in Israel. Alterman says Israel country could be in for a long war.
“No one anticipated what happened on Saturday morning in Israel,” said Itay Alterman. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take. Nobody knows. Israeli government is saying we are all preparing for a long war. That cannot be a quick (and) done mission.”
KSN also talked to Kansas Rabbi Shmulik Greenberg about the events in Israel.
“But what can we do in Wichita, outside of the actual war zone?” said Greenberg. “And the answer is we have to be united on a spiritual front. We have to be kind to each other. You know we have to take it upon ourselves to do better and to do good.”
Alterman is north of the missile strike and fighting areas. He says this is a tough time for everyone knowing there could be a long war.
“Yeah, it might take a long time, and I’m here to support it in any way I can. With my brothers and sisters who are here fighting as well,” said Alterman. “It’s a mission statement to defend our one and only country.”
Ironically, Ratzlaff tried to play in a tennis tournament last year that was also canceled due to missile strikes.
“They canceled the tournament,” said Ratzlaff. “I’m pushing forward. Positive about what could be.”