The parents of Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone are part of a church group currently stuck in Israel amid the deadly conflict that erupted there this weekend, he revealed Sunday after the Lions beat the Carolina Panthers 42-24 at Ford Field.
Anzalone said his parents, Sal and Judy, are touring Israel with their church, First Naples, based in Naples, Florida. The Baptist congregation sent a group of 53 people to Israel, although the group is now trying to find a way out of the country after war broke out between Israel and Hamas.
“It’s tough,” Anzalone told The Detroit News after his win 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, reigniting the deadly, decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is now at war and vowed retaliation.
As of Sunday night, the death toll was estimated at around 1,100 people, according to The New York Times. It is estimated that Hamas was holding 150 people hostage and it is unclear if any Americans were among them. There were “several” American citizens who died in the fighting, a National Security Council spokesperson told the New York Times, although it is unclear how many.
According to The Detroit News, the First Naples group was scheduled to fly out of the country on Thursday from Tel Aviv. Now they are trying to find a faster alternative to get home. Pastor Alan Brumback said Saturday on the church’s Facebook page that they were “doing good” and staying at his hotel in Jerusalem.
Anzalone shared on social media a clip of an interview U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds gave on Fox News on Sunday morning. Donalds, a Republican, represents Naples, Florida and the surrounding area.
“I have 53 members of my electorate who are in Jerusalem right now,” Donalds said on Fox News. “Obviously, they are panicking, trying to find their way back to the United States… We need to provide all possible assistance to Israel to get the Americans back.”
Anzalone had a team-high 11 tackles in the Lions’ win on Sunday. The 29-year-old has 35 tackles so far this season, his third with the Lions and seventh in the league.