San Francisco restaurant owner in Israel for bat mitzvah during Hamas attack

A San Francisco restaurateur and commissioner on the city's MTA board was in Israel for a bat mitzvah when Hamas attacked over the weekend.

Manny Yekutiel, owner of Manny's in the Mission District, left the Bay Area last week for Tel Aviv to attend his niece's rite of passage.

During one of the family celebrations on Saturday, Yekutiel heard bombs explode, missiles striking nearby buildings and sirens warning his area was under attack.

Speaking by Zoom on Monday, Yekutiel said he spent most of the weekend in a bomb shelter with relatives, including young children. 

"Children traditionally dance in the synagogue, and parents throw them up in the air." he said. "It's a day where Jews from all over the world gather together to love each other."

He said he'll never forget this image: He went to the synagogue to get his father, and children were jumping with joy. 

"And in the midst of this, the sirens went off and everyone had to run and find cover and to see the fear in their children's eyes," he said. "I wish that on no one." 

The attack by Hamas has left more than 1,000 dead on both sides. Authorities believe at least 700 Israelis and 400 Palestinians have been killed since the militant group Hamas launched its major attack in southern Israel early Saturday. 

Israel formally declared war on Sunday and approved a military response to try to wrest control of four sites from Hamas fighters.  

On Monday, President Biden issued a statement that said at least 11 Americans had been killed as well. 

Yekutiel is now helping with a massive makeshift volunteer effort inside a hangar at the Port of Tel Aviv, about 90 minutes from the Gaza strip.

There, people are collecting donations and creating boxed care packages to send to families suffering and soldiers fighting. 

A number of airlines have canceled flights to Israel for the time being.

Yekutiel said he has a flight home scheduled next week. 

But depending on how the war progresses, that could change.

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.