I have just arrived on the ground in Israel. The atmosphere here is what we have grown to expect. Israelis are resolute, focused and committed to both protecting those within the range of fire and keeping the activities of daily life going. But now that the vast majority of Israelis are within rocket range—just hours ago a rocket hit near Zichron Yaakov, 39 miles north of Tel Aviv, far from the cities of the South that have been plagued by attacks for more than a decade—the entire country is on edge.
Over the next several hours, we will be consulting with Federation leadership as to whether to activate a continental emergency mobilization including fundraising and solidarity missions. Stand by, we will report on that this afternoon. Already, our partner agencies are in high gear responding to the rapidly escalating situation.
In the meantime, here is a summary of events curated by our Israel team that reflects what is happening on the ground. We have included embedded links for additional information and videos.
- Overnight, the IDF targeted approximately 160 terror sites throughout the Gaza Strip, including 118 rocket launching sites, 10 terror and smuggling tunnels, 6 Hamas official facilities, and 10 terror command positions.
- In just under two days, since the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 7, the IDF has targeted approximately 440 targets.
- One of the many challenges in facing Hamas terror is their use of human shields. Israel is calling Palestinian civilians in Gaza to warn them to evacuate minutes before they perform airstrikes. Five of the weapon manufacturing facilities the IAF has targeted overnight were concealed within mosques. See an extract of the delicate procedure the IAF takes in targeting terrorist sites.
- The IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai called on Hamas to immediately stop firing rockets into Israel.
- “Calm will be answered with calm,” Mordechai said, stressing that escalation would only lead to more escalation and a harsh IDF response. He said Hamas had taken the decision to wreak havoc on the Gaza Strip during Ramadan as distraction from its own economic and social problems.
- There have been no serious physical injuries to Israelis due to rocket fire, but much property has been hit, and significant psychological damage sustained.
- The escalating conflict with Gaza has already caused nearly three million dollars in property damage, and collateral business damage and that number is increasing.
- Weddings were disrupted last night as rocket fire directly threatened the participants’safety. This video shows one wedding in Ashdod fall apart in screams as the siren sounds. At 0.25 seconds you can hear the announcer shouting for everyone to enter the shelter immediately and one second later, the rocket explosion. Some weddings were cancelled.
- Children’s summer camps are continuing as much as possible, as detailed in the partnership work below. In order to lessen the trauma involved, children are encouraged to sing the ‘tzeva adom’ song. See a video of Israeli school children learning to cope with the traumatic reality of rocket fire.
- Israel Railways also been affected by the barrage of rockets causing disruptions of service across the country. There is no train activity between Ashkelon and Sderot.
- Some 2,400 young scouts were evacuated, Monday, during a camping trip, east of Ashdod.
- Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sapir College, the Shamoon College of Engineering and others have suspended all classes and exams until further notice.
IMPACT ON OUR PARTNERSHIP WORK
The Jewish Agency for Israel:
- Currently has over 4500 young adults in Israel on short term immersion experiences, and an additional 3,000 on long term.
- Security briefings have been provided for all tour operators and participants, and none are currently within 24 mi. of Gaza (an Onward group from Be’er Sheva was moved northward).
- Programs operating between 24-49 miles north of Gaza must brief participants on how to act if sirens sound, and must remain within proximity of safe shelter.
- Parents of all Onward participants (270 currently in Israel), have been contacted and other programs either have already sent or will be sending communications shortly.
- Staff from a Jewish Agency subsidiary, Amigour, are performing damage assessment caused by rocket fire for the National Property Tax Authority.
American Jewish Joint Distribution Commitee (JDC):
- Better Together, which serves children and youth has activated program managers in communities in the 24 mi.range. Activities for children have been suspended and large public gatherings are now prohibited in those areas. Currently the BT staff are putting together alternative activities that can be offered, with an emphasis on what can be done to keep the children occupied should there need to be extended stays in public shelters.
Israel Trauma Coalition:
- There has been a 150% increase in those seeking help for shock and anxiety.
- The overly demanding work of the previous weeks is already wearing down the professional staff who have been dealing with a spike in demands for help, related to the abduction of the three teenage boys. Over 100 therapeutic workshops have been set up to provide support to the population of the South, especially to parents and a show is being put on for children to educate them about safe responses to the situation.
- Currently there are 3,600 Birthright participants in Israel. BRI reviews all security measures and implements the most stringent security recommendations throughout the trip to ensure comprehensive safety. No effort or expense is spared as it relates to the security of participants.
FEDERATION VOICES ON THE GROUND
- We are collecting information on the impact of the situation on Federation partnership cities.
- The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia,’s Israel representative, Talia Lidar, reports that Philadelphia’s partnership city, Netivot, which has been heavily impacted. Nothing communal is operating, the kids are at home with no activity, and the shopping centers are empty.
- Arie Levy, Federation CJA Montreal, reports that “Beersheva is empty today with shops closed and all educational activities shut down. There are some children’s activities in shelters. There is no talk of evacuation; this is not a region that is easily evacuated. The authorities have implemented their emergency protocols for volunteers and staff. The Trauma Center is open in the Teacher’s Center.”
JFNA RELEASED THIS STATEMENT TUESDAY EVENING
Jewish Federations Condemn Rocket Attacks from Gaza and Express Support for Israel
New York – As missiles continue to rain down on southern Israel from Gaza and with reports of sirens as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the worldwide Jewish community expresses its unending support for Israelis living again under terror in their own midst. The Jewish Federations of North America condemns Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza in the strongest possible terms for these attacks, making it clear that the North American Jewish community stands with Israel during this difficult time.
“Jewish Federations unequivocally support the Government of Israel in its response to the indiscriminate attacks launched against its people. As long as Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza continue to target innocent Israelis, Israel must be able to do whatever is necessary to protect her citizens. We commend President Barack Obama for his continuing support of Israel’s right to self-defense and we pray that calm will again be restored as quickly as possible.”
As a reminder, please encourage your leadership to participate in today’s special briefing sponsored by JFNA/JCPA with David Horovitz, editor of the Times of Israel, who will provide an up-to-the-minute update on the situation on the ground in Israel. Please use the following numbers: 1-800-399-0118. No conference ID is needed for guests calling in from the USA/Canada.
For more information:
JFNA’s Resource Page