Jul 13, 2014

Day 6: Update on Operation Protective Edge and Federation Response

Dear Friends,

This morning I traveled to Sderot with a small delegation of leaders from our Campaign Chairs and Directors Mission to meet with and hear from local residents and leadership. The city is tense and few people are out and about. Everyone is keeping close to their bomb shelters ever mindful of the 15 second rule – that’s how much time you have to get to safety. We’ve already had to make that unnerving dash to the shelters.

In our meeting with Alon Davidi, the Mayor of Sderot, we expressed the absolute solidarity and support of the Federations and the entire North American Jewish community support with him and his city.

Later today, a solidarity mission of senior federation leadership will arrive in Israel. They too will come in to the circle of the 15 second club when we head south.

As always, I will keep you updated.

Jerry

THE SITUATION

• Of the 690 rockets and mortars that have been fired by Gazan terrorists at Israel since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, 525 have hit Israel (mainly in open fields) with 138 rockets intercepted by the Iron Dome Defense System. See a video of the system working in Tel Aviv.
• Yesterday, a salvo of three rockets was fired into northern Israel from Lebanon.
Shake Israel’s Security is a Hamas-made Hebrew-language music video made to terrorize the Israeli public. Needless to say, it’s not a very effective tool.

IMPACT

Four Israeli Naval commandos have been reported lightly wounded in a ground battle with Hamas.
• A 74-year-old American tourist in Jerusalem died from a heart attack precipitated by the 7pm siren.
• Five Israelis were injured rushing to bomb shelters during the previously advertised 9 pm rocket onslaught on Tel Aviv and other cities. Over twenty were treated for severe shock.
• An estimated 157 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since the start of the fighting.
• Early Sunday morning, sirens sounded at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. Flights are still operating, with some minor delays and interruptions.
• A forest fire was started 3 am Sunday, in the Shfela area of central Israel by falling shrapnel from an intercepted rocket.
• See a group of visiting tourists singing in the Dan Jerusalem Hotel bomb shelter to keep up morale.

IDF RESPONSE

DF has struck 200 terror targets in Gaza during the past 24 hours.
• Overall, 1, 236 terrorist hubs have been targeted, including rocket launchers, militant compounds, weapon manufacturing and storage facilities and others.
• Saturday night, the IDF hit a weapon cache concealed within a mosque. Hamas systematically uses mosques to conceal weaponry and establish underground tunnel networks.
• The IDF is instructing Gazans in and around Beit Lahiya to leave their homes by noon today, to spare any injury to civilians as a result of IDF response to the Hamas terror network which operates from residential areas and hides rocket launchers in people’s homes.
Hamas is encouraging the residents to stay, including using this leaflet.
• 670 Palestinians with dual citizenship together with the US, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, and other European countries left the Gaza Strip for Israel with the assistance of foreign consulates, Sunday morning.

PARTNER AGENCIES

The Jewish Agency for Israel

Emergency Fund: Through The Jewish Agency’s Fund for Victims of Terror, since July 1, in coordination with the National Insurance Authority and local municipalities, Emergency SOS grants have been allocated for clothing and basic supplies to families whose homes were damaged by direct rocket hits.
Emergency Respite Activities: The Jewish Agency is poised to launch programs that will help take children out of the areas taking heaviest fire as tens of thousands of youngsters experience the direct threat of terror each and every day.
Partnership2gether: In the month of July, over 2,000 young people and adults are scheduled to take part in summer programs in their P2G regions in Israel. P2G is working with the Jewish Agency’s Security Department to move some of the groups to alternative venues: For example, a group of Kefiyeda participants from Chicago has been moved to Eilat and a group from Montreal did not go to Beer Sheva but rather to Nitzana.

World ORT

• Although schools in Israel are now on vacation, World ORT Kadima Mada has responded quickly with practical programs to provide respite for some 2,000 people in the south, sending groups to the relative quiet in the north for fun educational programmes at MadaPark in Kiryat Yam. Working closely with affiliated schools in the south, the first group of at least 100 is due to go up this week and will stay at the youth village of Hodayot. As many parents are worried about being separated from their children, mainly family groups are being sent, rather than individual children.
• Also this week, the World ORT Kadima Mada YOU-niversity Centers of Excellence program for Science and Technology (which has been providing quality extra-curricular enrichment classes for Arab and Jewish students since 2012) is due to start operating in municipal air raid shelters for those children who remain in the southern communities.

GOVERNMENT

• Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “We’re using anti-missile systems to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles – that’s the difference.”
• Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesman said regarding the hiding of weaponry and terror tunnels in mosques: “Hamas, a terror organization motivated by a radically interpreted religious ideology, abuses religious sites such as mosques to plot against Israeli civilians, as well as to conceal weaponry. Hamas terrorists systematically exploit and choose to put Palestinians in Gaza in harm’s way and continue to locate their positions among civilian areas and mosques, proving once more their disregard for human life and holy sites.”

For more information:

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.604714

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4542440,00.html