Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day 3: Update on Operation Protective Edge and Federation Response



From the Desk of JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman - in Jerusalem Israel.

July 10, 2014

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you now on my second day in Israel, where I am once again reminded of the incredible capacity of our people to unite and be strong in times of crisis.

Watching the people on the streets, there’s no easy way to tell who had a quiet night and who woke their kids and rushed for shelter. Late last night, the Campaign Chair and Directors Mission arrived in Israel from Greece. When the door of the plane opened and people stepped off, we could sense each person’s emotional response to being on the ground.

One of the group’s participants, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas, Elliot Karp, said, “This morning I awoke and was brushing my teeth when the air raid sirens began to wail as a Code Red was issued. I immediately walked to the shelter on the 23rd floor of my hotel...and as I did I could hear the explosions in the sky of the IDF Iron Dome.”

Some 750 people from Federations across the continent dialed in to our conference call update on the situation yesterday. A recording of the call can be heard here.

Earlier today, our Israel office compiled a news digest, including numerous links to additional information, work of our partner agencies, footage and files.

As Federations gear up to help during the crisis, let’s join together in prayer and hope for a speedy end to this conflict, and peace for all.

Jerry Silverman


THE SITUATION 

IDF RESPONSE 

  • Wednesday night, the IDF targeted over 320 targets, including 58 tunnels, 220 launchers and the homes of Hamas commanders. 
  • The IDF has hit 513 launchers and nearly 800 terror targets in total since the start of the operation, and claims that it still has hundreds of targets remaining. 
  • The IDF continues to warn civilians before a strike, calling beforehand and often detonating a false explosion to warn the population to evacuate. Here is an IDF video illustrating the army’s methods
  • Even as the IDF continues to work round these challenges, Hamas officials praise the use of human shields
  • Regarding a possible ground incursion, a senior IDF official has said, “We are weighing all options. We still have many more targets to attack from the air. The decision about the timing of an attack will be made within two or three days.” 
  • Nahal Brigade forces are reported to be massing on the Gaza Border, alongside soldiers from the Paratrooper and Givati Brigades. 
  • For analysis on a possible ground war, see this article

EFFECT ON ISRAELI PEOPLE

IMPACT ON OUR PARTNERSHIP WORK

The Jewish Agency for Israel:

  • As planned, 2,046 overseas participants/visitors are now down south, taking part in Partnership2Gether programs. Security briefings were provided to all P2G group participants, and none are within 40 km of Gaza. 
  • The Fund for the Victims of Terror has disbursed 10 grants of $1,300 each in the past several days. 
  • The Jewish Agency currently has over 4,500 young adults in Israel on short-term experiences, and an additional 3,000 on long-term programs. Communications have already gone out to parents of Onward, Masa, and other program participants, and the Facebook feeds of the programs are being regularly updated. 
  • Like countless other Israelis, Ravit Eliya Leib, Director of Social Services for The Jewish Agency Absorption Centers in southern Israel, has been challenged with finding programs for her two children now that camp has been cancelled. In a uniquely Israeli reaction, she tapped a family member to come in so that she can keep working with the new immigrants. “It’s so important to create a routine, to normalize this abnormal situation,” she said. “The staff is used to emergency situations, but the olim have to learn to get used to it.” 

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC):

  • JDC, through the Israel Unlimited partnership, has worked with the Home Front Command and Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services to create a manual with emergency protocols for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (click here to see the manual in Hebrew). The manual, developed during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, is now on the Home Front Command website, providing helpful guidance in real time. 
  • JDC has also reactivated databases compiled immediately after Operation Pillar of Defense, thanks to support from Federations, to guide temporary caseworkers now being hired to work with the elderly and disabled residents in 13 locations across the south. These caseworkers will help address the unique needs resulting from the current crisis. Some 80 caseworkers are being recruited to start work in the coming days. 

World ORT:
  • World ORT Kadima Mada will hold science and technology summer camps and various educational activities for 500 children from the Sha’ar HaNegev municipality at the Yitzhak Shavit Sha'ar Hanegev School with 1,600 students. The children will enjoy a respite from air raids in the tranquility of a youth village in northern Israel and take part in activities at Kiryat Yam, in cooperation with the municipality. 
  • The team from ORT Kadima Mada is in contact with all their affiliated schools and partners and is working to minimize children’s trauma and enable a variety of engaging and enriching science and technology activities. 
From our sister city bordering Gaza - Sha'ar HaNegev 

ISRAELI GOVERNMENT
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem is focused on making Israel’s case, including drafting key short messages and sound bites. Federations interested in the most current version can contact JFNA’s Dani Wassner at dani.wassner@jewishfederations.org
  • Humanitarian concerns prevail, with goods continuing to enter and exit the Gaza Strip freely. Disruptions occur due to Hamas rocket fire. 
  • The Prime Minister’s Office has set up a social media campaign and Operation Rooms in Jerusalem and at IDC Herzliya College, operated by volunteers, using the pages www.IsraelUnderFire.com and https://www.facebook.com/IsraelUnderFireLive

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with world leaders Wednesday and issued a statement saying:

"Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza are firing rockets on cities throughout the State of Israel - on Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheba, Sderot and other cities in Israel. No country on earth would remain passive in the face of hundreds of rockets fired on its cities and Israel is no exception.

“We will continue to protect our civilians against Hamas attacks on them. Hamas, by contrast, is deliberately putting Palestinian civilians into harm's way. It embeds its terrorists in hospitals, schools, mosques and apartment buildings throughout the Gaza Strip. Hamas is thus committing a double war crime: It targets Israeli civilians, while hiding behind Palestinian civilians.

“This operation could take time. We are resolved to defend our families and our homes.”

For more information:


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