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The Jewish Federations of North America
  Leadership Briefing

JFNA Briefing: Israel's South Under Fire - Update and Teleconference

March 12, 2012

The Jewish Federations of North America will host a teleconference briefing for Federations on the situation in the South of Israel, with Israel Defense Forces Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovitch, head of the International Media and Communications Branch of the IDF Spokesperson's Office, and Sigal Ariely, director of the Ashkelon-Baltimore Partnership and Ashkelon resident.

Call-in details:

Date: Tuesday March 13, 12:30 pm ET
Dial-in Number: 1-877-559-2802
Israel Dial-in Number: 180-945-7877 or 180-931-5362
Conference ID: 61711058

On day four of the current escalation, with continuing rocket assaults in the South, it remains unclear to both politicians and analysts how long this violence will continue and at what level. One million Israelis are living under threat and taking refuge in shelters, safe rooms and along roadsides each time an alert is sounded. Not unexpectedly, Israel’s crisis hot lines are seeing a spike in calls from worried residents seeking to be reassured.

Since Friday, dozens of people have been treated for trauma and four Israelis have been injured, one severely. For many, the high security situation takes them back to the trauma they suffered from previous attacks. Nati Haktz'or, 24, from Beer Sheva, lost his right leg six months ago in a Grad missile strike. Since the start of these attacks, he has stopped sleeping in his bed, in order to shorten the distance to the reinforced shelter. "Each alarm sends me right back to the day I lost my leg," he says.

The Chair of the JFNA Board of Trustees, Kathy Manning, says: "Once again, The Jewish Federations of North America reach out in solidarity with the people of Israel living in the South now enduring such a difficult situation. We hope for a cessation of the violence and a return to normal life as soon as possible."

With over 130 rockets fired into the South of Israel from the Gaza Strip since this latest series of attacks, this is the most intense assault against Israel since Operation Cast Lead in 2009. A report from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs details the number of rockets hitting the region and the background behind Israel's retaliatory strikes. The Israel Air Force is targeting Gazan weapons storage sites and rocket launch sites and the IDF has declared it will be deploying its fourth Iron Dome Defense system in several weeks. The Iron Dome system works to intercept rockets headed towards urban areas and is achieving a success rate of around 90 percent.

Under Army orders, 17 cities have shut down their educational centers, meaning that in addition to 21,000 university students with cancelled classes, 200,000 school children are at home, and parents have been forced to find child-care solutions that ensure their children’s safety should air raid sirens sound. Paradoxically, experts are concerned that residents in some areas are becoming complacent as a result of the Iron Dome’s efficacy – and civilians are being prompted to continue to act in accordance with all security guidelines. 

In the Eshkol Region, one school and 15 homes were hit. A video of a grad hit in Beersheva can be seen here.  As a result of the decision to close schools on Sunday, a potential disaster was avoided in the city. The Home Front Command has reissued security instructions on how to act during a missile alert.

JFNA's Israel Office is in regular contact with our partners at the Jewish Agency and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committeee, as well as with Israel’s Home Front Command and Emergency Roundtable, and will continue to provide new information and updates as the situation demands.

News Articles:

Ynet: Gaza terrorists pound southern sector

Times of Israel: A short drive from Tel Aviv, rockets paralyze a city of 250,000

Hamas: Egypt working 'around the clock' to halt violence



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