Update on the
Situation in Israel November 15,
The Israel office of The Jewish Federations of North America is closely
following the continued severe violence in the South of Israel, which has
escalated after the targeted killing of Hamas terrorist and kidnapper, Ahmed Jabri, yesterday, Wednesday, November 14.
Rockets have been hitting Southern Israel since Saturday, with 196
missiles fired since the Israeli military operation began yesterday. This
morning, Thursday, a Grad missile hit an apartment in Kiryat Malachi, killing
Aharon Smagda, a 40-year-old father of three, Yitzchak Amselam, 22, and
Mirah Scharf Cohen, a 25-year-old pregnant mother of three, and injuring others,
including two infants, one of whom, 8-months-old, is in critical condition.
Yedidah Halevy, ZAKA Commander and volunteer in Kiryat Malachi, rushed to
help. "I heard the explosion and ran in the direction of the smoke. Other ZAKA
and MDA volunteers arrived with me [and we] began to treat the injured. ZAKA
volunteers continued their sacred work of dealing with the bodies and collecting
human remains, despite another Code Red alarm.” Five rockets were fired at the
city and intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system while emergency teams
assisted the wounded.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has said, "Hamas and
the terror organizations decided to escalate their attacks on the citizens of
Israel over the last few days. We will not accept a situation in which Israeli
citizens are threatened by the terror of rockets. No country would accept this,
Israel will not accept it."
JFNA strongly condemns the terrorist
activity against Israel and offers its support throughout this crisis. Michael
Siegal, Chair of The Jewish Federations of North America says, “Since this past
weekend, citizens of Israel’s south have been targeted by yet another rocket
barrage by terrorists in the Gaza Strip, that have put more than one million
Israeli civilians under a state of siege. We call on the international community
to condemn such unprovoked violence and vigorously defend Israel’s right to
protect itself and its citizens from further harm.”
unprovoked attacks follow years of unrelenting terror that has forced so many
Israelis to live in a constant state of fear -- conditions which no country
would tolerate,” added Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of JFNA. “We proudly
stand shoulder to shoulder with the people and state of Israel during this
difficult time and pray that such attacks will soon end.”
There is a cyber-battle taking place
simultaneously, with Hamas publicizing pictures of civilians injured
in Syria's civil war on Twitter and claiming they are images of those harmed by
IAF airstrikes over Gaza. The IDF has also been informing Gazan residents of
impending airstrikes by dropping leaflets overland throughout the day. The
Arabic leaflets urge to "take responsibility and avoid being present in the
vicinity of Hamas operatives and facilities and those of other terror
organizations that pose a risk to your safety."
A center for
coordinating public diplomacy efforts has been opened in an effort to spread
Israel's message and counter the delegitimization of its actions. Public
Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said, "We are here in
order to expose the unbearable reality of the residents in the south and the
necessity for military action against Hamas and the [other] terrorist
organizations. I am certain that alongside us will stand tens of thousands of
activists in Jewish communities around the world."
reached Kiryat Gat, Ashkelon and Ashdod, showing the far reach of this violence.
Over 12,000 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza in the past 12 years and
the missiles reach further across the country each time.
historic partner, The Jewish Agency for Israel, is preparing relief for youth in
the South and will move ahead with activities once it has received permission
from the Home Command. Relief for professional staff is also being planned as
well as psych-social work at absorption centers in the South. $1,000 is being
given immediately and directly to all whose homes have been damaged by rockets.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is holding
emergency meetings on how best to assist the populations in the South. The
Israel Trauma Coalition is working with professionals in the field and is making
an assessment of the situation. Emergency arrangements are being coordinated
with RAHEL and the Government of Israel.
World ORT is coordinating
an emergency response. World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer said,
"Extra-curricular activities provided through the Centre of Excellence in Kiryat
Gat will be held in the communal air raid shelter. While we hope for the best we
are prepared for the worst.”
Otzma participants due to go to
Netivot and Ofakim yesterday have been taken to Arad instead. The participants
in Kiryat Gat have been fully briefed on how to find
University students have been evacuated from their
dormitories and sent home, and all within 40 km of Gaza have been ordered by the
Home Front Command to remain in shelters until further notice. Some do not have
access to shelters and are therefore stuck to the safest place they can find –
for many that is the communal stairwell in their apartment block. The Barzilai
hospital in Ashkelon is moving patients into an underground bunker in
The South of the country is dealing with life put on
hold in all aspects. Weddings are being moved to safer locations, even though no
one will turn up, and citizens in the North are offering their homes for respite
to the rocket-battered residents of the South. The Home Command is advising all
not to travel to the South. Reserve soldiers are being called up for action.
JFNA and Federation leaders were scheduled to convene today to discuss the
JFNA together with JCPA will be holding a teleconference today, Thursday, now
scheduled for 12:15 EST, to examine the escalating security situation
in the south of Israel and the resulting IDF military operation. The call will
feature Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, head of the International Media &
Communications Branch of the IDF Spokespersons Unit.
Call-in details: Date: Thursday, November
15 at 12:15 p.m. EST Dial-in
Number: 1-800-399-0118 Israel Dial-in
Number: 1-809-457-877 or 1-809-315-362 Conference
More information on Operation Pillar of
Defense can be seen here: