UJFT provides community with up-to-date information about Operation Protective Edge

by | Jul 9, 2014 | Featured

The escalating conflict in Israel, with Hamas firing missiles into populated areas from Gaza and the Israel Defense Forces launching Operation Protective Edge to protect its citizens, is changing daily, sometimes even hourly.

Members of the Tidewater Jewish community are troubled, and concerned for the safety of friends and family in Israel, for Israelis, and for the stability of the region. Within 24 hours of the start of Operation Protective Edge on Monday, July 7, 1,500 Israel Defense Forces reservists were called up for active duty, and a draft of 40,000 more was approved.

Sirens warning of rocket attacks are being heard throughout Israel—in Tel Aviv, Herzliya, and Jerusalem, and dozens more cities. While the Iron Dome, Israel’s anti-missile system, has intercepted most of Hamas’ missiles from destroying property and innocent lives, experts are warning of the extended reach of these weapons and Hamas’ goal of doing the most harm possible to Israel.

The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater is keeping a close watch on the situation to provide the community with as much updated information as possible, relying on the knowledge base and strong network of partners and sources it is linked with through the Community Relations Council, and through the Jewish Federations of North America, the Federation umbrella organization.

During times such as this, JFNA Israel represents UJFT and other Federations at the Non-Profit Emergency Situation Roundtable under the auspices of the Ministry of Defense. JFNA convened its emergency roundtable early last week and met with partner agencies, The Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, as well as the Israel Trauma Coalition. Together, they are monitoring the situation on the ground and sharing information with Tidewater. This effective communal system is ready to mobilize if assistance is needed, and the CRC and the UJFT will keep the Tidewater Jewish community, and supporters of Israel, up to date as the situation evolves.

For information and updates on Operation Protective Edge and what you can do to help support Israel during this crisis, visit www.JewishVa.org and Like the CRC UJFT Facebook page and go to the Jewish News site at www.jewishnewsva.org for the latest news.

In the meantime, here is a summary of events curated by JFNA’s Israel team that reflects what is happening on the ground at press time July 9, 2014.

More than 45 rockets were fired by Hamas July 8 and 9, including at Israeli major cities, as far north as Zichron Yaakov, 39 miles north of Tel Aviv and 72 miles north of Gaza.

Of the 160 rockets that have been fired by Hamas since Monday, July 7, 116 have struck Israel. 23 were intercepted by the Iron Dome Defense system. Rockets on track to hit open areas are not intercepted by Iron Dome, which has a very high cost per-fire.

Amongst the rockets Hamas has fired is the Iranian M-302 rocket, which can reach up to 90 miles away. Israel’s northernmost point is only 138 miles from Gaza. Hamas continues to attempt other acts of terrorism; the Israeli Navy repelled an attempt to infiltrate Israel’s coastline and a reported attempted kidnapping near Jerusalem that failed.

The night of July 8, 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 IDF has targeted were concealed within mosques.

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 $3-million in property damage, and collateral business damage, and that number is increasing.

Children’s summer camps are continuing as much as possible. In order to lessen the trauma involved, children are encouraged to sing the ‘tzeva adom’ song.

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 July 7, 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.

The Jewish Agency for Israel:
Currently has more than 4,500 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 and 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.

Birthright Israel:
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.