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JEWISHcolorado stands with Israel

JEWISHcolorado stands with Israel and sends our thoughts and prayers for peace to the Israeli people. We would like to share this piece below written by our Israeli Emissary, Osnat Fox, which she shared on Facebook last night. We are also forwarding an update from the Jewish Federations of North America. We are grateful to hear about the ceasefire from this morning and will continue to monitor the situation and update the community as events progress.

Osnat Fox

It has been a hard day and my thoughts are with family and friends in Israel. In what is the worse attack since 2014, over 70 rockets and mortars were shot during the day and a few dozen more during the night towards the Southern part of the country close to Gaza. After a sleepless night with many alerts, residents have been instructed to stay within 15 SECONDS of the shelters and all in the region are anxiously waiting to see what the day will bring. We saw hits in a sports stadium, near a kindergarten and in a private house. Only very few wounded physically, but- for kids, parents and these communities – the stress and concern is unbearable. Israelis are strong, the people living in this region are incredibly strong but they also face something that no people should have to face.
Enough of this senseless violence!
Friends- Call an Israeli friend to ask how they are doing and how their family is. Community makes us strong and Israelis need to know that our Mishpacha (family) here cares.

An Update from JFNA

Unfortunately, the barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israel’s south continued overnight. So far today the situation has remained quiet. Here are the latest details as reported from JFNA’s Israel Office:

Rockets

  • An additional 60 projectiles were fired at Israel from Gaza overnight, following the 70 that were shot on Tuesday.
  • Red Alert sirens sounded dozens of times during the night, throughout the area close to the Gaza Strip. Many residents spent the night in shelters.
  • Click here to see a photo of Israeli passengers on a train taking cover during a siren late yesterday.
  • Many rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system. Others landed in open fields. (See here for a map of rocket landings.)
  • Hamas and Islamic Jihad have issued a joint statement saying that “Blood will be paid for with blood.”

On the Ground

  • Eight Israelis were lightly wounded during attacks overnight.
  • A number of properties were damaged, including a house in a kibbutz in the Eshkol Municipality, as well as the playground of a kindergarten hit yesterday. In this video, the IDF’s Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus (who gave a briefing to Federations on a conference call last week) can be seen surveying the damage that occurred before the children arrived for the day.
  • All school trips and other outdoor activities within a 10-mile radius of the Gaza border have been cancelled today.
  • Attempting to maintain daily life and routine as much as possible, schools and colleges in the region remain open today. All educational institutions have significant protected areas to shield from rocket hits. Students have been instructed to remain within a 15-second run of protected rooms at all times. The Ministry of Education stated that 75% of students in the region showed up to classes this morning.
  • Only one Israeli remains hospitalized from injuries that were suffered during the attacks of the last 36 hours.
  • One of the rockets fired from Gaza struck equipment that provides electricity to the southern Gaza Strip, knocking out power to thousands of Palestinians. The damage to three power lines leading to Gaza is preventing the flow of electricity to tens of thousands of Gazans and will take several days to repair.

IDF Response

  • Responding to the continued Hamas and Islamic Jihad attacks from Gaza, the IDF struck 65 terror sites in Gaza.
  • Targets included drone storage facilities, rocket manufacturing sites, military compounds and terrorist training facilities.
  • A map of the targets hit can be seen here.
  • The Israel News Channel quoted an unnamed Israeli leader as saying, “The IDF struck a significant blow (to Gazan militant groups) last night. If the (rocket) attacks continue, our efforts against Hamas will escalate.”

Diplomacy

  • Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the country’s top military and political leadership on Tuesday evening. Following the meeting, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said the country was “at the closest point to the threshold of war” since Operation Protective Edge four years ago.
  • Some commentators have speculated that the latest Hamas attacks may have been directed by Iran, seeking to hurt Israel, without complicating its relations with Russia. See here, for example.
  • Reports overnight indicated that Egypt was attempting to broker a ceasefire.
  • Early this morning, Hamas reported that an understanding on a ceasefire has been reached. “Palestinian factions will abide by calm as long as (Israel) abides by it,” Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shehab said.
  • The only Israeli leader to comment has been Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who stated that no agreement has been reached.  Nonetheless, unnamed Israeli sources have said that Israel will not strike additional targets in Gaza as long as the rocket fire is not renewed.
  • Since very early in the morning, the area has remained quiet.

International Reaction

  • Internationally, many nations have condemned Hamas.
  • The United States called on the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday in New York to condemn the Gaza rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.
  • Jason Greenblatt, the US special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, tweeted: “Reprehensible – mortars fired from Gaza at a kindergarten and community in Israel! Hamas has failed – all it can offer is terror. Palestinians in Gaza need real leaders to work on Gaza’s real problems with its water, its economy and so much more.”
  • The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying, “France condemns these unacceptable attacks, which are targeted at civilians, thankfully without fatalities. France’s commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering.”
  • The Italian Embassy in Israel tweeted, “Full solidarity to Israel and Israeli people for the brutal mortar shelling from Gaza [which] landed just outside a kindergarten while kids were starting daily activities. We condemn unconditionally any indiscriminate attack and we stand firmly by the Israeli communities at Gaza border.”
  • Chair of Israel’s Yesh Atid Party (opposition) in Israel, Yair Lapid, tweeted: “Good to see the world condemn today’s terror attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians. Now our friends and allies need to translate their condemnations into unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend itself and act against the terrorism of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.”

Federation and Federation Partners on the Ground

  • The Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel office is in close contact with our partners and with the Israeli government (through the National Emergency Authority), monitoring the situation and assessing needs on the ground.
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel reports that all of its absorption centers in the region have been briefed on Home Front Command guidelines, as have other activities in the area.
  • The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Centers for Independent Living have opened their services available in emergency situations. Recipients are now able to access special services as needed.
  • World ORT is currently focusing on monitoring the Home Front Command’s instructions for their schools in the Gaza region: the Kfar Silver Youth Village and four affiliated schools: Shemma, Nofei Habesor, Makif Aleph and Sha’ar Hanegev. World ORT also operates other facilities in the south: the Technological College in Be’er Sheva and the Excellence Centers. Leadership has convened an emergency meeting in order to identify needs in their educational network.
  • The Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) is mobilizing its resources. In the past 24 hours, there has been a 1,500% increase in new requests for assistance to ITC Resilience Centers (which are working under emergency protocol) and experience has taught that these requests will further increase in the coming days, regardless of what takes place on the ground.

Extensive resources (including many photos and videos) provided by the Israel Defense Forces can be found here.

Sources: IDF Spokesperson, Walla! News, Times of Israel, Galei Tzahal Radio, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.