As of right now, Israel has witnessed more than 24 hours of relative calm. The result is a growing sense of cautious relief throughout the country. While the IDF remains positioned along the Gaza border, officials confirm that Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure has been severely crippled, and that immediate threats posed by terrorist tunnels (which resulted in 11 IDF fatalities) have been removed. With this long-awaited moment of respite, I am reminded that after an anxiety-ridden four weeks, there is still more work to be done.
Like all Israelis, our partner agencies remain cautiously optimistic and report that they are prepared for any and all developments. Guided by decades of experience servicing Israel’s most vulnerable populations, the Jewish Agency for Israel, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Israel Trauma Center and others are well-equipped to provide services to Israelis at this difficult time. Over the past four weeks, tens of thousands of Israelis have found relief through these agencies, in addition to the millions who have benefitted from their work during times of relative peace. Below are two #LivingIt stories that depict the trauma of life under fire.
In the coming weeks, we will shift our emergency response effort and begin to focus on rehabilitation. Like all of you, I pray for lasting peace, in hopes that future generations will not have to repeat the sacrifices made by the parents of Israeli soldiers who fought to protect the Jewish State.
President and CEO
The Jewish Federations of North America
As Sirens Sound, a New Oleh Copes with Life Under Fire
Just a few hours after one Turkish oleh’s arrival in Israel, sirens began sounding. As a result, the first Hebrew words he learned were “siren” and “bomb shelter.”
“The streets were crowded and we followed everyone into the buildings until we heard three [explosions] from Iron Dome. I have two children: a boy, 9 and a daughter of 5. We tried to sleep but it was very difficult thinking of what I would do. My daughter came to me asking of the sounds outside were sirens.
The truth is that our life was good in our old country, but the reason that I made aliyah is that the number of Jews is going down dramatically, and we didn’t want to be the last ones. But I think about arriving here during the moment of the war, with all the sirens and the bombs, and ask myself if I made the right decision for my children, and I start to cry.”
A Family Home Receives Crucial Reinforcement
Three siblings with disabilities – Hefzi and her two brothers – live in subsidized housing in Be’er Sheva that is extremely vulnerable to rocket attacks and not within reach of a public bomb shelter. When sirens blare, the family remains together in their living room, unprotected. The roof, made from asbestos, is in poor condition and is very weak: shrapnel from an incoming rocket nearby could cause serious damage to the home.
The siblings turned to the Center for Independent Living (CIL) for help. The emergency coordinator, together with local volunteers, assessed the family’s situation and the risks they were facing. And the CIL helped Hefzi and her brothers make adjustments to their home and their routine to minimize the danger and help ensure their continued safety and independence.