As raging fires in Israel caused scores of injuries and widespread fear, the evacuation of more than 70,000, and the destruction of hundreds of homes and businesses, JDC mobilized its Israel emergency response system and wide-ranging network of government of Israel, local municipality, and NGO partners to assess needs and ensure the most vulnerable Israelis aided by JDC are safe and cared.
We remain proud of Israel's stalwart response to this crisis, the aid offered by neighbors and other nations to fight the fires, and especially the outpouring of support by everyday Israelis for their fellow citizens facing so much loss.
Included among those offering such help were Lev Echad – the leading national Israeli NGO providing volunteers that JDC has long supported – which deployed 100 volunteers in Haifa and a group of Arab and Jewish mayors from JDC's Mayor's Forum and from the Beit Ha'Kerem region in Israel's north who rallied to host evacuated families, organize volunteers, and ensure various kinds of assistance.
Reaffirming our support for those most in need in of critical services in times of crisis, we also activated our "Center for Independent Living" online platform for people with disabilities to receive real-time help around the clock. This web-based interactive portal of Israel Unlimited – the JDC partnership with the government of Israel and the Ruderman Family Foundation -- is providing services, including support to calm concerns, and emergency information, for people with every kind of disability.
Additionally, the post-Second Lebanon War preparedness training and cooperative approach to responding to future disasters we promoted among Israel's local emergency responders – firefighters, hospitals, police, and volunteers – has been effective years later during this crisis.
The blazes were especially poignant for us at JDC as our staff, like their neighbors, were also impacted. Some, together with their families, were evacuated and we provided support on an individual basis to ensure their needs were met. Such efforts served as a reminder of the power of a caring community, whether professional or personal, when one is faced with extreme challenges.
As Israel continues to fight the fires, and care for her citizens, we remain at the ready -- standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity -- to respond further, provide aid to the most vulnerable, and help strengthen Israel's social fabric for the future and in the event of another unfortunate crisis.