Israel Needs You Now More Than Ever

Since day one, Jewish Federation of Orange County has been in communication with our national & international partners to understand the immediate needs. We're mobilizing our nonprofit network and donor community to provide help — immediately and strategically, with full compassion and broken hearts.

This is a moment where Israel needs our support more than it has for decades. Please give to our Israel Emergency Campaign and stand with the people of Israel.

Ways to Support

Support Israel by donating to Jewish Federation
of Orange County's, Israel Emergency Campaign

Tell your federal, state, and local elected
officials and representatives to support Israel.

Where are dollars being distributed?

100% of the dollars raised will be distributed to our partner organizations including, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and others to address immediate humanitarian needs on the ground including:

  • Basic Needs: Food and financial assistance for impacted families, the elderly, and the homebound.
  • Evacuation, Housing, Respite, and Support for Frontline Communities: Including support for communities under fire and for new olim (immigrants) living in absorption centers.
  • Fund for Victims of Terror: JAFI’s Fund for Victims of Terror is a vital part of our standing emergency response capacity that provides immediate cash grants to families and individuals impacted by terror and violence for post-trauma care, and more.
  • Trauma Relief and Psychosocial Care: Supporting expanded telephone hotlines, delivering care to first responders, Lone Soldiers, the injured, and families affected by violence, and providing training and support to caregivers and responders, including hospital and municipal teams.
  • Emergency Medical Services and Healthcare: Medical supplies and equipment for first responders and hospitals near the front line.
  • Special Populations: Targeted assistance to vulnerable populations, including the elderly, young children, people living with disabilities, caregivers, and marginalized populations, such as ultra-Orthodox and Bedouin communities.

The needs are great, but so is our resolve and our ability to meet those needs. We do not know what the days and weeks ahead will bring, but we do know that with you by our side, we’ll continue to provide urgently needed relief to Israel and all of her people.

Donations of $10,000 or more may be designated for specific programs in Israel.

For questions, contact Stephanie Epstein, Chief Philanthropy Officer, .

Updates On Israel

March 25, 2024

International Response
A vote passed in the UN Security Council today, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. At the last moment, the US did not exercise its right of veto, allowing passage of the resolution. Earlier, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he would ask members of his government to cancel expected meetings in Washington this week if the US did not veto the vote.
Israel’s Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant is visiting Washington, D.C. to coordinate the next steps in the war with the US administration. Separately, Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and National Security Advisor Tzahi Hanegbi were also planning to visit the US for talks.
After attending a traditional reading of Megillat Esther over Purim, Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to kill Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. He said, “We will unite, fight, and win just as we did in ancient times. We will enter Rafah and achieve total victory. We took out Haman; we will also take out Sinwar.” After again stressing that the IDF would carry out its invasion of Rafah, Netanyahu explained that “absolute evil cannot be defeated when it is left to its own devices.”
The US-based Pew Research Center has released new findings exploring the complex views of Americans about the Israel-Hamas war, including views among Jewish and Muslim Americans. The survey was conducted from Feb. 13-25.Regardless of whether they approve of how Israel is fighting the war, most U.S. Jews (89%) see Israel’s reasons for going to war against Hamas as valid; only 18% of US Muslims see Israel’s reasons as valid.
Around half of Muslims (49%) say Hamas’ reasons for fighting Israel are valid, regardless of how they feel about the acceptability of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel; 16% of US Jews see Hamas’ reasons as valid.
62% of US Jews say the way Israel is carrying out its war in Gaza is acceptable; only 5% of American Muslims agree. Most Muslim Americans (68%) describe Israel’s methods as unacceptable.
Few people in any religious group describe Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack as acceptable (roughly 5% or fewer), including 3% of Jewish Americans. However, among US Muslims, 10% say the way Hamas carried out the attack was completely acceptable and 11% say it was somewhat acceptable.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities
A completely false and fabricated story about IDF soldiers raping a pregnant woman at Shifa Hospital has been circulating on social media. After more than 24 hours of allowing the story to run freely, Qatari-based Al Jazeera deleted the page featuring the item after overwhelming evidence came to light that the facts had been made up.
Rafah is the last bastion of Hamas control. The IDF claims that it has disbanded 18 of 24 Hamas battalions, while four of the intact battalions are in Rafah. Approximately 1.3 million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah, including many who followed Israel’s orders to evacuate northern Gaza to safer territory. Rafah is also a major entry point for humanitarian aid. The United Stated has expressed its concerns over an Israeli operation in Rafah, while Israel insists that entering Rafah is critical to destroying Hamas and safeguarding Israel. Some background and additional information on Rafah:Located on the Egyptian border with Gaza, Rafah has served for many years as a key site for Hamas to smuggle weapons backed by Iran and other terrorist proxies into the Strip. According to military analysts, most of the weapons Hamas used to massacre Israelis on October 7 came through the Rafah crossing.
If Israeli troops enter Rafah, the focus of the fighting will be on engaging entire units of Hamas terrorists, as opposed to targeting individual Hamas operatives.
Senior Israeli military expert Col. Gabi Siboni explained that because Hamas has situated its military infrastructure under civilian homes and facilities as part of its strategy to hide behind human shields, there is no way the IDF can dismantle Hamas in Rafah without causing significant destruction to the infrastructure.
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about a potential military operation in Rafah. President Biden expressed his concerns that a major ground offensive would be a mistake due to the high number of civilians sheltering there. He emphasized that in order to defeat Hamas, Israel needs a strategy that does not put thousands of innocent civilians at risk.
President Biden had invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to send a delegation to Washington to discuss the pending operation. Israel’s Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, and National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi are in Washington this week.
Netanyahu told a Knesset committee last Tuesday, “We do not see a way to eliminate Hamas militarily without destroying these remaining battalions.” The prime minister reportedly told security cabinet members that he never said an operation would take place during Ramadan, which ends on April 9.
Israel looks likely to approve an evacuation plan for Palestinians in Rafah. Netanyahu stated, “I have already approved the IDF's operational plan, and soon we will also approve the plan to evacuate the civilian population from the battle zones.”
Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, often referred to as the person closest to Prime Minister Netanyahu, said over the weekend that Israel will have to enter Rafah, with or without the international community’s (and American) support.
The Egyptian government and military are extremely concerned about an IDF Rafah operation. While officially the main worry is over the fate of Gazan civilians, many commentators have said that Egypt fears that hundreds of thousands of Gazans will storm the border and cross into Egypt. Israel has said that it would do its best to coordinate moves with the Egyptian government.

The IDF has so far arrested and taken for interrogation over 800 suspects at Gaza's Shifa Hospital. In response to accusations that Israel is harming patients and medical staff at the hospital, the IDF published the following statement: "IDF and Israel Security Agency forces are operating in the area of ​​the Shifa Hospital while avoiding harm to civilians, patients, medical teams and medical equipment. As part of the operation at the hospital, the sick and wounded were evacuated to a designated compound in the hospital in order to prevent harm to them….IDF soldiers… facilitated the entry of trucks full of medical equipment, food, and water into the hospital….The medical equipment that was brought into the hospital includes over ten thousand units of medications, hundreds of pain relievers, over a hundred packages of bandages and infusions, and dozens of advanced monitoring devices….about two tons of food and three tons of water were brought in, along with the medical equipment."

The government of Israel continues to debate possible new legislation regarding the ultra-Orthodox draft exemption. War Minister and National Unity Party Leader Benny Gantz threatened to quit the government if the bill passes in the Knesset.

Humanitarian Aid
The IDF has reiterated that Israel allows the full and free entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza on the ground, in the air and from the sea according to the rules of international law.
There is currently no limit on the amount of aid that can be sent to Gaza, and Israel has been encouraging international aid organizations and countries to send additional supplies.
Since the beginning of the war, Israel has facilitated the entrance of over 17,400 trucks of food and medicine into Gaza, carrying over 218,000 tons of aid.
Before October 7, international organizations brought an average of 70 trucks a day to Gaza. The current daily average is significantly more than that – some 125 trucks per day.
However, a large percentage of the aid has been confiscated by Hamas or looted by Palestinian gangs and others who storm the trucks as they enter Gaza.
Israel has said that the United Nations is not ensuring the proper distribution of the food and not allocating enough of its personnel to make sure the food is given out, and not looted.
Israeli officials strongly deny that there is mass starvation in Gaza, saying that there is no food shortage in the southern Gaza Strip (where the overwhelming majority of Gazans are currently living); while in the northern Strip there are some areas that are experiencing moderate levels of shortage.
See the latest facts and figures on Israel’s humanitarian aid to Gaza here.

In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant Israeli retaliations.
The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains negligible, due to Hamas’ significantly diminished capabilities. However today, a number of rockets were fired at the southern Israeli city of Ashdod – a sign that Hamas still has some capacity.
In the Red Sea, the US, the UK and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen. The US military also continues to strike at pro-Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq.

Amid declarations by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that a hostage deal is within reach, Mossad Chief Dadi Barnes is currently in Qatar with CIA Director William Burns, Qatar’s Prime Minister, and Egypt’s Minister of Intelligence, where talks on a new hostage deal continue.

Still being negotiated is the number of Palestinian prisoners to be released in exchange for every Israeli hostage. Over the weekend, it was reported that Israel had agreed to a compromise by agreeing to release considerably more prisoners than had earlier been proposed. Hamas has yet to respond to the new proposal.

In exchange for the release of some 40 women, elderly, and wounded hostages, Israel has reportedly agreed to release between 700-800 Palestinian prisoners. These would include hundreds who are serving life sentences for murdering Israelis in terror attacks.

Hamas' priorities from ongoing negotiations are “stopping the aggression, bringing in aid, the return of the displaced, and a clear reconstruction plan,” said Hamas spokesperson Hossam Badran, according to Hezbollah-owned news site Al-Ahed News. See more here.

Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Israeli hostage Liri Albag's family stated that they marked the Purim holiday by sharing childhood photos of her costumes throughout the years, pressuring negotiators not to forget her as she remains captive by Hamas. See more here.

The defenders of Kibbutz Alumim fought off Palestinian terror squads on Oct. 7 and saved their homes and families.

Remarkably, Israel placed fifth in the world in the newly released UN World Happiness Index. While the study was taken after October 7, it reflects a three-year average (had the data reflected 2023 only, Israel would have ranked 19th – still ahead of the US and the UK). Read more here.

See this story of 23-year-old Amit Lahav from Rishon Lezion, described by her father as “a child of light and love.” Amit loved adventure and lived life to the fullest. She hiked up volcanic mountains in Central America, swam with sharks and ziplined in rainforests. Lahav was celebrating life at the Nova festival when she was murdered by Hamas terrorists. She was looking forward to beginning her university studies just a week later.

March 21, 2024

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities
During extensive, ongoing IDF operations at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, over 350 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists have so far been captured, including numerous high-ranking commanders.At least 90 terrorists and one Israeli soldier have been killed in the fighting.
Dozens of terrorists were hiding in the hospital and firing from its windows.
IDF forces are reporting that terrorists were disguised as patients and doctors, thus endangering the lives of real patients and medical personnel.
According to IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari, IDF troops underwent special training in order to prepare them for the complex operation and adhered to strict measures to mitigate civilian harm. Prior to the battle, the IDF made a warning call to the head of the hospital. The forces were joined by Arabic speakers in order to communicate with patients, as well as by IDF doctors to assist patients in need. The IDF also delivered humanitarian supplies to the compound.
During searches inside the hospital, troops found large quantities of Hamas equipment, including a weapons cache next to the hospital director’s office.
Among those killed was senior Hamas official Faiq Mabhouh, who was hiding in the hospital, from where he was directing terror activity.
The IDF says that no harm was caused to civilians, staff or medical equipment by Israeli forces. It also uncovered $11 million in terrorist funds inside the hospital.
Also, among those terrorists captured was Mahmoud Kawasmeh, who was responsible for planning and coordinating the abduction and murder of the three teenage boys in the West Bank who were kidnapped from a bus stop in 2014. The boys, Naftali Frenkel, Gil-Ad Sha’er and Eyal Yiftah, were missing for days before their bodies were found. This precipitated the 2014 Israel-Gaza war.
The United States has corroborated Israel’s position on the misuse of hospitals by Hamas, stating in a Pentagon release that, “We do have information that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (use) some hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including the al-Shifa hospital, as a way to conceal and support their military operations and hold hostages."
International law stipulates that medical facilities lose their protected status if they are used for military purposes, and that the defending military must provide warnings and consider other protections before attacking a hospital. See these comments on Hamas’ use of hospitals by Rear Admiral Chris Parry, British naval officer, former Director of Operational Capability at the UK Ministry of Defence, and former commander of the UK’s Amphibious Task Group.

On Monday, IDF fighter jets eliminated senior Hamas operatives in Rafah who assisted its military wing in establishing continued control. The operatives were the representatives of Hamas’s senior leadership in Rafah. As part of their roles, they were responsible for coordination with Hamas operatives in the field.
Israel looks likely to approve an evacuation plan for Palestinians in Rafah. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “I have already approved the IDF's operational plan, and soon we will also approve the plan to evacuate the civilian population from the battle zones.”

Humanitarian Aid
The issue of humanitarian aid for the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza continues to be a major issue. Last week, Israel promised to “flood Gaza with humanitarian supplies.”
The US, Israel, and other nations are working together to ensure humanitarian assistance reaches Gaza, whether by land, air, or sea. Currently, an average of 200 trucks per day are arriving in Gaza with medical supplies, water, fuel, cooking gas, and food. Delivery of aid is slowed down by inspections to ensure safety, because of Hamas’s repeated smuggling of deadly weapons in humanitarian aid convoys and ambulances. Click here for more information regarding Israel’s commitment to humanitarian aid.
US Centcom Deputy Commander Vice Adm. Brad Cooper visited Israel this week for talks on the US construction of a port in Gaza for humanitarian aid. The temporary pier will allow for the direct delivery of humanitarian assistance via the Mediterranean Sea; the US is coordinating with Israel to ensure all security concerns are met. Cooper also met with the UN and humanitarian organizations on the ground to ensure that aid would be properly distributed.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Israel is working on a plan that would see Palestinian leaders and businessmen with no ties to Hamas take a key role in distributing aid in Gaza. This would eventually develop into a Palestinian-led governing authority.
Israeli peace activists have delivered Ramadan food aid to the West Bank.
See the latest facts and figures on Israel’s humanitarian aid to Gaza here.

In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant Israeli retaliations.
The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains negligible, due to Hamas’ significantly diminished capabilities.
In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen. Similarly, the US military continues to strike at pro-Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq. Earlier this week, a cruise missile was launched at Israel from Yemen. The missile overflew Eilat and crashed in the desert north of the Israeli southern port city.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented on a possible hostage deal yesterday, saying that “the gaps are narrowing, and I think an agreement is very much possible.” He was referring to a potential deal between Israel and Hamas that would see some 40 Israeli hostages released and a six-week ceasefire put in place. Blinken also noted,“We worked very hard with Qatar, Egypt, and Israel to put a strong proposal on the table… Hamas wouldn’t accept it. They came back with other demands. The negotiators are working on that right now, but I believe it’s very much doable, and it’s very much necessary…. If Hamas cares at all about the people it purports to represent, then it would reach an agreement because that would have the immediate effect of a ceasefire, alleviating the tremendous suffering of people, bringing more humanitarian assistance in, and then giving us the possibility of having something more lasting.”

International Response
Canada has announced that it is suspending arms supplies to Israel. The Israeli government criticized the Canadian decision with Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz saying that “history will judge Canada.” The Jerusalem Post: Canada should be ashamed of its 'arms embargo' on Israel. You can find the response from CIJA, Jewish Federations' Canadian public affairs organization, here.
Following a relatively speedy process, leading to its passage in the House, the Jewish Federations-backed Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act has now been referred to the Senate, where the Committee on Commerce, Energy and Transportation is considering it. Readers are invited to sign this action alert today to urge senators to support the legislation to curb the proliferation of antisemitic content on social media.
An Israeli delegation led by Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzahi Hanegbi is expected to visit Washington next week to discuss Israeli military plans for Rafah, which is home to the last bastion of significant Hamas control. US President Joe Biden had asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to send such a delegation when the two spoke earlier this week. At the same time, US Secretary of State Lloyd Austin has separately asked Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to speak with him and other defense officials at the Pentagon. Gallant will travel to the US next week.
Israel has submitted written assurances as required by the US State Department stating its use of American-supplied weapons is not being used to violate humanitarian laws in Gaza. The US has yet to publicly confirm that it has received this assurance from Israel despite reports that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signed the relevant letter last week.
Out of more than 150 foreign carriers that were flying to Israel before the outbreak of the war, only about 50 have resumed some of their operations in Israel this year.

Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope
President Isaac Herzog will conduct a ceremony to honor the bravery of three hostages who escaped from their Hamas captors only to be mistakenly killed by the IDF, he announced on Wednesday.

Watch the Jewish Federations’ video about Ethiopian olah, Addise, who evacuated to a hotel in Netanya after the Oct 7th attacks, where she discusses the importance of living in a safe place where all of her community's needs are being provided.

Read the story of 22-year-old Cpt. Daniel Peretz, a native of South Africa immigrated with his family to Israel at the age of 13. Daniel is described by loved ones as a young man who was full of life and had a great sense of humor. He was serving as a tank commander when Hamas terrorists infiltrated his base on October 7. For over five months, his family did not know what had happened to him. On Sunday evening, the IDF announced that Daniel was killed on October 7 and that his body was taken into Gaza, where it is still being held. At his funeral, his commander described Daniel as a hero who looked after his comrades and acted like a brother to them. Daniel leaves behind his grieving parents and three siblings.

March 18, 2024

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

  • Following careful analysis of intelligence and other evidence, the IDF announced that Captain Daniel Perez, who has been missing, and presumed held hostage by Hamas, was killed on October 7; his body is being held by the terror group. South African-born Perez was the son of Rabbi Doron Perez, head of the World Mizrachi Organization, and a member of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors.
  • The Israeli government proclaimed an annual national day of remembrance to mark October 7, and the provisionally-named Swords of Iron War. In the decision, it was announced that the war will be commemorated each year on the 24th of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, and that the day will be marked with two state ceremonies: A memorial ceremony at 11:00 for those who fell in the war, and a memorial ceremony at 13:00 for the civilians who were murdered in acts of terrorism. This year, due to the fact that the date falls on Shabbat, the ceremonies will be held on the following day, Sunday, October 27. In addition, a state ceremony will take place – on the first anniversary only – on October 7, the civil calendar date of the terrorist attack.
  • Early this morning, IDF troops conducted a raid on Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, amid intelligence that senior Hamas officials were in the area and using the hospital to plan and carry out terror activity. One IDF soldier was killed in a gun battle in the area of the hospital; there have now been  250 IDF deaths since the ground invasion began. The raid was launched at around 2:30 am and it encircled the hospital which is the largest medical center in the Gaza Strip. As troops arrived at the medical center, Hamas gunmen opened fire from, according to the IDF, "within the hospital compound." Prior to the battle, the IDF made a warning call to the head of the hospital.

Humanitarian Aid

  • The issue of humanitarian aid for the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza continues to be a major issue. Last week, Israel said that it plans to “flood Gaza with humanitarian supplies.”
  • Generally, aid in active war zones where terrorists are hiding and operating within civilian populations poses a tremendous danger to militaries, including the IDF operating in Gaza. Despite the challenging and complicated conditions, the IDF continues to facilitate the continued flow of humanitarian aid from land and air and—for the first time since the war broke out—from sea.
  • Since the war broke out, 312,560 tons of aid have been delivered by Israel into Gaza (as of March 14). Humanitarian aid includes food, water, medical supplies, shelter equipment, fuel, cooking gas and other necessities. 
  • Humanitarian aid is delivered through either Al Arish Port in Egypt, the Allenby Bridge in Jordan, or Israel’s Ashdod Port. From there, all aid goes through Israel’s Nitzana Crossing for inspection.   
  • Additional measures being planned include the floating pier off Gaza's coast that President Joe Biden announced last Thursday in his State of the Union address. A team of experts from the U.S. Central Command is scheduled to arrive in Israel over the next few days to discuss how to carry out this project with the IDF.
  • Delivery of aid is slowed down by inspections, which ensure the safety and security of Israeli civilians. Hamas has repeatedly smuggled deadly weapons in humanitarian aid convoys and ambulances. For example, rice packs served as ammunition pouches for weapons used on October 7 including AK47s, Dragunov sniper rifles, and MPK machine guns. Equipment for terror purposes has also been found hidden in UNRWA shipments. 
  • After passing inspections, supplies enter Gaza through either the Rafah crossing with Egypt or the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel. The Erez crossing, which would have provided another passage for aid distribution, was destroyed on October 7 by terrorists who infiltrated into Israel.  
  • Once in Gaza, international organizations distribute the aid. The ability to effectively distribute aid is hampered both by lack of capacity of UN organizations to deliver the assistance, particularly in northern Gaza, and by often-violent stealing carried out by Hamas members and other armed gangs. 
  • Major John Spencer, who was responsible for distributing aid to civilians in northern Iraq, discussed his own experience as a platoon leader. “No matter the commands to form a line or back up," he said, "nobody would listen. They crowded the security trucks screaming in Arabic, making the soldiers extremely nervous. The crowd began throwing women into the razor wire as they shoved each other for a better position. This caused injuries we then had to help care for. It rapidly became uncontrollable, and I had to give the order to pack up and withdraw.”  
  • Since the beginning of the war, the IDF has increased measures to improve the facilitation of aid. This includes opening a second border crossing, increasing the amount of scanning equipment, and coordinating with other countries to create new channels for the distribution of aid that bypass the aforementioned obstacles.  
  • Earlier this week, Israel opened a third humanitarian aid corridor to Gaza on a new road that was especially paved into the northern zone of the Strip. The road was used by humanitarian aid trucks for the first time on Tuesday, despite complaints from members of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition that the government and the IDF were indirectly helping Hamas. Food for 25,000 Gazans was transferred by the UN on the new road.  
  • On March 7, the first airdrops took place, delivering 750 packages of humanitarian aid with support of the U.S., UAE, Egypt, Jordan and France. These deliveries were coordinated with Israel.
  • For the first time, the IDF prepared for the arrival last week of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip by sea. This was carried out in coordination with Israeli security and civilian authorities, and was facilitated after all the equipment on the ship underwent comprehensive security checks.  


  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant Israeli retaliations.
  • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains very low (less than one per day. on average), due to Hamas’ significantly diminished capabilities.
  • In the Red Sea, the US, the UK and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen. Similarly, the US military continues to strike at pro-Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq.


  • Yesterday evening, the security cabinet delineated the parameters for negotiations on a hostage deal, before Mossad Head Dadi Barne’a departed for further negotiations in Qatar earlier today. According to reports, Barne’a has a “broad mandate” to negotiate a deal.
  • Amid many voices calling on the government to agree to a hostage deal – even at a very high price – was former government minister Yizhar Shay whose son was killed in battle on October 7. Shay told media that even if the killer of his son is currently in an Israeli prison right now, he would favor the terrorist’s release as part of a hostage deal.

International Response

  • The low-cost airline giant EasyJet has announced that it will resume its flights to and from Israel starting March 25. In a first stage, the company will fly to London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Geneva, Basel, and Milan. Flights to other destinations will return in October.
  • In an unusual statement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction has slammed Hamas for “returning Israeli occupation to Gaza with its Oct. 7 adventure.” Read more here.

Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope

  • Read the story of 23-year-old Cpt. Alina Pravosudova, a ballet dancer and aikido enthusiast from Haifa.  Alina served as a combat soldier in the search and rescue team of the Home Front Command and was an officer on duty at the Urim base when Hamas terrorists invaded.  Alina was killed while trying to protect her fellow soldiers from a grenade launched by the terrorists. Described as “a rose in the desert,” Alina had a beaming smile that penetrated the hearts of everybody she met.  
  • Read about Sgt. David Mittelman, 20 a former ultra-Orthodox Israeli who “hovered between worlds,” and fell in battle.

March 11, 2024

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

  • The IDF is said to have attempted to assassinate Marwan Issa, the deputy head of Hamas’s military wing, in an airstrike in central Gaza. According to media reports, Issa was hiding in the Nuseirat camp, and on Saturday night, the IDF carried out an attack on a building where he was believed to be located. Five Palestinians were killed in the strike, although it is not yet confirmed whether Issa, who is considered to be number three in the terror organization in Gaza, was among them.
  • Israel has said that it will move forces into the city of Rafah to eliminate the last Hamas stronghold in the Strip which is located there. The IDF also believes that some of the hostages and Hamas leaders are in the town (earlier this month, IDF special forces rescued two Israeli hostages from captivity in an apartment in the city). Nonetheless, media is reporting that the Biden administration is not expecting Israel to expand its ground operation into Rafah in the near future. In an interview over the weekend, the US President highlighted “deep US concerns over civilian deaths in Gaza” and called the planned IDF operation in southern Gaza’s Rafah a “red line.”


  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant Israeli retaliations. The IDF announced yesterday that it is training to deploy supplies to troops inside Lebanon, in case of an invasion of that country. Commentators suggest that the announcement is likely a way to exert pressure on the Lebanese government (and the international community) in order to have it, in turn, pressure Hezbollah, into redeploying north of the Litani River in order to avoid a full-scale war with Israel.
  • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains very low (less than one per day on average), due to Hamas’ significantly diminished capabilities.
  • In the Red Sea, the US, the UK and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen. Similarly, the US military continues to strike at pro-Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq.


  • Some 134 men, women, children and elderly hostages remain in Hamas captivity, 156 days since they were seized. Israel is understood to have accepted the terms of a hostage deal negotiated by the US, Qatar and Egypt, but Hamas continues to reject the offer.
    • Released hostages have shared harrowing accounts of physical and emotional torture in very harsh conditions. A recent UN report found “clear and convincing information” that sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment has been committed against hostages, and “reasonable grounds” to believe that such violence may be ongoing against those still held in captivity.
    • Egypt, Qatar and the U.S. had been pushing hard for a hostage deal before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began last night, and have called on Hamas to accept the terms of a framework worked out in Paris last month that would put in place a six-week pause in fighting and free some 40 hostages, including women, children, female soldiers and the elderly - in exchange for Palestinian security prisoners.
    • The Biden administration has publicly stated that Israel accepted the broad terms, while Hamas is refusing to agree to the proposal. Earlier this week President Biden said, “It’s in the hands of Hamas right now.”
    • It has been reported that Hamas demanded that a ceasefire must be in place before freeing any hostages. Hamas also demanded that Israeli forces withdraw from Gaza, sufficient aid must be allowed in, all displaced Gazans will be allowed to return to their homes, a large number of prisoners including convicted terrorists will be released, and that it will receive certain machinery that it claims would be used for clearing rubble.
    • Furthermore, Hamas has delayed providing information, such as a list of hostages it is holding, that would allow a deal to progress.
    • In President Biden’s State of the Union address last week, he recognized the 250 hostages, and acknowledged the families of American hostages in the audience that are still being held in captivity. “I pledge to all the families that we will not rest until we bring their loved ones home,” he said. He added that “Israel has a right to go after Hamas. Hamas could end this conflict today by releasing the hostages, laying down arms, and surrendering those responsible for October 7th.” The President also instructed the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a pier off the coast of Gaza that would allow for the facilitation of increased amounts of humanitarian aid.

International Response

  • President Biden announced in last week’s State of the Union address, a new American plan to build a temporary seaport off the shores of northern Gaza.
    • The plan is for the US armed forces to build a makeshift, offshore dock which would serve as an entry-point to Gaza for humanitarian aid. Goods would be supplied by the United Arab Emirates and ships would be examined for weapons in Cyprus before sailing to Gaza.
    • It is also possible that the temporary port may also serve to allow Gazans to export goods in the future.
    • Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that plans to provide aid to Gaza via the temporary port, will “advance the collapse of Hamas’s rule.” He said, “The process is designed to bring aid directly to the residents and thus continue the collapse of Hamas’s rule in Gaza. We will bring the aid through a maritime route that is coordinated with the US on the security and humanitarian side, with the assistance of the Emirates on the civil side, and appropriate inspection in Cyprus, and we will bring goods imported by international organizations with American assistance.”
    • Israeli Ynet news outlet reported today that the idea of the temporary port originated from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    • With other airlines having largely suspended flights to Israel since October 7, El Al announced that its profits for the fourth quarter of 2023 were up 370%. Read more here.

    February 20, 2024


    • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets. Yesterday, an Israeli soldier was killed and eight others were wounded as a barrage of at least 11 rockets fired from Lebanon slammed into Safed and an army base nearby. In response to the attack, the IDF launched widespread airstrikes against targets belonging to Hezbollah.
    • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains very low, due to Hamas’ significantly diminished capabilities.
    • In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen. Similarly, the US military continues to strike at pro-Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq. 

    Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

    • The IDF said today that it has “credible intelligence” that Hamas held hostages at Nasser Hospital in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, and there may be bodies of hostages currently hidden there. The military said it is conducting a “precise and limited” operation inside the hospital, and the IDF spokesperson said, “We have doctors and Arabic-speaking IDF officers on the ground to communicate to the staff and patients inside the Nasser Hospital. Our message to them is clear: We seek no harm to innocent civilians. We seek to find our hostages and bring them home. We seek to hunt down Hamas terrorists wherever they may be hiding.” (Watch the IDF’s spokesperson’s full statement here).
    • Egypt remains strongly opposed to a large-scale Israeli incursion into Rafah, but the IDF says that the city, which lies on Egypt’s border, contains the last significant bastion of Hamas fighters and leaders, as well as most, if not all, of the hostages. Egypt has expressed concern over a possible humanitarian crisis since more than a million Gazans have taken refuge in Rafah. But it is also clear that Egypt fears a storming of its border by hundreds of thousands of Gazans, and the consequences of this population moving into sovereign Egyptian territory.
    • Rafah background:
      • Rafah is serving as a refuge for an estimated more than 1.3 million Palestinians who have evacuated areas where the fighting has been focused. President Biden has urged Israel to create a plan to ensure the safety of civilians before launching a major military operation in the city. The IDF says it is drawing up plans.
      • Rafah, and the border crossing with Egypt, remains under Hamas control, which allows the terror group to control much of the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza. The city has historically been a site of smuggling weapons into the Strip.
      • Hamas’s last remaining battalions and its top leadership - as well as most of the Israeli hostages - remain underground in the city.
      • According to military analysts, most of the weapons Hamas used to massacre Israelis on October 7 came through the Rafah crossing. Retired U.S. army officer and FDD Senior Director Brad Bowman explained the strategic value of destroying Hamas infrastructure in Rafah. “They also need to get after those tunnels that Hamas leaders are using to escape and also to bring in additional weapons so they can prepare for the next October 7th.”
      • Prime Minister Netanyahu said last week, “It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war of eliminating Hamas by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah.” He added that Israel is working on a “plan for evacuating the population and destroying the battalions.”
      • NSC Spokesman John Kirby reiterated the U.S. position that Israel should create a credible plan for the safety of Palestinian civilians in Rafah before the IDF enters the city. He also emphasized that “We never said that they can’t go into Rafah to remove Hamas.  Hamas remains a viable threat to the Israeli people.  And the Israelis and the IDF, absolutely, are going to continue operations against their leadership and their infrastructure, as they should.  We don’t want to see another October 7th.” 
      • To complicate matters, Hamas has an interest in concentrating large numbers of civilians in Rafah as opposed to allowing them to evacuate to the nearby designated civilian zone of Al-Mawasi. This is Hamas’s strategy of using civilians as human shields to try to get international bodies to pressure Israel to stop its military operations.
      • In the early hours of Monday morning, the Israeli army and elite police commando units conducted one of the most dramatic rescue missions in its history. Based on precise intelligence, a raid was carried out on a building in Rafah that led to the successful and heroic rescue of two Israeli hostages, Louis Har, and Fernando Marman.


    • Senior Israeli officials remain engaged in negotiations to reach a new deal on the hostages, despite Hamas’ earlier demands that Israel said could not be met. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said yesterday that, “This week we freed two of our hostages in a brilliant military operation. As of now, we have freed 112 of our hostages in a combination of strong military pressure and tough negotiations. This is also the key to freeing more of our hostages: Strong military pressure and very tough negotiations. Indeed, I insist that Hamas drop its delusional demands. When they do so, we will be able to move forward.”
    • According to many reports, the main current obstacle to a new hostage deal is the number and profile of Palestinian prisoners who would be released. Critically, Hamas is demanding the release of a large number of terrorists who have been convicted of murder, including those who took part in the October 7 massacres.

    International Response

    • Yesterday, Israel’s Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant spoke with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Gallant briefed the Secretary on IDF activities and operational achievements, including the successful operation conducted this week to release two hostages held in Gaza. Gallant emphasized the importance of ongoing military pressure and additional efforts to ensure the release of hostages. He also expressed his appreciation to the U.S. Administration for their leadership and commitment to ensuring the return of hostages.
    • The Lebanese government is involved in talks with foreign powers including White House Special Envoy Amos Hochstein about ways to avoid an escalation of Israel-Hezbollah tensions. The main principle of the talks is the potential implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which requires Hezbollah to redeploy north of the Litani River, and the Lebanese Army to move its forces to resume control of the Lebanon-Israel border. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati said yesterday that the situation in southern Lebanon is still precarious but there is “progress towards long-term stability.” He also told reporters that Lebanon supports the full implementation of Resolution 1701, but would require support for its national army if it is to deploy its forces along Israel’s border.
    • Despite tensions over Rafah (see above), Egypt says that it remains committed to its relationship with Israel, and to acting as a mediator in hostage talks. Discussing the Israel-Egypt peace accords, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Samekh Shukri said yesterday that “the agreement is over forty years old and we shall continue to adhere to it.”
    • FBI Director Christopher Wray made an unannounced trip to Israel to meet with the country’s law and intelligence agencies. He also met with FBI agents based in Tel Aviv, according to a statement from the Bureau, stressing the importance of their work on Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope

    • Read the story of 43-year-old Police Commander Jayar Davidov, husband of Inbar and father of four children. Jayar was dedicated to protecting the citizens of Israel through his service as the commander of the police station in the Bedouin community of Rahat. He was described by Israel’s Police Commissioner as a man who “always had a sparkle in his eye.” Jayar immediately left his home on the morning of October 7th when he was notified that terrorists had invaded the area of Re’im. He was killed during the fighting. A few weeks later, his daughter Tal decided to join the Border Police to follow in the footsteps of her father.
    • The Times of Israel: Near Gaza, apprehensive returnees trickle back home to revive deserted communities

    Further Reading

    Jewish Federations Resources

    • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now raised a total of more than $780 million and allocated close to $350 million. For details, click here.
    • See these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
    • The Biden Administration has issued a new executive order to impose sanctions against four Israelis it said had committed violence in the West Bank. See this Jewish Federations’ backgrounder for more information.
    • Convening on the Future of Israel Educational Travel: The Israel Educational Travel Alliance (IETA), the consortium of over 100 Israel educational travel organizations housed at Jewish Federations of North America, will hold a convening in Washington, DC from Wednesday, February 28 to Friday, March 1 to assess the future of the field of Israel educational immersive travel in the wake of 10/7. We welcome all Federation professionals who are involved with Israel-immersive experiences to participate. Register here. For more information, take a look at the FAQs or contact for more information.
    • Jewish Federations recently released the Israel Emergency Impact Report & resource package to articulate the system-wide impact in Israel since 10/7. Watch a recent webinar (recording here) to learn more about this data, and the allocations processes.
    • Registration for Birthright Israel’s summer round is now open. See this link for important information to help potential participants and their parents navigate any concerns over the security situation. Interested parties can reserve their spot hereRegistration is also open for Onward’s summer internships and fellowship programs – an opportunity for Birthright Israel alumni and those looking for a longer experience in Israel. 
    • As part of the Second Line initiative, Jewish Federations are partnering with the Israel Ministry of Health, the Israel Trauma Coalition, and Birthright Israel to recruit qualified volunteers to provide both in-person and remote support to affected populations and local mental health professionals in Israel. Native Hebrew speakers are particularly in demand, although speakers of French, Russian, Ukrainian, Arabic, Amharic, and Spanish will also be considered. Volunteers must be able to travel to Israel for six weeks. This is a golden opportunity for engagement, particularly for communities that can recruit a small group as a cohort. To apply, click here. For more information, contact Hannah Miller.
    • Jewish Federations’, 10/7 Project is a collaboration with AJC, AIPAC, ADL, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The 10/7 Project is an organized effort to counter the disinformation about the attacks of October 7th and Israel’s response, especially aimed at the key media and government influencers. See here for more information about the 10/7 project, as well as this news bulletin.
    • Resources: Readers can see links to resources, background, research, and other information on the current war here; can access a Jewish Federations toolkit here, and can refer to the Community Mobilization Center Resource Hub for the latest talking points and tools. 
    • Details: For information on the latest overall numbers from the conflict, see here.
    • Webinar: The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI): Daily webinars sponsored by Jewish Federations and the Jewish Agency are offered. A rotating team of analysts of Israeli military affairs, the US-Israel relationship, Israel’s political system, and of the country’s diverse society will speak every Monday and Thursday from 11-11:30 am ET. No registration is required. Join here.
    • Volunteering: Read this updated Jewish Federations’ update on the latest volunteering opportunities in Israel right now.
    • Local Authorities: Jewish Federations have produced a document answering questions about funding-impacted localities and municipalities in Israel. See here
    • Read the latest communication from the Community Mobilization Center here.
    • Previous updates can be found here.

    February 12, 2024

    Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

    • In what is being described as a “daring and complex operation,” Israeli special forces rescued two hostages from Hamas captivity in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip last night. The IDF has confirmed that Fernando Marman, 61, and Louis Har, 70, were both in reasonable condition after being rescued, following an operation that involved battles with Hamas terrorists and massive Israeli airstrikes in Rafah. The two hostages had been abducted from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on the morning of October 7 and spent 129 days in captivity. The joint operation by the police’s elite Yamam counterterrorism unit, the Shin Bet security agency, and the IDF began at around 1:00 am, and forces breached the apartment at 1:49 a.m., killing the three terrorists guarding the hostages and then protecting the two hostages to allow an extraction. See the IDF’s full briefing on the rescue mission here.
    • The two rescued hostages, both Argentinian-born Israelis, are reported to be weak but in good condition. See here for further details of the operation, and watch the hostages’ reunion with their families here.
    • Overnight, two soldiers fell in battle in Gaza; both were sons of prominent Israeli doctors. Sgt. First Class Adi Eldor, 21, of the Commando Brigade’s Maglan unit, from Haifa, is the son of Dr. Liron Eldor, a senior plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Rambam Hospital. He is also the grandson of gynecologist Prof. Yosef Itzkowitz-Eldor of Rambam and the Technion, who was a pioneer in the fields of fertility medicine and stem cell research in Israel. Sgt. First Class (res.) Alon Kleinman, 21, of the Commando Brigade’s Maglan unit, from Tel Aviv is the son of Prof. Guy Kleinman, head of Wolfson’s ophthalmology department. See details of all the fallen soldiers here.
    • With the north and center of Gaza largely under IDF control, and considerable military gains by Israel being recorded in the southern city of Khan Younis, the last remaining Hamas stronghold is the city of Rafah.
      • Located on the border between Gaza and Egypt, the city has seen a massive influx of Palestinians from the rest of the Strip, and now contains around six times the number of people it had on October 7. Its border location makes the city especially vulnerable, and Egypt, fearing a rush of hundreds of thousands to the border, has said that Israel should not attack Rafah. The international community is also largely opposed, with the US calling on Israel to refrain from attacking the city until a “credible plan” for its citizens is formulated.
      • Nonetheless, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue, and said over the weekend that it is impossible to eliminate Hamas if four Hamas battalions are allowed to remain there.
      • It is understood that Hamas’ top leadership--as well as most of the Israeli hostages--remain underground in the city. Given that hundreds of thousands of Gazans have taken refuge in makeshift camps there, the IDF says it is drawing up plans to evacuate civilians ahead of a possible ground attack.
      • Read more about possible operations in Rafah here.
    • The IDF uncovered a large, strategic tunnel that contained a sophisticated Hamas computer server farm. The discovery of the servers represents a significant intelligence find. The servers contain large amounts of valuable information that will assist the IDF in the ongoing war.
      • The tunnel itself is located directly beneath a UNRWA office building, but the organization says that it was not aware of any Hamas activity below ground in the area. Israeli officials expressed skepticism over that claim, questioning how UNRWA personnel could have been unaware of hundreds of Hamas terrorists digging tunnels and entering and leaving the facilities directly underneath a major UNRWA complex.

    Over the weekend, the IDF said that according to its estimates, 60% of the humanitarian aid entering Gaza ends up in the hands of Hamas. It is estimated that the value of aid confiscated by Hamas since the beginning of the war is approximately $130 million.

    Click Here for the complete report.

    January 25, 2024

    Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

    • With the death of 21 IDF soldiers on Tuesday, Israel suffered its worst loss of life incident since October 7. The troops came under attack in the southern Gaza Strip when an explosion destroyed two buildings with soldiers inside them. The buildings, close to the border with Israel, were being rigged for demolition by IDF troops when Palestinian gunmen fired an RPG at a tank securing the forces. A second blast then occurred in the buildings, possibly as a result of a second RPG, leading to their collapse. The soldiers were destroying structures and Hamas sites as part of the army’s efforts to establish a buffer zone to allow residents of Israeli border communities to return to their homes. See the names of all 21 who fell, as well as the reactions of Israeli leaders here.
    • While fighting has subsided in much of the Gaza Strip, large battles continue in the city of Khan Younis where many believe that the hostages, as well as senior Hamas leadership, are located. The IDF killed dozens of terrorists in the city during raids on military sites, uncovered tunnels, and eliminated terror cells. Earlier today, troops in the area killed numerous terrorists in the area by sniper fire and also destroyed terror infrastructure and weapons.
    • Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met yesterday with newly graduating IDF commanders, and discussed reports in the media that victory in Gaza was “not achievable.” In response, he said, “My main expectation is nothing less than total victory. There is no substitute for victory. I hear in the studios, analysts, and all kinds of commentators: 'It is impossible' and 'It is not necessary.' It is possible and it is necessary, neither do we have a choice. Total victory. These monsters will be thoroughly defeated to the end.…What is important, in my view, is your spirit. Your spirit is the spirit of the people of Israel, of the citizens of Israel. I want you to know that I rely on you and I believe in you.... [E]ach one of you carries on your shoulders the destiny of the people of Israel and the State of Israel.”


    • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains low; it has not exceeded ten rockets in over a week. Today, the first rockets were fired in four days. They caused neither damage nor injuries.
    • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets. According to many reports, in response, the IDF has killed numerous senior Hezbollah and Iranian figures in both Lebanon and Syria. Israel has not confirmed that it was responsible for those attacks.
    • In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen.


    • For the second straight day, protesters, including relatives of hostages held in Gaza, have gathered at the Kerem Shalom crossing to try to prevent relief trucks from entering the Strip; they are demanding that aid be cut off until the captives are freed.
    • Conflicting reports suggest that Israel and Hamas could be on the verge of a new deal that would see a staggered release of hostages alongside a break in fighting for two months, as well as a mass release of Palestinian prisoners. However, other reports deny that such a deal is close.
    • It is believed that 132 hostages remain in Gaza. The IDF, citing intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza and elsewhere, has confirmed the deaths of at least 28 of them,  Hamas has also been holding the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since 2014, as well as two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are both thought to be alive after entering the Strip of their own accord in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

    International Response

    • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, Netherlands plans to issue its ruling in open court on Friday at 7 am ET on South Africa’s request that it order Israel to stop its war in Gaza. See more here.
    • Meanwhile, new evidence has revealed what appears to be a network of several South African organizations and straw-man companies that are deeply involved with funding Hamas activities through the Al-Quds Foundation, an international group that has been both sanctioned by the US and outlawed by Israel. They are using accounts registered in major local South African banks, including Standard Bank, Nedbank, and Absa.
    • British Foreign Secretary David Cameron told Prime Minister Netanyahu that more aid trucks must be able to enter Gaza and that an immediate humanitarian pause is needed to help those who are now trapped in a “desperate situation.” Cameron, who is presently on a visit to the Middle East, during which he has met separately with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, announced that Britain and Qatar are working together to get more aid into Gaza. They are sending an initial joint consignment of tents; they are being flown into Egypt today before traveling by road to Gaza.

    January 22, 2024

    Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

    • As of today, 195 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the ground war began in Gaza; a total of 527 have died since October 7. See details of all the fallen soldiers here.
    • As fighting continues in Gaza, troops have discovered another elaborate tunnel system where it has been confirmed that hostages have been held. The IDF has released a video shot inside the tunnel with a camera held by a soldier as he traverses the very long underground structure. The footage includes views of cells where hostages were held.
    • Since the beginning of the war, 12,000 trucks with 1,052 tons of medical equipment have entered Gaza. In coordination with the international community, the IDF continues to facilitate humanitarian and medical assistance efforts for Gazan civilians. See additional details here, as well as here.
    • In line with statements repeatedly stressed by Israel’s political leadership from the onset of the war that the battle is being waged against Hamas and not against the Palestinian people, last week IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari provided an in-depth explanation of efforts made by the military both to prevent civilian casualties and to promote the humanitarian welfare of the Palestinian people. He said, “Hamas sees civilian deaths as a strategy.  We see them as a tragedy.”
      • Chief of Staff of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) Omer Tischler addressed claims about civilian deaths by demonstrating how the IAF has conducted “a precise, focused and process-based campaign.” He stressed that evacuation of civilians before attacks allows the IAF to strike and maneuver in areas with minimal civilian presence. He also explained that in war “mistakes can happen,” and the IAF seeks to  learn from them. 
      • The IDF has revealed numerous examples of strikes that were aborted due to a heavy presence of civilians in close proximity to the target. 
      • The IDF operates a ‘Civilian Harm Mitigation Unit’ made up of senior IDF commanders, intelligence officers, Arabic-speaking soldiers, legal advisors, and other professionals.   They monitor the implementation of evacuation recommendations, including by using open-source tools and intelligence sources in real time. According to the IDF, “updated data is continuously fed to IDF air, naval, and ground forces operating in Gaza to increase their awareness of the civilian environment in areas of operation. While it is impossible to completely avoid civilian harm for the reasons detailed above, this mechanism has proven effective in the current hostilities and has saved many lives.” 
      • In addition, all military operations carried out by the IDF are coordinated by the Military Advocate General (MAG) Corps, which is responsible for implementing the rules of war within the IDF. Within the MAG, an International Law Department acts “to assist the IDF to achieve its objectives by the law, and specifically international law.” Furthermore, IDF military lawyers are involved in advising commanders on the legal aspects of warfare.  
      • Professor Malcolm Shaw, the legal counsel who defended Israel’s case before the ICJ, explained that in contrast to arguments advanced by South Africa, the operations directorate of the IDF issues a daily operational directive that is binding on all IDF forces. It  instructs that “[a]ttacks will be solely directed towards military targets while adhering to the principles of distinction, proportionality, and the obligation taking precautions in attacks to reduce collateral damage. The laws of armed conflict allow destruction to civilian property only when there is a military necessity to do so and prohibit harm to property for deterrence purposes only or the purpose of punishment, individual or collective.  It is necessary to treat enemy civilians with respect. They should not be treated in a humiliating manner and civilians should not be used to perform activities that might put them at risk to their life or their body.”  
      • He also gave examples demonstrating the IDF’s compliance with international law in proportionately attacking military personnel and in mitigating civilian harm. To accomplish the latter, the IDF warns civilians of impending action by the extensive use of telephone calls, leafletting, and so forth; these measures are augmented by the facilitation of humanitarian assistance and the establishment of safe zones. 


    • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains low; it has not exceeded ten in over a week.
    • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets. In response, according to many reports, the IDF has used targeted strikes to eliminate numerous senior Hezbollah and Iranian figures in both Lebanon and Syria. Israel has, however, not stated publicly that it was responsible for those attacks.
    • In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen.


    • Israel and Hamas are reportedly resuming negotiations on a new hostage deal. Hamas is demanding a full withdrawal of all IDF forces from the entire Gaza Strip, the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, and international guarantees that Hamas will be allowed to remain in power in Gaza. Israel has previously said that all of these demands are untenable, but it is nonetheless willing to negotiate.
    • At the same time, thousands of Israelis have been demonstrating daily, calling on the government to compromise and do more to bring the hostages home. Last night, a group of hostages’ families and protesters blocked off traffic outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private residence in Jerusalem; they  demanded that the government reach an immediate deal to ensure the return of the remaining hostages.
    • It is believed that 132 hostages remain in Gaza. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of at least 28 of them, citing intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza and elsewhere. Since 2014, Hamas has also been holding the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, as well as those of two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed,  who entered Gaza of their own accord in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

    International Response

    • A high-ranking Hamas delegation visited Russia last week. Following the Moscow meeting, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on Hamas to release the hostages, including three of whom who hold dual Russian-Israeli citizenship.
    • A report in Lebanese media claims that a European Ambassador of an unnamed country warned the Lebanese government that there is a heightened probability of an Israeli war against Hezbollah given both the large number of attacks that have originated in Lebanon and the fact that Hezbollah is not complying with UN Security Council Resolution 1701. According to reports, the Ambassador told his Lebanese contacts that US and French intervention have so far kept the IDF from launching a full-scale war, but that Israel’s patience is wearing thin. Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said last week that if Hezbollah does not comply with Resolution 1701, there may be no option but to use force to compel the terror group to redeploy north of the Litani River as stipulated by the UN. Israel and Western powers are hopeful that the Lebanese government in Beirut will be able to exert pressure on Hezbollah to cease its attacks on the Jewish state and thus avoid a stronger Israeli response.

    Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism and Hope

    January 8, 2024

    Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Operations

    • The IDF says that it has completed “dismantling Hamas’ military framework” in the northern part of Gaza.
    • Meanwhile, intensive fighting took place in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis overnight, with the Israeli Air Force carrying out strikes on some 30 Hamas targets in the area, including underground sites, weapons depots, and other infrastructure belonging to the terror group. At one point, commando troops spotted a group of more than ten Hamas operatives at a rocket launching site in Khan Younis and directed a drone strike, which killed all ten.
    • Over the weekend, Israel’s security cabinet met to discuss "the day after" the war, for the first time.
    • The IDF Chief of Staff announced that he had appointed former Defense Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz to head an inquiry into the errors made by the IDF leading up to the October attack.


    • Hamas rocket attacks on Israel have been reduced to a trickle.
    • In the north, Hezbollah has been slowly increasing its level of rocket and other fire against Israeli targets. Earlier today, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned the Lebanese-based terror group against further escalation, saying that “Israel can easily copy and paste the war in Gaza, to Beirut." Yesterday, Hezbollah anti-tank rockets hit the Israel Air Force’s Meron Air Traffic Control base near the northern border. Nobody was injured, but undisclosed damage was made to the facility, which continues to function as normal, possibly using backup systems.
    • In the Red Sea, Israel and the United States military continue to shoot down missiles and UAVs fired at Israel and commercial shipping vessels, by Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen.


    • Qatar and Egypt continue efforts to reach a new deal that could see the release of some hostages. Over the weekend, the Qatari prime minister met with Israeli hostages’ families.
    • It is believed that 136 hostages remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during the weeklong truce in late November. Four hostages were released before that, and one was rescued by troops. The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered and three hostages were mistakenly killed by the military. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 23 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

    International Response

    • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will arrive in Israel later today on his fifth trip to the Jewish state since October 7. Blinken was in Jordan and Qatar on Sunday at the start of a five-day diplomatic effort in the Middle East, he is seeking to avert a wider war in the region. He is also due to visit the West Bank and Egypt this week.
    • Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited the northern front and met with IDF soldiers over the weekend. In a strong statement supporting Israel, Pence said that although he doesn't speak for the American Administration, he does represent the sentiment of the American people, who stand by Israel. 
    • The INSS think tank reports that since October 7, there have been 7,557 protests against Israel around the world, compared to 602 pro-Israel gatherings. This report cover the only the first two months of the war.
    • This week, South Africa filed a case against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging that Israel’s actions in Gaza constitute genocide.
      • Under the Court’s rules, Israel has the right to appoint one judge to the 15-justice panel. Earlier today, Israel announced it would send retired Supreme Court President Aharon Barak. Barak, a Holocaust survivor, is one of Israel’s foremost jurists and a world-renowned expert in international law and how the legal system interacts with security and defense decisions. The decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to appoint Barak surprised many commentators due to Barak’s background as the instigator of judicial reforms that the current coalition had been trying to overturn for most of 2023. Nonetheless, the decision has been universally praised by legal experts and others, who say that Barak is the best-suited person for the role.
      • British international law and human rights expert Prof. Malcolm Shaw will defend Israel before the court.
      • Israel’s National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi stated, “The Jewish people have experienced genocide more profoundly than any other nation, with six million of our people brutally slaughtered. A similar cruelty was inflicted on Israeli citizens in the massacre of October 7th, but this time we can defend ourselves against those seeking our destruction. The absurd petition against the right of the victim to self-defense is disgraceful, and we expect all civilized nations to stand with our determination.”
      • In response to the South African case, U.S. National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby this week described the filing as “meritless, counterproductive and completely without any basis in fact.”
      • The defined concept of genocide is relatively new, coined by a Polish lawyer in only 1944 to describe actions taken by the Nazis, including attempts to eliminate the Jewish people. The legality of the concept was established by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
      • The key element in the convention is that in order for killings to be described as genocide, there must be “a proven intent on the part of perpetrators to physically destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.”
      • Israeli military and government leaders have repeatedly declared that the country is at war with Hamas and not with the Palestinian people. Furthermore, the IDF does not target civilians and has established multiple measures to minimize civilian casualties by international law, including civilians ahead of attacks and establishing safe zones.
      • In contrast, Hamas’s charter calls for the annihilation of Israel and the murder of Jews, and Hamas leaders repeatedly incite violence against Israel and vow to repeat the October 7th attacks until Israel is wiped off the map.

    Stories 0f Heartbreak, Heroism and Hope

    • A young couple who survived the massacre at the Nova Music Festival, returned to the site this week to get married at the location.
    • Under expert eyes, objects retrieved from rubble help document October 7’s horrors.
    • See this story of 26-year-old Ella Hamuy, described as a young woman who “always had a smile on her face” and was dedicated to justice and generosity. Ella lived on Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak and was looking forward to beginning her training to be a nurse this year. Ella attended the Nova Music Festival when she was seriously injured by Hamas terrorists; she succumbed to her wounds three weeks later.
    • The city of Ashdod in Israel's south has suffered some 275 sirens since October 7, meaning that residents have had to run to shelters an average of three times per day for the last three months. Some residents recorded this song of hope for a better future: A great version of "We Are the World."
    • Brother of hostage slain by IDF visits ‘hell on earth’ that was once his Kfar Aza home.

    December 27, 2023


    • After more than 75 days of fighting, Israel continues to make progress in its war with Hamas, having hit over 22,000 targets, killing 5,000 terrorists (including over 70 top commanders), and arresting 500 more. See photos here.
    • Through ongoing operations across Gaza, the IDF continues to uncover large amounts of Hamas weapons, facilitiestunnels, and materials for attacking Israel. Many of these discoveries have been made inside homes, schools and mosques.
    • Around 220,000 Israelis remained displaced from their homes near Gaza, as well as from the area near the country’s northern borders with Lebanon and Syria.
    • "Not your fault": The mother of one of the hostages killed in error by IDF troops, has sent a message of love and support to the soldiers who killed him.


    • Hamas rocket attacks on Israel have been reduced to a sporadic level. Nonetheless, occasional barrages are still fired, some reaching Israel’s center.
    • In the north, Hezbollah seems to have slowly increased its level of rocket and other fire against Israeli targets. Earlier today, a barrage of 18 rockets was fired at Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra on the Lebanese border. The kibbutz, like most towns in the north, has been largely evacuated of citizens. In a separate attack yesterday, a Hezbollah rocket struck a church in Israel’s north, severely wounding one Christian man. When Israeli rescue workers arrived at the scene, a second rocket was fired at the emergency personnel, wounding nine people.
    •  In the Red Sea, Israel and the United States military continue to shoot down missiles and UAVs fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen at Israel and at commercial shipping vessels. Earlier in the week, the US shot down 12 Houthi attack drones and five missiles. Watch this video of the Israel Air Force shooting down a Houthi-launched UAV.


    • A 12-year-old boy who was held hostage by terrorists in the Gaza Strip has described some of his experiences in captivity; they include being beaten by Palestinian civilians and being told by his captors that Israel had been destroyed.
    • The IDF announced on Monday that its troops found a car belonging to an Israeli hostage as well as a Hamas pickup truck at northern Gaza’s Indonesian Hospital. The IDF said that these discoveries demonstrate the terror group’s use of medical centers in the Strip.
    • It is believed that 128 hostages remain in Gaza, following the earlier truce deal that freed 105. Four hostages were released prior to that, and one was rescued by troops. The bodies of 8 hostages have also been recovered and 3 hostages were mistakenly killed by the IDF. Citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza, the IDF has also confirmed the deaths of 22 of those still held by Hamas,. This likely leaves around 100 living hostages, including seven American citizens.


    • US President Joe Biden spoke yesterday with Qatar’s ruling emir, Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, to discuss the efforts to secure the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas.
    • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the PA will return to rule over Gaza despite Israeli opposition, and said that the period following the war will be a “test” for the US to prove that it can keep its word in backing a “revitalized” form of PA rule over the Strip.


    • Lt. Adar Ben Simon, 20: Commander "sacrificed her life like a hero."
    • A new-immigrant soldier who raced home from the front to be at the birth of his first child.
    • Edan, Sahar & Geula: A woman and her two grandsons all captured and killed.
    • An Israeli bus driver drove by a bus stop late at night and saw 20 soldiers who had missed the last bus. The driver called his office and received permission to drive each of the soldiers home.
    • "It could have been us.” Watch the moving video.

    November 21, 2023

    Israel Defense Forces Operations
    As the ground operation progresses, the IDF has completed the encirclement of Jabaliya in northern Gaza. It says that heavy strikes were carried out by artillery and air force units in the area to “prepare the ground for battle.” On the outskirts of Jabaliya, three tunnel entrances were struck with Hamas operatives inside.

    The military also found and destroyed rocket launchers nearby. See footage here of the IDF operating around Jabaliya, and see photos here.

    The IDF also carried out airstrikes against an additional 250 Hamas targets over the past day and hit terrorists, rocket launchers, and military infrastructure. Troops continue to discover large quantities of weapons hidden in civilian locations including in mosques, and even one anti-tank missile was even found under the mattress of a baby’s crib). See the photos here and the video here.

    The level of rocket fire from Gaza remains low, presumably due to Hamas’ diminished capabilities. However, following one barrage last night, a 54-year-old woman was pronounced dead after she collapsed while running to a shelter in the center of the country.

    In the north, rocket and other fire by Hezbollah continues at a steady pace, as do Israel’s retaliations against Hezbollah. Hezbollah has fired more than 1,000 rockets and other projectiles at Israel since fighting began on October 7.

    Meanwhile, 29 premature Palestinian babies arrived in Egypt yesterday after they were evacuated from Shifa Hospital. The babies were transported across the border, a day after they were evacuated from Gaza’s largest hospital, which has become a focal point of fighting. The infants were evacuated with Israeli assistance after troops took control of the hospital over the weekend (see video here). Also yesterday, the first Jordanian field hospital was set up in southern Gaza. See here footage of a captured Palestinian giving information about Hamas’ use of hospitals.

    It has also been revealed that two weeks ago, two Hamas terrorists were arrested in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat,  after having apparently hidden out in the town for a month following their part in the attacks of October 7.

    The Hamas-run Gazan Health Ministry says that over 13,000 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, as a result of the war. 

    The Home Front
    After meeting with the families of the hostages, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed his commitment to securing their release, calling it “a sacred and supreme mission.” He said, “We will not let up until they are returned, and this is the responsibility of me and the war cabinet. I listened to the pain of the families. We spoke heart to heart. I shared with them as much as I could about the diplomatic, intelligence, and operational efforts we are leading around the clock… We will not stop fighting until we bring our hostages home, destroy Hamas, and ensure there will no longer be a threat from Gaza.”

    The country continues to mourn the victims of the massacre of October 7 and soldiers who have fallen in the fighting; and to demand the return of the hostages:

    • In London, the father of Hamas hostage Emily Hand (who turned 9 in captivity last week) pleads, ‘Help me bring her home.’ See here.
    • Watch this video footage from the dashboard of a truck belonging to Oz Davidian, a farmer from the area near the Gaza border who rescued some 120 young people trying to escape the rave on October 7. Davidian made 20 trips between Re’im and his moshav (a 9-mile journey), under fire, taking a different route each time to try to avoid the terrorists.
    • Ori Danino, 25, is presumed captive from the rave. Danino and a friend each left the party in separate vehicles, filling their cars with as many people as possible to help them escape the terrorists. At one point, Danino asked his friend for the phone number of people they had just met at the party, telling him that he was going to go back and save them. That was the last time his friend heard from him. Read more here.
    • A new settlement to be built in the Negev was chosen to be named after Ofir Liebstein, the former head of the Saar Negev Regional Council, who was murdered during the October 7 massacre while trying to save the lives of his neighbors. The decision was made by the prime minister and the housing minister with the intention of "honoring the memory of our friend. It is still hard to comprehend that he is not at our table."
    • Read here about Matan Rosenberg, 17, who was murdered by Hamas on October 7 near Kibbutz Nirim.

    Israel’s coalition government has announced that it will advance legislation to enshrine the status of Israel’s Druze community, amid the climbing death toll among Druze soldiers in the current war. Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior figures suggested they would find a way to complement the 2018 Basic Law: Nation-State of the Jewish People, which the Druze community says marginalizes them. Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and coalition whip Ofir Katz, both of Likud, said the following over the weekend, “In the coming days, we will promote a draft Basic Law for the Druze community, which aims to anchor the important status of the Druze community in the State of Israel.”

    International Response
    Roughly 300 UN diplomats attended a screening at UN headquarters in New York of footage showing atrocities on October 7. The screening of the 40-minute video, compiled by the IDF and featuring uncensored, difficult-to-watch scenes, many taken from Hamas terrorists’ bodycams, was organized by the Israeli Mission to the United Nations. While the footage will not be released publicly, Israeli diplomats have been holding special screenings for journalists, members of parliaments, diplomats, and other influential personalities.

    Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a UN protectorate involving US and Arab forces remaining in Gaza for a transitional period after the war.

    International Committee of the Red Cross president Mirjana Spoljaric met yesterday with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar. Following the meeting, the Red Cross issued a statement that read, “The ICRC has persistently called for the immediate release of hostages. The ICRC is insisting that our teams be allowed to visit the hostages to check on their welfare and deliver medications, and for the hostages to be able to communicate with their families. Agreements must be reached that allow the ICRC to safely carry out this work. The ICRC cannot force its way in to where hostages are held, nor do we know their location. The ICRC does not take part in negotiations leading to the release of hostages. As a neutral humanitarian intermediary, we remain ready to facilitate any future release that the parties to the conflict agree to, as ICRC staff have already done on two occasions.”

    Dramatic footage has been released of Houthi rebels from Yemen seizing a ship in the Red Sea that they say is Israeli-owned. According to Israel, the ship is British-owned and Japanese-run, and no members of the crew are Israeli.

    Israelis of all stripes have come together to support soldiers and bolster morale in the country, many sharing inspiring tales.

    • Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy is developing a strong fan following due to his articulate answers in international media. See his latest interview here.
    • Two couples in Israel were celebrating weddings in adjacent halls when rocket sirens interrupted the festivities. Both families gathered in a bomb shelter - but didn't allow it to ruin the atmosphere. Instead, they continued the celebration together in the shelter, in a perfect showcase of Israeli resilience amidst hardship. Watch here.
    • A touching family reunion unfolded when a father, who had been on reserve duty for over five weeks, surprised his daughter Noga on her 13th birthday. He arrived with a cake in the middle of his daughter’s classmates singing her “Happy Birthday.” While her dad has been away serving the country, Noga has been doing her part as well, preparing care packages for soldiers. Watch the special moment here.
    • Cindy Seni of Netflix’s “Jewish Matchmaking” married her fiancé Eldad, surrounded by 50 close friends and family. (Read more about Cindy on the show here). When the war broke out, exactly one month before her planned wedding date, she struggled with whether to proceed, writing on Instagram: “When the war hit, nothing seemed less important than my wedding. Joy was a commodity we couldn’t afford anymore.” Ultimately, she chose to celebrate her wedding as an act of defiance against Hamas, hoping it would be a “ray of hope and joy in the darkest hour.” Watch here.

    November 15, 2023

    Israel Defense Forces Operations
    As the ground operation progressed, Israeli forces reportedly dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to leave parts of southern Gaza, signaling a possible expansion of operations. The leaflets were dropped near the city of Khan Yunis, and warned civilians to evacuate the area, saying anyone in the vicinity of terrorists or their positions “is putting their life in danger.” Similar leaflets were dropped over northern Gaza for weeks ahead of the ground invasion there. Watch a statement by the head of the IDF’s Southern Command here.

    Meanwhile, Israel struck the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh — who lives in Qatar — in Gaza overnight. The IDF says the home was “used as terror infrastructure and, among other things, as a meeting place for the senior officials of the organization.” (See video of the strike here). Hamas has previously said the IDF hit two homes belonging to Haniyeh and his family, but this is the first strike confirmed by the military.

    Watch the video of IDF battles with Hamas yesterday, here, and see photos here. See photos of captured weapons here.

    Also yesterday, Israeli forces successfully captured Gaza’s port. See footage of the operation and photos here.

    Watch an IDF video of the MRI department at Gaza’s recently captured Shifa Hospital here where large quantities of weapons were stored by Hamas, in the hospital facilities themselves. The IDF is still operating underneath the hospital and other hospitals in Gaza where terror tunnels are used to store weapons and house command and control centers and refuges for terrorists. The IDF says that some of the tunnels under the hospitals may also hold hostages. Watch a report on this by FOX News, from inside Gaza. White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters during a briefing “We have information that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad use some hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including al-Shifa, and tunnels underneath them to conceal and to support their military operations and to hold hostages.”

    The Hamas-run Gazan Health Ministry says that over 11,200 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, as a result of the war. 

    The Home Front
    The country continues to mourn the victims of the massacre of October 7 and soldiers who have fallen in the fighting; and to demand the return of the hostages:

    • Israel is said to be considering a deal that would involve the release of some 50 hostages – all women and children – in exchange for the release of imprisoned Hamas terrorists (all women and minors), and a three-day ceasefire.
    • Read here about Staff Sgt. Aner Elyakim Shapiro who was killed at the Rave is being hailed as a hero for saving the lives of up to seven others. (Graphic content warning).
    • In its empty kibbutz’s dining hall, Nir Oz survivors set places for the 38 killed, and 75 hostages from among its members. Read more.
    • It is now confirmed that a pregnant Israeli woman, kidnapped by Hamas during their October 7 attack, has given birth in Gaza. See more here.

    Reports continue to suggest that a deal between Israel and Hamas that would see the release of 50 - 100 women and children being held in Gaza could be announced within days. Under the emerging outline, the hostages would be released in groups, in exchange for Palestinian women and young people being held by Israel. According to the reports, Israel would also agree to a temporary ceasefire of three days, to allow safe passage for the hostages and an influx of aid for Gazan civilians.
    The level of rocket fire from Gaza remains low, presumably due to Hamas’ diminished capabilities.

    In the north, rocket and other fire by Hezbollah continues at a slow, but steady pace.

    International Response
    U.S. President Joe Biden said that Israel’s operation in Gaza, “will end when Hamas no longer maintains the capacity to murder, abuse, and do horrific things to the Israelis.” Biden said that Israel’s military has “an obligation to use as much caution as they can in going after their targets. Hamas said they plan to attack Israelis again and this is a terrible dilemma.”

    Germany’s interior minister announced raids in seven of the country’s regions on an Islamist association suspected of links to Hezbollah. She stated, “At a time when numerous Jews feel particularly threatened,” Germany will “tolerate neither Islamist propaganda nor antisemitic incitement hostile to Israel.” The police raids targeted the Hamburg Islamic Center and five affiliated groups.

    French President Emmanuel Macron says his country is making real efforts to help secure the release of the hostages. In separate tweets in French, English, and Hebrew, Macron says France is “putting all our efforts, all our strength, into freeing the hostages held by Hamas and allowing their families to be reunited with their loved ones.”

    Yesterday, the UN Security Council approved a resolution calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip” after four failed attempts to respond to the war. The vote was 12-0 with the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia abstaining. The final draft watered down language from a “demand” to a “call” for humanitarian pauses. It also called for “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups.”

    Israelis of all stripes have come together to support soldiers and bolster morale in the country, many sharing inspiring tales.

    • “Hamas’ evil unleashed a fierce love in Israel.” Read more.
    • 130 Gaza border area kids traveled to Hungary to watch the Israeli soccer team compete. See here.
    • Read here about one branch of Israel’s famous Aroma Coffee chain that has closed its cash registers and turned the entire successful café into a hub for volunteers to make thousands of sandwiches a day, to feed IDF troops.

    October 15, 2023

    Key Points
    Israeli society is displaying unprecedented unity during this war and has come together wiith extensive volunteer efforts and aid from various organizations.
    Heroic stories are emerging, including a journalist's rescue by his father and a retired couple's ordeal during a 20-hour Hamas hostage situation.
    The war is impacting Israel's economy, with business limitations and ongoing challenges due to terrorist activity.
    Arab Israelis struggle with the aftermath of the conflict, as questions on ethical considerations and the proportionality of Israel's response arise.
    International support for Israel escalates, with the US dispatching additional military aid, and European leaders expressing steadfast support for Israel.
    Jewish Federations launched a $500 million campaign, offering aid and resources for those affected, while maintaining close collaboration with Israeli authorities and partners on the ground.

    Today is day 9 of Israel’s War with Hamas and this update takes a slightly different approach. In addition to the latest developments, today we will provide links and information focusing on more behind-the-scenes developments and areas, to give readers a better sense of the feeling in Israel.
    Israeli Society
    Israeli society has been galvanized by the war, leading to extraordinary giving and unity. See more in these links:
    Israelis are united as never before
    Israeli artists give their all to console, entertain amid Hamas war
    Legendary show Zehu Ze reunites for war effort
    How Israeli teens can help
    See this ad from Israel’s largest bank, as an example of how commercial entities are supporting the public.
    Jewish Federation partners are also involved in numerous volunteer efforts, including:Many Jewish Agency Masa Fellows are participating in volunteer activities, including assembling food packages, babysitting, conducting deliveries and more.
    Kids studying at a vocational school supported by are helping survivors in the south. Students in the carpentry track created locks for safe spaces in apartments, to enhance their protection, while others in the culinary track prepared hot meals for families in the South.
    Also, JDC converted an employment center in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak into a volunteer hub. So far, 500 Haredi volunteers have signed up and are staffing call centers, visiting elderly, and supporting community services. JDC aims to replicate this model in similar centers throughout Israel.

    Across Israel, hundreds of thousands of citizens are taking part in a multitude of activities to assist soldiers, those evacuated from the south, and others in need. A few, almost random examples:In the ultra-Orthodox city of Elad, youth are making 3,000 sandwiches a day for soldiers at a nearby IDF base.
    In this writer’s street in a city in the center of the country, a call went out on Saturday night from a resident who explained that her son was returning from the Gaza Front for just twelve hours bringing uniforms, socks and underwear from many soldiers in his unit. Dozens of families immediately volunteered to do laundry and he headed back to the front with clean clothes for the whole unit.
    There are endless stories of soldiers entering restaurants, falafel stands and countless other businesses being told, “their money is no good here” with products and services being provided for free.
    Makeshift donation centers have sprung up in shopping malls, parking lots, and multiple other venues. Tens of thousands of Israelis are bringing food, clothing, personal hygiene items, home-baked cakes and cookies to these hubs so other volunteers can get them to soldiers at the front.

    Stories of Heroes
    Every day, we are learning more details, particularly about the events on the first day of the war, and with them countless stories are emerging of heroism, sometimes from unlikely places. See a collection here.
    Haaretz journalist Amir Tibon was rescued from the fighting by his 62-year old father, a retired major-general. See here for more on the story, and here for Amir Tibon’s own retelling.
    Read here the account of journalist Nir Gontarz who traveled south to save his son at the Rave attacked by Hamas gunmen.
    One of the stories that has captured many Israelis’ attention has been that of Rachel and David Edri, a retired couple, held hostage in their home by Hamas for 20 hours. Rachel “bought time” until rescue forces could arrive by, among other methods, cooking food for the terrorists. See more, including video footage, here.

    The Economic Impact of War
    Conflict of this scale has, by definition, a significant impact on both the Israeli and the global economy.  With so many reservists called up, key employees are out of pocket in many firms and businesses, and the Home Front Command has imposed restrictions on hours of operation for shopping malls and many other venues.  Read below for more insight on this aspect of the war.
    How has the war impacted Israel’s economy so far?
    Terrorists stole credit cards from their Israeli victims
    Israeli fintech experts mobilize to thwart financial transfers to Hamas

    Arab Israelis
    Arab Israelis face unique questions any time there is an escalation.  The barbarism and horrific nature of the October 7th attack, has left many struggling.  Read more here:
    Israel’s Arab citizens torn
    Jews and Arabs join forces to help war victims and prevent riots
    Paramedic Awad Darawshe, 23: Killed treating wounded at rave massacre

    Ethical Questions
    A number of ethical questions have arisen in connection with Israeli’s retaliation for the attacks of October 7th and as this conflict continues, we can anticipate that additional issues will come up.  Here are 3 examples.
    Should Israeli hospitals refuse medical treatment to Hamas terrorists?
    Cutting off electricity and water to Gaza: Ethical or excessive?
    Many are discussing the issue of “proportionality” in Israel’s response. See here for a discussion, from British television that includes a forceful response as to why the call for “proportionality” is baseless.

    In the international community, many are asking questions about Israel’s action. Below are two questions, and suggested answers:
    Question: Are Palestinian civilians being targeted by Israel?
    Answer: Israel was attacked by one of the most barbaric, immoral, inhuman organizations that the world has ever known - one that vows to wipe the entire country off the face of the earth. Hamas is a group that purposely targets civilians with documented plans to commit horrific atrocities.  These plans were implemented and included beheadings, burning people alive, killing dozens of babies, raping women, taking Holocaust survivors and others as captives. This evil organization was elected by the people of Gaza.
    Nonetheless, Israel is a humane, law-abiding country, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reflect those values. Despite the terrible crimes committed, and the unprecedented threats against the Jewish state, Israel is NOT targeting civilians, and is even warning Palestinians before it strikes Hamas’ terror and military targets; losing the element of surprise as the price it must pay for keeping Gazan non-combatants out of harm's way.
    Israel has repeatedly warned Gaza’s civilian population to evacuate certain areas to avoid being caught in the violence.  Cynically, disturbingly, and once again demonstrating their complete disregard for human life and civilian populations, Hamas has ordered residents not to leave and to stay in place, despite the warnings that Israel has given, potentially condemning some of their own people to die. And now, evidence has emerged of Hamas blocking the safe corridors created by Israel, forcing their own civilian population to remain in the fighting zone and become human shields and propaganda pawns.
    Question: Why is Israel cutting off electricity and other supplies to Gaza?
    Answer: Hamas, elected by the people of Gaza, is the authority in charge of the Strip, and responsible for the well-being of its citizens. If the hostages are released, Israel has said that it will immediately resume electricity and other supplies, even though, in the past, the regime has diverted large quantities of provisions and aid for military and terror purposes, while its wealthy leadership has squandered urgent resources for themselves.
    For example, we have seen again and again that emergency supplies of much-needed diesel fuel (used to power generators for hospitals, among other purposes) has been redirected to Hamas’ rocket program and other military uses. It should also be noted that in regular times, Israel only supplies 10% of Gaza’s water and 50% of its electricity (a further 25% comes from solar power, and the rest from Egypt and other sources).
    In short:
    Israel is fighting an unprecedented war against a barbaric enemy that has committed horrific atrocities not seen since the Holocaust.
    Hamas was elected by the people of Gaza and is responsible for their welfare.
    Hamas purposely targets civilians and continues to do so.
    Israel does not, and will not, target non-combatants, and gives warning to civilians before attacks.
    Israel will resume supplies to Gaza if Hamas releases the 126+ hostages it abducted including young children, women and many elderly civilians; even though it is well-known that Hamas will almost certainly redirect those resources for military purposes.

    Philanthropic Responses from North America and Israel
    Jewish Federations are raising funds at lightning speed for urgent needs in Israel towards our $500 million goal.
    Business magnate Mike Bloomberg has committed to matching all donations to Magen David Adom. As of Wednesday, Bloomberg had matched $7.5m in new gifts.
    See more on North American philanthropy for Israel during the war, here.
    Israeli philanthropist Ofer Yannay has established a Help Center for IDF soldiers, and also launched a campaign to raise national spirits, including full page ads in all of the country’s weekend newspapers with the slogan, “Am Yisrael will win.”

    The Home Front
    Funerals took place across Israel, as the country continues to bury its dead. Professor Erdan Segal of the Weizmann Institute published data showing that last week’s massacre was the deadliest terror attack anywhere in the world proportionate to the size of the country. Per millions of citizens, the attack was at least thirteen times as deadly as the attacks of 9/11. See here for an account of those involved in the grim task of identifying victims.
    At least 265 families have now been notified officially of the death of family members. Tragically, there are still over a thousand victims awaiting final identification and burial.  This process is extremely difficult due to the fact that bodies have been badly mutilated, beheaded and burned beyond recognition. Forensic teams are working hard to identify them using DNA or dental records. In addition, some 120 families have been notified of the positive identification of their loved ones as hostages in the hands of Hamas.
    See here for a list of the names of those murdered that have been released so far, and here for a site in Hebrew with the names and photos of fallen soldiers.
    View dramatic footage here from an IDF helicopter involved in rescuing injured soldiers during the initial fighting last Saturday.
    Two-thirds of the residents of the city of Sderot in the south have already left their homes, and the remaining third have been urged by the IDF to leave today ahead of an expected ground war.
    Rocket fire has slowed considerably, but has been punctured by barrages, including to Tel Aviv and other locations in the center of the country. See here for video of the impact of a rocket that fell in the town of Bat Yam, just outside of Tel Aviv yesterday.
    While schools and most businesses in Israel are shuttered, there are some signs that elements of normalcy may be returning. The Ministry of Education has announced that commencing Monday, there will be a gradual return to in-person schooling, in safer areas. Meanwhile the Ministry of Health announced that non-elective surgeries would recommence in areas not directly affected by the fighting. A large area around the Gaza Strip remains a closed military zone, to which entry by civilians is prohibited. See map here. Last night, the area within 4 kilometers of the northern border was also closed to all but residents, who were ordered to remain in close proximity to shelters and safe rooms.
    Israeli Reponse
    On Saturday, a small group of Israeli ground forces briefly entered the Gaza Strip.  Based on precise intelligence information, they recovered the bodies of an undisclosed number of Israelis who had been captured by Hamas during last week’s incursion.
    Israeli forces appear to be poised for a ground invasion of Gaza. See video here of troop preparations underway, and photos here.
    Following the IDF warning issued to Gazan civilians to evacuate the north of the Strip, Israel estimates that more than 600,000 of the area’s one million residents have left their homes. Israel opened three “humanitarian corridors” to provide safe passage for civilians. Sadly, and cynically, Hamas has placed roadblocks on these two routes, to stop civilians from leaving the area. See video images of Hamas road blocks here, and still photos here. At one point, Hamas announced that Israel never issued a call for Gazans to leave, prompting IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari to appear on Al Jazeera TV where he told Gazans to leave the area immediately, in his own voice.
    While a full-scale escalation has not erupted in the north, Hezbollah continues to provoke Israel. Yesterday and today, the terror group fired mortar shells and rockets into Israeli territory as well as multiple anti-tank rockets at IDF positions near the border. The IDF retaliated with artillery fire towards the source of fire in Lebanon. In addition, rockets were fired at Israel from Syria today. Israeli media have described the attacks in the north as “more a show of solidarity with Hamas than an actual intent to enter the war.” Nonetheless, the frequency of attacks in the north appears to be increasing.
    Overnight, the IDF carried out ongoing airstrikes against hundreds of Hamas targets in Gaza. Among the targets were terror tunnels, multi-story buildings housing Hamas assets, military compounds, residences of senior Hamas members used as military command centers, weapons storage warehouses, and communications rooms.
    According to Hamas sources, some 2,329 Palestinians – many of them Hamas representatives – have been killed in Israeli strikes, in addition to the 1,500 terrorists killed during the initial invasion into Israel on Saturday.
    Following the formation of the national unity government in Israel, the Likud party announced that Yisrael Beitenu Party chair Avigdor Liberman, a former minister of defense, would also join the emergency government. This has not yet been confirmed by Liberman.
    International Response
    On Saturday night, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to US President Joe Biden for the fifth time since fighting began. The Prime Minister updated the President on latest developments, and the President reiterated the United States’ firm backing of Israel in the current war.  The US has now dispatched a second aircraft carrier, the USS Eisenhower along with its entire carrier group to further bolster Israel in this dark hour; and the United Kingdom is also sending an aircraft carrier.
    The Prime Minister also spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis today. The European leaders expressed their unswerving support for Israel.
    A bipartisan delegation of United States senators led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrived in Israel earlier today and have met with President Isaac Herzog and other leaders.

    October 13, 2023

    Key Points:

    • More than 1,300 Israelis killed, including at least 220 soldiers, 22 US citizens, and 2 Canadians, with over 3,300 wounded, including 350 in serious condition. Additionally, over 6,000 rockets have been fired at Israel, and an estimated 150 Israelis are being held hostage in Gaza.
    • Jewish Federations have launched an unprecedented $500 million campaign to support Israel at this time. See more here. We also announced our first $10 million allocation. Click here for details.
    • For those in Israel – or with family or friends there – who are looking for help, critical information about the situation on the ground, or other assistance, see this resource page put together by Jewish Federations. See also this information page on requests for personal protective equipment which are circulating and this update regarding volunteering.

    On Day 7 of Israel’s war with Hamas, the IDF appears poised for a massive ground invasion of Gaza, and has ordered one million Palestinians in the north of the Strip to evacuate.

    The Home Front
    Hundreds of funerals have taken place across Israel, as the country continues to bury its dead. See here for a list of the names of those murdered that have been released so far, and here for a site in Hebrew with the names and photos of fallen soldiers.

    Rocket fire has slowed considerably, but, following 14 hours of quiet, a barrage was fired at the Israeli civilian population. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Hamas is losing control and that chaos is reigning inside Gaza, limiting the terror group’s ability to launch rockets effectively.

    Schools and most businesses in Israel are shuttered and a large area around the Gaza Strip remains a closed military zone, to which entry by civilians is prohibited. See map here.

    In some unusual moves, special arrangements have been made for Shabbat, mainly with the backing of the Chief Rabbinate:

    • During Shabbat, Home Front Command personnel will be on a specially designated “silent radio channel”, and when necessary, will deliver life-saving instructions.
    • El Al, which does not normally fly on Shabbat, will be operating special flights this Shabbat to carry the large number of IDF reservists who are trying to fly back to Israel to join their IDF units.
    • Israel Railways, which also does not normally operate on Shabbat, will run train services tonight and tomorrow due to the emergency situation.

    Day of Rage?
    Earlier this week, former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called for Muslims and their supporters worldwide to “mobilize for jihad,” and to gather across the world on Friday for a “Day of Rage.”

    In response, Israel’s National Security Council along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called for Israelis and Jews around the world to stay vigilant. In a joint statement, they said, “Against the background of the Swords of Iron War, the Hamas leadership issued a call to all their supporters in the world to hold a 'Day of Rage' this coming Friday (October 13), including a call to go out and harm Israelis and Jews. From this it is likely that there will be protest events in various countries around the world, which may develop into violent events.”

    The Israeli government urged Israelis abroad to remain vigilant, stay away from demonstrations, and, if necessary, keep updated with local security forces about possible demonstrations and riots.

    Similarly, Jewish Federations of North America and the Secure Community Network (SCN) are working in close coordination and with federal, state and local law enforcement to safeguard the Jewish community.  Based on current assessments and absent information provided directly by law enforcement or public safety partners to a specific community or organization, they are advising that organizations can remain open and operational. See more on the Jewish community’s response here.

    Israeli Response
    The IDF believes that some 300,000 Gazans have already fled the area of fighting, and has now ordered approximately 1 million Palestinians living in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes within 24 hours, in apparent preparation for a ground invasion. In explaining the order, the IDF stated, “We are fighting a terror group, not the Gazan population. We don’t want civilians to be harmed, but we cannot live with the rule of Hamas-ISIS near our border.”

    Despite this, Hamas has ordered citizens to remain in their homes. According to some Israeli officials, the Hamas request is “a cynical attempt to ensure human shields and even civilian casualties.”

    Following the IDF order, the United Nations said that it, “considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences. The UN strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded, avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.”

    Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan commented, “The UN’s response to Israel’s early warning to the residents of Gaza is a disgrace. For many years, the UN turned a blind eye to the arming of Hamas and its use of civilian populations and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip for murder and for stockpiling its weapons. Now, instead of standing with Israel whose citizens were slaughtered by Hamas terrorists and which still tries to minimize harm to non-combatants, it preaches explicitly to Israel.”

    The IDF’s Cyber Directorate hacked Hamas’s “Al Aqsa” television station, taking over its transmission yesterday. Messages in Arabic were then broadcast to Gazans calling on them to abandon their homes and escape, ahead of a major attack. Videos were screened of Israeli fighter jets being armed with bombs. At the same time, Israeli planes dropped fliers over neighborhoods in Gaza advising people to leave their homes; while Israeli intelligence services made robo-calls to thousands of cell phones in Gaza with the same messages.

    IDF Chief of the General Staff Hertzi Ha-Levi spoke to Israeli media today and said that all Hamas senior leaders including the organization’s number one figure, Yehia Sinwar, are condemned to die and their organization will be dismantled. This is the first direct threat issued against Hamas leadership who until now had been considered exempt from direct targeting.

    Overnight, the IDF carried out airstrikes against at least 750 Hamas targets in Gaza. Among the targets were 12 multi-story buildings housing Hamas assets. Other targets included tunnels, military compounds, residences of senior Hamas members used as military command centers, weapons storage warehouses, and communications rooms. Hamas claims that 15 of the Israeli hostages it is holding were killed in Israeli air strikes. See here for a video of the thwarting of Hamas operatives who specialize in mortar fire.

    According to Hamas sources, some 1,500 Palestinians – many of them Hamas representatives – have been killed in Israeli strikes, in addition to the 1,500 terrorists killed during the initial invasion into Israel on Saturday.

    There has been no further significant activity on Israel’s northern border, and Israel remain cautiously optimistic that Hezbollah will stay out of the conflict.

    Following the formation of the national unity government in Israel, and after developments of the last week, data indicate that support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has plummeted while those of newly-appointed Minister Benny Gantz, have soared. Results from a poll taken by the Ma’ariv newspaper, suggest that if elections were held now, Netanyahu’s Likud would drop from its current 32 seats to just 19, while Gantz’s National Unity Party would rise from 12 to 41 seats. Support has also dropped, although more modestly, for other parties in the coalition.

    International Response
    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken completed his trip to Israel yesterday. Speaking to media, he referenced photos he was shown from Hamas's assault on southern Israel and said that "it almost defies human comprehension, precisely because it’s not human."

    Blinken also stated, “It’s genuinely overwhelming.  The world’s already seen a lot of these images, but I saw some images today that I hadn’t seen before, and I suspect others hadn’t. I almost hesitate to get into it, but a young infant riddled with bullets; a family hugging each other in a death embrace, having been burned to death; beheaded soldiers; more. It almost defies human comprehension, precisely because it’s not human. And it reminds me in some ways of the worst of what we saw from ISIS a few years ago.  Thankfully, ISIS has been dealt with.  Hamas – not yet.”

    Following Blinken’s visit, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has arrived in Israel and will meet with senior leaders as well as view some of the US weapons and security assistance that the US Government has delivered. US officials said the Secretary wants to underscore America’s unwavering support for the people of Israel, and that the United States is committed to making sure the country has what it needs to defend itself.

    Meanwhile an Israeli embassy staffer in Beijing has been hospitalized after an attack, Israel’s Foreign Ministry says. The diplomat is in stable condition.

    Federation Partners on the Ground

    The Jewish Agency for Israel
    The Jewish Agency’s Fund for the Victims of Terror continues to provide immediate financial assistance to victims and their families. So far, 150 grants have been distributed and more will be disbursed today - this time to victims from Sha’ar HaNegev and Eshkol. The Fund is operating on a wider scale than ever before, and the Agency is coordinating resources to expand its activities to support those impacted. A hotline will also be established shortly to better serve victims and their families.

    The Jewish Agency’s 12 absorption centers in the south house 3,800 olim while 3,900 olim live in the 12 absorption centers in the north. In the past few days, more than 1,600 olim have been evacuated from the south to safer locations and the Agency is organizing various respite activities. They have also partnered with the Association of Youth Hostels to reserve 400 beds in Eilat and 220 beds in Mitzpe Ramon in case there is a need to evacuate olim from northern Israel.

    The Agency continues to work to find alternate flights for olim who were scheduled to make Aliyah but had their flights cancelled; all new olim are being given information kits on how to stay safe during the emergency on arrival.

    Agency shlichim worldwide have organized, attended and spoken at rallies and gatherings in solidarity with Israel occurring on college campuses and in cities globally.

    At the Agency’s Amigour homes for the elderly, staff continue to work to ensure the safety and care of 2,617 residents in housing in the south, and 2,337 residents in the north and center. 

    The Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC):
    ITC’s Southern Resilience Centers have received some 4,000 requests for emotional help and to provide trauma care in evacuated areas. Staff are providing telephone and Zoom assistance when face to face direct care has not been possible. Demand is nearly three times what was recorded during previous crisis situations. In addition, over 5,500 inquiries have been made to ITC’s ERAN hotline.

    Thirty-two centers have been set up for evacuees from the Gaza Envelope, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and ITC. ITC teams are on site assessing needs and providing trauma care in hotels and other centers.

    ITC is also supporting the teams helping families during the process of identification of bodies and with those who have family members missing.

    The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) is providing daily in-depth and inside analysis, sponsored by Jewish Federations and the Jewish Agency. A rotating team of top analysts on Israeli military affairs, the US-Israel relationship, Israel’s political system and the country’s diverse society, will speak Sunday to Thursday, 11:00 - 11:30a.m. EDT by Zoom. Join here.

    For those looking for opportunities to volunteer and assist Israel, please see this guide, prepared by Jewish Federations.

    Jewish Federations Natonal Young Leadership Cabinet recently held a webinar on "How to Talk to Kids about Operation Swords of Iron" with Dr. Jenna Shapiro. Click here for a recording. Click here for a resource guide from Dr. Shapiro.

    Jewish Federations issued a statement on the current fighting.

    Our Israel Office, having activated emergency protocols, is working closely with our partners on the ground, and is close contact with the Government of Israel and the IDF. We will continue to update as the situation develops.

    October 12, 2023

    Key Points
    More than 1,300 Israelis killed, including at least 220 soldiers, 22 US citizens and 2 Canadians
    Some 3,300 Israelis wounded, including 350 in serious condition
    Over 6,000 rockets fired at Israel
    An estimated 150 Israelis being held hostage in Gaza
    For those looking for help, critical information about the situation on the ground, or other assistance, see this resource page put together by Jewish Federations.
    See also this Jewish Federations update on requests for personal protective equipment which are circulating.

    On Day 6 of Israel’s war with Hamas the casualty rate has again risen, reaching 1300 Israelis killed.
    In a massive display of unity with Israel, Jewish Federations have held (or are planning) some 120 solidarity gatherings in communities across North America, as part of an unprecedented effort to support Israel. See here for more.
    The Home Front
    Funerals took place across Israel yesterday, with many more scheduled for today as the country begins the heart-wrenching task of burying its dead. With such large numbers, many are attending multiple funerals and the IDF rabbinate, burial societies and others are working around the clock to enable an honorable funeral for every victim.
    One of the fallen was Bruna Valeanu, a 24-year-old Brazilian-Israeli who was murdered at the Rave. Only Bruna’s mother and sister live in Israel and they were concerned that there would not be a minyan (prayer quorum) at the funeral. A message was sent out on social media asking for volunteers to ensure that wouldn’t happen. Instead of the 10 that they sought, an astonishing 10,000 people showed up for the funeral in Petach Tikva last night.
    See here for a list of the names of those murdered that have been released so far, and here for a site in Hebrew with the names and photos of fallen soldiers.
    Most people from the towns around Gaza have been evacuated, leaving authorities continuing the grim task of collecting bodies, and surveying the severe damage. In some kibbutzim and towns, large portions of the population have been murdered and most houses, cars and other property destroyed. In some cases, it remains unclear whether the towns or kibbutzim will be rebuilt at all. Among other items, in Kibbutz Sufa, Hamas fighters left behind an ISIS flag (see photo here). At the same time, tales of heroism are emerging from the first day of fighting. Read some inspiring stories here.
    Rocket fire continues across the country but has slowed considerably. Seven houses in Sderot were hit causing considerable damage and four people have been injured, two seriously. For ten hours last night, not a single rocket was fired. This could be because Hamas is “pacing itself,” preparing for a protracted battle with Israel, and trying to save supplies; but could also be due to IDF efforts fighting the terror group.
    According to the IDF, Hamas is showing signs of losing control, and its senior leadership may have lost communication with numerous commanders. Schools and most businesses are shuttered and a large area around the Gaza Strip remains a closed military zone, to which entry by civilians is prohibited. See map here.
    At the request of the Home Front Command and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel: During the upcoming Shabbat, Channel 14 will broadcast a “Gal Shaket” to be used for the Shabbat-observant public. During Shabbat, Home Front Command personnel will be on the channel, and when necessary, they will deliver life-saving instructions. The rest of the time the channel will be in silent mode. The silent broadcast will also provide a solution to the hearing impaired, with text instructions provided simultaneously on the Idan Plus TV system. Under the guidance of the chief rabbis of Israel, the channel must be turned and left on from before Shabbat begins.
    Similarly, Israeli carrier El Al, which does not fly on Shabbat, announced it would be operating special flights on Shabbat to carry the large number of IDF reservists who are trying to fly back to Israel to join their IDF units. The company, whose majority stake is owned by an ultra-Orthodox Jew, received authorization from a number of rabbis to fly on Shabbat this week.
    Israeli Response
    With 360,000 reserve soldiers called, in addition to the regular standing army, almost every family in Israel is directly connected to the fighting. See video footage here of reserve soldiers preparing for battle earlier today.
    Since Saturday, the IDF has already carried out strikes against more than 2,650 targets across the Gaza Strip. Overnight, attacks killed Muhammed Abu Shamala, a senior operative of Hamas’ naval forces whose house was used to store naval weapons; as well as Mustafa Shahin, a Hamas operative who filmed and broadcast the terror group’s murders in southern Israel on Saturday. See footage of IDF strikes overnight here.
    The IDF is using videos posted on the internet of the murders, attacks and kidnappings, to identify perpetrators with the help of facial recognition technology.
    According to Hamas sources, some 1,200 Palestinians – most of them Hamas militants – have been killed in Israeli strikes, in addition to the 1,500 terrorists killed during the initial invasion into Israel on Saturday.
    Israel’s Energy Minister Yisrael Katz confirmed that Israel will not reconnect Gaza’s electricity supply until the hostages held by Hamas are released. He stated, “Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electrical switch will be turned on, no water pump will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home. Humanitarianism in exchange for humanitarianism. No one can preach morality to us.”
    While hopes remain high that a significant escalation on Israel’s northern border can be avoided, the IDF has considerably bolstered its forces across the region as a precautionary step. Early yesterday evening, there were reports of 15-20 manned paragliders crossing the border from Lebanon, sounding sirens across Israel’s north. While details around the event have not been released, the IDF confirms that there were no successful incursions.
    The IDF maintains that there is no shortage of essential equipment for soldiers, although acknowledges some logistical challenges resulting from the unprecedented call-up and large number of reserve troops in active service (see photos here).
    Today, the IDF announced that it has already successfully:
    Provided hundreds of heavy weaponry units to IDF units.
    Supplied 24,000 tons of infrastructure materials (asphalt, gravel, and earthworks).
    Employed over 60 construction companies to assist the IDF.
    Established 5 factories for the production of protective equipment.
    Rented hundreds of generators.
    Prepared approximately 1,500 buses for transporting IDF soldiers, focused mainly on reserve forces.
    Delivered over 1,000 carriers, semi-trailers, trucks, and around 1,200 rental vehicles to combat forces.
    Distributed a wide variety of equipment including baby food to the residents of the city of Sderot.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Union Chair Benny Gantz formalized the national emergency government last night. Appearing together, the Prime Minister said:
    “Citizens of Israel, this evening we have formed a national emergency government. The people are united and today its leadership is also united. We have put aside every other consideration because the fate of our country is at stake. We will work together, shoulder to shoulder, for the citizens of Israel and for the State of Israel… I would like to stand by the soldiers, and the security service and rescue personnel, who are working around the clock in all sectors. The entire people of Israel are behind you. I say to you, citizens of Israel, to my colleagues here, and to all of you the words of the prophet Isaiah: 'They helped every one his neighbor; and every one said to his brother: 'Be of good courage.' The people of Israel live – and together we will win.”
    Minister Gantz added:
    “Our standing here, shoulder to shoulder, is a clear message to our enemies, and more importantly, a message to all citizens of Israel – we are all together, we are all mobilizing. Ours is not a political partnership but a shared fate. All citizens of Israel share a common fate, and together we will shape our fate and reality. At this time, we are all soldiers of the State of Israel. This is the time to come together and win. This is not the time for difficult questions, it is the time for crushing responses on the battlefield. I would like to turn to all citizens of Israel and tell them that the enemy will be destroyed, security will be restored the killing fields in which our heroes fell will be rebuilt and the entire State of Israel will flourish anew and be strengthened.”
    International Response
    Last night, a first shipment of equipment for the IDF from the US Government arrived in Israel and is already being deployed.
    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel on Thursday morning to express the solidarity of the United States with Israel. Among other meetings, he has met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and will meet with the families of American citizens abducted by Hamas. In their meeting, Netanyahu said to Secretary Blinken, “Just as ISIS was crushed, so too will Hamas be crushed. And Hamas should be treated exactly the way ISIS was treated.”
    Meanwhile US President Joe Biden is said to be considering re-freezing the $6 billion dollars that was released in August for Iran.
    Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with 31 NATO defense ministers who were gathering in Brussels earlier today. Gallant spoke of the atrocities committed by Hamas against children, women, men and the elderly and told the assembled ministers, “We have been hit hard. Yet make no mistake – 2023 is not 1943. We are the same Jews, but we have different capabilities. The State of Israel is strong. We are united, and powerful.” Gallant also presented an unreleased and uncensored video of some of the horrific acts committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians and soldiers, as well as foreign nationals who were either kidnapped or killed.
    Last night, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog spoke with the United Kingdom’s King Charles III, who called to express his condolences and “deep shock at the criminal and barbaric actions of the terrorist organization Hamas in its attack on the citizens of Israel.”
    Federation Partners on the Ground
    The Jewish Agency for Israel
    Some 40 more grants were distributed by the Jewish Agency’s Fund for the Victims of Terror yesterday, and more are expected to be distributed very soon.
    The Agency has also convened a Roundtable with the National Emergency Forum to discuss bringing medical volunteers from overseas, including doctors and paramedical professionals.
    At the same time, the Agency is preparing an evacuation plan for communities in the north should that become necessary.
    The 1,480 olim who have been evacuated from Jewish Agency absorption centers in the South to safer locations elsewhere in Israel will remain on respite until at least Monday.
    The Agency is also working on finding alternate flights for Olim that were scheduled to arrive and have had their flights cancelled. All new Olim are being given an information kit to help them on arrival.
    Masa participants are participating in volunteer activities, including assembling food packages, helping with babysitting, conducting deliveries, and more.
    All participants in the Agency’s Haredi Mechina Program in Moshav Ora returned to their program yesterday, and some other Mechinot will resume by the end of the week.

    The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC):
    Some of JDC's response to the current situation in recent days included the following:
    A first group of 170 families at risk in the south of Israel were approved to receive vouchers for food, household items, toys and medicines. This assistance is aimed at helping recipients who were struggling financially before the crisis, make emergency purchases such as water, toys, and other supplies for shelters and safe rooms.
    JDC professionals visited centers throughout Israel, housing Holocaust survivors from the communities bordering the Gaza Strip, who were evacuated after the tragic attacks. JDC staff met with elderly Holocaust survivors to assess their needs and determine responses.
    Youth studying at a vocational school supported by JDC volunteered to use their skills to support survivors in the south of Israel. Students studying in the carpentry track created locks for safe spaces in apartments, to enhance their protection, and students studying in the culinary track prepared hot meals for families in the South.
    JDC, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor, converted a JDC-initiated employment center in the Haredi city of Bnei Brak into a volunteer hub. So far 500 Haredi volunteers have signed up and are staffing call centers, visiting elderly, and supporting vital community services. JDC aims to replicate this model in other JDC-initiated employment centers throughout Israel.
    The JDC cafeteria in Jerusalem has been repurposed to support the major relief efforts taking place in Israel. Professionals in our Israel office are volunteering their time to make food for forensic police officers working around the clock to identify the bodies of civilians and soldiers who fell victim to the recent terrible attack.

    The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) is providing daily in-depth and inside analysis, sponsored by Jewish Federations and the Jewish Agency. A rotating team of top analysts of Israeli military affairs, the US-Israel relationship, Israel’s political system and the country’s diverse society, will speak Sunday to Thursday, 11:00 - 11:30a.m. EDT by Zoom. Join here.
    For those looking for opportunities to volunteer and assist Israel, please see this guide, prepared by Jewish Federations.
    Jewish Federations issued a statement on the current fighting. 
    Our Israel Office, having activated emergency protocols, is working closely with our partners on the ground, and is close contact with the Government of Israel and the IDF. We will continue to update as the situation develops.

    October 11, 2023

    Key Points

    • More than 1,200 Israelis killed, including some 170 soldiers
    • Over 3,000 Israelis wounded – 480 still hospitalized; 6,000 rockets fired at Israel
    • An estimated 150 Israelis being held hostage in Gaza
    • National Emergency Government established with Netanyahu and Gantz
    • Concern over second front heats up with exchanges across Lebanon border
    • Biden pledges unwavering support against "pure unadulterated evil" Hamas wrought; Blinken to visit Israel
    • Federations hold 115 solidarity events across North America

    On Day 5 of Israel’s war with Hamas the casualty rate has yet again risen significantly. Additional hostile acts by Hezbollah are stoking fears of a two-front war. 

    Late in the afternoon today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Union Chair Benny Gantz announced the formation of a national emergency unity government. Five National Unity MKs will join the government as ministers without portfolio, and a new Security Cabinet will be comprised of Netanyahu, Gantz, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, with Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer as well as National Unity MK Gadi Eizenkot (a former IDF Chief of Staff) serving as observers. 

    Yesterday morning, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog met with President and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America Eric Fingerhut, along with the CEO of UJA Federation New York Eric Goldstein, and Jewish Federations Senior Vice President Rebecca Caspi, to discuss the emergency situation.  

    President Herzog said, “Israel is under attack and its people are grieving. But the Jewish state has always shown incredible resilience under fire and today is strong, determined, and united.” The president specifically thanked global Jewry, and singled out the North American Jewish community for “standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel in its hour of need” and thanked us “for all you are doing to speak up, support and defend Israel on the global stage: In the corridors of power, the press, social media and throughout the public arena. We in Israel feel greatly comforted by the fact that the entire Jewish People is with us at this fateful hour.” 

    In a massive display of unity with Israel, Jewish Federations have organized (or are planning) more than 115 solidarity gatherings in communities across North America. See more here. 

    The Home Front
    The IDF reaffirmed that it has regained control of all cities in the country’s south and successfully prevented multiple terrorist infiltrations of the border fence with Gaza in the last two days.  In addition, a Hamas diver trying to enter Israel via the sea was killed. In the last 24 hours, there have been seven live engagements between troops and Hamas terrorists inside Israel, and IDF forces have neutralized 18 gunmen. The military continues to warn that some terrorists may remain inside Israel from earlier incursions.  

    IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari clarified that, in the IDF’s opinion, Hamas, in its initial attack on Saturday, “intended to occupy the area, not raid and return to Gaza.” 

    As more bodies are discovered from Saturday’s attack, the official death toll has risen above 1,200, and funerals are being held around the clock (see here). The IDF Rabbinate and other officials are struggling with the sheer quantity of bodies, significantly slowing both the identification process and the go-ahead for funerals (see details here). To accommodate the large number of military casualties, a new section has been opened at the national military cemetery on Mt. Herzl. Last night hundreds of volunteers showed up on site, following an urgent call to begin the somber task of digging fresh graves (see photo here).  

    See here for a page, in Hebrew, with information about soldiers who have fallen in the fighting. As details emerge, it is becoming clearer that terrible events were perpetrated by Hamas in the first day of the war, including rapes, beheadings, and the murders of many babies. In addition, towns that were temporarily overrun by terrorists saw homes and stores looted, buildings burned, and more. Estimated damage in one day is more than $1 billion USD. 

    Updated figures indicate that at least 14 US nationals and two Canadian citizens were killed in the Hamas attacks, and that some 20 Americans and two Canadians are still missing. 

    Significant rocket fire continues across much of the country; earlier today, the city of Ashkelon reported direct hits to property, where two people were lightly injured. Five buildings in Sderot were also hit. Rockets have also been reportedly launched by Hamas drones.  Early this evening, sirens sounded across northern Israel as Israeli airspace was breached. 

    For a fourth straight day, millions of Israelis ran to shelters as sirens blared. Schools and most businesses remained shuttered across the country. A large area around the Gaza Strip has been declared a closed military zone, to which entry by civilians is prohibited. See map here. 

    In another sign of unity, members of the anti-judicial reforms protests movements have joined their IDF units, while others have organized and are collecting food, clothing, and other materials for soldiers as well as for the victims of the attacks. 

    Israeli Response
    At least 360,000 soldiers have been called up, thus boosting security in all areas of the country in preparation for a potential ground invasion of Gaza. See here for video footage of the IDF Chief of Staff Hertzi Halevi visiting troops who are readying  for battle. 

    The IDF has already carried out strikes against more than 2,650 targets across the Gaza Strip since fighting began. Some 1,300 of those targets are multi-story buildings containing Hamas assets, including war rooms where the terror group manages the fighting against Israel. Overnight, the military hit the home of relatives of Mohammad Deif, the Hamas military commander, in Khan Younis, killing the commander’s brother and other family members. See footage here of overnight air attacks and here for the Israeli Navy’s attacks. 

    According to Hamas sources, some 900 Palestinians – most of them Hamas militants – have been killed in Israeli strikes, in addition to the 1,500 terrorists killed during the initial invasion into Israel on Saturday. According to the UN, 260,000 Gazans have been internally displaced due to the fighting. 

    Brig. Gen. Omer Tishler, the Israel Air Force’s chief of staff, earlier today said, “We are attacking the Gaza Strip on an unprecedented scale, because what happened here is something that has never happened before. There is an enemy here firing rockets, raiding a civilian population. We are never going back to that…. We do not act like the other side; we do not attack the civilian population. Behind every attack (of ours) there is a (Hamas) target.”  

    Meanwhile, reports indicate that Hamas’ supply of fuel has now run out and the entire Strip is without regular electricity. 

    In the country’s north, additional attacks have stoked fears of a second-front opening, this time between Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah. Yesterday, some 15 rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon. Earlier today, the IDF carried out a drone strike against a Hezbollah post in southern Lebanon in response to an anti-tank guided missile attack on an Israeli military post on the border. The IDF also launched artillery strikes against the source of the rocket fire. Last night, rockets were launched from terror forces in Syria towards the Golan Heights. See here for details on the threat of a multi-front war. Haifa’s Rambam Hospital, in preparation for possible conflict in the north, has opened its three-level, fortified, underground hospital wards. Other hospitals are following suit. 

    Israel’s Minister of Interior announced today that nationwide municipal elections scheduled for October 31 will be delayed by three months due to the war. 

    International Response
    In a live address, US President Joe Biden pledged his country’s unwavering support for Israel, saying, “There are moments in this life, when pure unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world…This is what they mean by human tragedy, an atrocity at an unprecedented scale. It brings to mind the worse rampages of ISIS… Sadly, for the Jewish people it’s not new. This attack has brought to the surface painful memories, scars left by a millennium of antisemitism and genocide of the Jewish people…. In this moment, we must be crystal clear, we stand with Israel.”  

    Biden also announced that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken would visit Israel tomorrow in an act of solidarity. Yesterday evening, a plane carrying advanced armaments from the US landed at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel. This move will facilitate significant military operations and increase preparedness for other scenarios. It has also been confirmed that the US is considering sending a second aircraft carrier to the Eastern Mediterranean, in addition to the USS Gerald Ford and its accompanying fleet of warships and missile ships. See here for a piece on the importance of the US naval support for Israel. 

    Also yesterday, the leaders of the world’s leading democracies, US, Germany, Britain, France, and Italy issued a joint statement condemning the attacks on Israel by Hamas and expressed their “steadfast and united support” for Israel. “Over the coming days, we will remain united and coordinated, together as allies, and as common friends of Israel, to ensure Israel is able to defend itself, and to ultimately set the conditions for a peaceful and integrated Middle East region,” said the statement by US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. 

    Federation Partners on the Ground

    The Jewish Agency for Israel 
    The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for the Victims of Terror has received a $5 million donation from the Breakthrough Foundations established by Israeli philanthropists Julia and Yuri Milner, representing the largest-ever single gift to the Fund. The Fund provides $1,200 grants in the immediate aftermath of an event with victims eligible for long-term rehabilitation grants of up to $6,300 later on  

    To date, 70 emergency financial aid grants have been distributed and staff have  started to visit the evacuated communities in order to assess needs. In the coming days, each such community will be assigned a VOT liaison. 

    Nearly 1,500 olim have been evacuated from Jewish Agency absorption centers in the south to safer locations elsewhere in Israel. Approximately 30% of Aliyah candidates (outside of Israel) have cancelled or paused their Aliyah process. 

    Yesterday, 11 elderly Amigour residents were evacuated to the Dead Sea. Tomorrow, in accordance with a governmental request, another 50 will be relocated to Arad.  Also, 2,500 food baskets will be distributed to Amigour residents with the help of volunteers.  

    More than 5,700 Masa Israel Journey Fellows are currently in Israel, and a small number have decided to return home. Those in programs in the South have been relocated to safer locations elsewhere in Israel. Masa is actively connecting Fellows in need of professional support with numerous mental health experts proficient in various languages. Some 40 Fellows are in the process of making Aliyah. 

    Jewish Agency Shlichim are helping to organize events in their communities, while several who have lost family members or friends have asked to share their stories in their communities before returning home. 

    The Jewish Agency is collecting videos and other materials about its activities on the ground, which can be accessed here. 

    World ORT 
    Yesterday, an update briefing by World ORT on Zoom was hacked by anti-Israel activists, forcing the organizers to end it abruptly. The call was rescheduled for earlier today. 

    The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) is hosting daily webinars sponsored by Jewish Federations and the Jewish Agency. A rotating team of top analysts of Israeli military affairs, the US-Israel relationship, Israel’s political system and the country’s diverse society, will speak every Sunday to Thursday from 11:00 - 11:30 am ET by Zoom. Join here. 

    Jewish Federations issued a statement on the current fighting. 

    Our Israel Office, having activated emergency protocols, is working closely with our partners on the ground and is close contact with the Government of Israel and the IDF. We will continue to update as the situation develops. 

    October 9, 2023


    • More than 900 Israelis have been killed; Some 2600 are wounded, 600 of which are still hospitalized; 5,000 rockets fired at Israel; and an estimated 150 Israelis being held hostage in Gaza
    • The IDF does not currently regard the situation as a multi-front conflict despite skirmishes in the North
    • The IDF has stated that they have sufficient supplies. There are some temporary delays in distribution, but are asking that people not send in supplies
    • Some terrorists may still be at large despite Israeli retaking control of territory and border fence
    • Israeli media are reporting that all of the major political parties are close to an agreement for a broad emergency national coalition government.
    • This morning, President Herzog met with our own Eric Fingerhut and Rebecca Caspi and UJA-Federation of New York's Eric Goldstein, and thanked "the North American Jewish community for standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel in its hour of need."

    On Day 4 of Israel’s war with Hamas the casualty rate has again risen significantly. Despite several skirmishes in the North, the IDF does not regard the current situation as a multi-front conflict at this stage.

    The Home Front
    The IDF declared that it has regained control of all cities in the country’s south, and has also secured the entire border fence with Gaza, preventing additional terrorist infiltrations. At the same time, the military warned that some terrorists may remain inside Israel from earlier incursions. On Tuesday afternoon, members of an elite IDF unit killed four terrorists on Zikim Beach. The military says it spotted four armed men and “exchanged fire with the terrorists in the area and eliminated them.” The IDF confirmed that no terrorists have successfully managed to infiltrate into Israel from Gaza since yesterday.

    All the Israeli communities adjacent to the Gaza border have been evacuated except for individuals who opted to remain in their homes. Most of the population is now staying either in hotels around the Dead Sea or in the center of the country.
    Last night, the IDF located 30 missing people near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha in the south, three days after the initial attacks. The group of 16 Israelis and 14 Thais, who were all in good health, had been hiding, having run from Hamas gunmen.
    In an indication of the scale of the terrorist invasion that took place on Saturday, the bodies of at least 1500 Hamas militants have been found inside Israel.

    The Israeli Government last night also confirmed that it knows the names of all those who are being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza and that at least 50 families have been informed. Watch the disturbing testimony of Avital, an Israeli mother who was kidnapped with her neighbor Adi Kaplon-Vital and her two children. Hamas terrorists took Adi to Gaza and gave the children to Avital who was released and is interviewed here. Adi is still being held by Hamas.

    Intensive rocket fire continued throughout the day yesterday, but the frequency of attacks dropped overnight. On Tuesday afternoon, significant barrages have been fired at cities in the center of the country, including Tel Aviv and Herzliya.

    For a third straight day, millions of Israelis ran to shelters as sirens blared, and schools and many businesses remained shuttered across the country. The Home Front Command advised all Israeli citizens to keep at least 72 hours’ worth of dry food and water in their shelters.  Parents of school-aged children have been advised to remove social media apps from their kid’s cell-phones as Hamas is expected to release graphic videos of some of the hostages shortly, in order to avoid additional trauma.

    The death toll, mainly from the first day of fighting, continued to rise dramatically and has now surpassed 900 victims. Of these, some are Arab and Druze Israelis, at least 11 have US citizenship and 2 are Canadian. In addition, 2 Canadians are among the missing. Citizens from other countries have also been killed, including 12 from Thailand and others from the UK, Germany, France and numerous other nations. (See more about American and Canadian victims here).

    As is often mentioned, Israel is a small country where “everyone knows everyone.” As a result, it is rare to find an Israeli who does not know at least one person who has been killed. The country is also physically small, and the sounds of fighting and explosions can be heard by vast swathes of the population, on an almost constant basis

    Television stations have been broadcasting news 24 hours a day since early on Saturday morning with no commercial or other breaks. During the news and discussions by military and other experts, the names and photos of those killed scroll down the side of screen. Among the dead are the son of the former Superintendent of Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services, the sister of a prominent TV anchorwoman, the son of a former government minister in Naftali Bennett’s cabinet, the Fire Chief of Kiryat Gat, the Mayor of Sha’ar Hanegev, and people’s friends, neighbors and others. Watch here the extremely difficult footage of a young woman explaining how the terrorists live-streamed the murder of her grandmother on the victim’s own Facebook page.

    Above all, Israelis are haunted by the almost incomprehensible images of some 260 youth who were slaughtered at a rave party.

    Tragically, six close relatives (four young children and their parents) of Doron Almog, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, were murdered in their home by the terrorists. Almog sent the following message to Jewish communities:

    “We are in the midst of a war on the state of Israel. A war that was forced upon us by complete surprise, much like the Yom Kippur war. It is a very complex situation that we have never seen before. In all my years in Israel and in the IDF, I never believed that we would reach such a terrible scenario, in which hundreds of innocent civilians are on the front line, many of them murdered and kidnapped, including babies, children, women and the elderly. We are exposed to videos and pictures that show an unprecedented level of brutality of the enemy.

    “These are horrific scenes from dark times. Yesterday evening I was informed that six of my family members were murdered in Kfar Gaza: Chen Almog Goldstein, Nadav Goldstein, their daughters: Yam and Agam and their sons: Tal and Gal. The grandfather of the family, Chen's father, Giora Almog who for over 30 years raised generations of children in the kibbutz, just two weeks ago presided over the memorial service for the five members of our family who were murdered at the Maxim Restaurant in Haifa 20 years ago.

    “We are facing a long military campaign, the extent and severity of which we still do not know, so I am asking you to stand by our side and as much as you can. The State of Israel is the state of the entire Jewish people. Those in Israel and those in Jewish communities everywhere.

    "Our strength is in our unity" is now not just a slogan.

    “I see you and your wonderful dedication. The WhatsApps, the phone calls, the messages, the reporting for duty and the solidarity - it is incredibly moving. The sense of shared responsibility, love and togetherness inspire pride and hope.

    “Am Yisrael Chai.”

    Israeli Response
    On Monday morning, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant imposed a complete siege of Gaza, including cutting electricity to the region. And early Tuesday morning, the IDF called on any Gazan resident who can leave for Egypt to do so. The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt remains open.

    At least 360,000 soldiers have been called up in the largest recruitment of reserve troops in decades. In addition, yesterday the Israeli Air Force airlifted hundreds of troops who were out of the country, in order for them to rejoin their units. The military says C-130 and C-130J heavy transport planes flew to various countries in Europe to bring the off-duty soldiers back to Israel.

    Overnight, the IDF struck more than 200 Hamas targets in Gaza, including a weapons storage site in a mosque, an apartment used by Hamas’ anti-tank guided missile forces, and a high-rise tower used by the terror group. See footage of IDF attacks last night here. Earlier in the evening, the IDF said that it has hit 1,707 targets in Gaza since Saturday, including 475 rocket systems, 73 command centers, 23 strategic infrastructure sites and 22 underground targets.

    See here for footage of IDF strikes on Hamas naval terrorist targets, as well as photos of IDF Naval Forces in front of the Gaza Strip coast over the last few days. The IDF also believes says that at least 800 terrorists have been killed in the air strikes on Gaza.

    In the country’s north, a small armed group of terrorists crossed the border from Lebanon where a gun battle took place with Israeli forces. An IDF helicopter was deployed during the fight where one Israeli commander was killed, and others injured. Hezbollah denied responsibility for the attack. Some Israeli media is reporting that Israel sent a message to Hezbollah (through France) warning that if they attack Israel, the US will retaliate against them and against Syria’s Assad regime. According to that report, President Biden is preparing the ground for Congressional approval of possible action against Hezbollah. 

    Last night, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the nation and later added remarks in English, which can be viewed here. A short while later, President Isaac Herzog addressed the international community. His remarks can be viewed here. This morning, President Herzog met with President and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America Eric Fingerhut, along with the CEO of UJA Federation New York Eric Goldstein, and Jewish Federations Senior Vice President Rebecca Caspi, to discuss the emergency situation in Israel. In the meeting, President Herzog said, “Israel is under attack and its people are grieving. But the Jewish state has always shown incredible resilience under fire and today is strong, determined and united.” The President specifically mentioned his thanks to global Jewry, “and all the North American Jewish community for standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel in its hour of need.” President Herzog said, “Thank you for all you are doing to speak up, support and defend Israel on the global stage: In the corridors of power, the press, social media and throughout the public arena. We in Israel feel greatly comforted by the fact that the entire Jewish People is with us at this fateful hour.

    Israeli media are reporting that all of the major political parties are close to an agreement for a broad emergency national coalition government.

    Federation Partners on the Ground

    The Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC):

    Comments by Taly Levanon, ITC’s CEO:

    “We are facing something we never faced before. I’m an old-timer and yet I’ve never seen anything like this,” While some have compared the current war to the surprise Yom Kippur attack that devastated Israel exactly 50 years ago, Levanon says this is worse. “On Yom Kippur, the attack was aimed at the army. This is the first-time civil society has been targeted with the purpose of harming civilians.

    “The impact, is huge because people are witnessing terrible things they have never witnessed before, not only in real time in their own communities, but also in extremely disturbing footage on social media showing the mistreatment of captives. Adding to everyone’s anxiety is the lack of reliable information about how many Israelis have been kidnapped, and what's happened to them.

    “We are all preparing for unprecedented situations – hundreds of funerals, thousands of wounded. Breakdowns in the communication infrastructure are leaving Israelis scrambling to find information about their loved ones, while many wives and children are coping alone due to the national call-up of reserve soldiers.

    “We are witnessing tremendous distress among first responders and emergency volunteer teams, especially where infiltrations occurred, and we are receiving requests for help in delivering tragic news [because] many paramedics and police officers have been injured or killed. Although we work with people in the South all the time, you never get used to it. There’s a lot of work ahead of us.”

    The people of Israel are currently experiencing a terrible reality, filled with unbearable tragedy and uncertainty. We know that the hearts of our friends in North America are filled with hurt and worry and we know you are eager to step up and assist, because that is what we do at Federation. Jewish Federations’ Israel office is currently looking into volunteer opportunities for those who wish to come help out. We hope to have more information to share with you once initial situation and needs assessments have been made. 

    Meanwhile, Jewish communities around the world are expressing solidarity and support for Israel. See this article on “The many ways American Jews can help Israel right now.”

    Nefesh B’Nefesh, in collaboration with Israel’s Ministry of Health and the Israeli Medical Association, is creating a database of international physicians willing to volunteer in Israel during this challenging time. See here for details.

    The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) is providing daily in-depth and inside analysis, sponsored by Jewish Federations and the Jewish Agency. A rotating team of top analysts of Israeli military affairs, the US-Israel relationship, Israel’s political system and the country’s diverse society, will speak Sunday to Thursday, 11:00 - 11:30a.m. EDT by Zoom. Join here.

    Readers can access a Jewish Federations toolkit of resources here, and a Google Drive with short clips and videos as well as raw materials from the war, here.

    Jewish Federations issued a statement on the current fighting and held a webinar with reports from the IDF Spokesperson, Jewish Federations’ partners in Israel and others. View a recording here.

    Our Israel Office, having activated emergency protocols, is working closely with our partners on the ground, and is close contact with the Government of Israel and the IDF. We will continue to update as the situation develops.

    October 8, 2023

    Key Points:

    • Cabinet has officially delared war. More than 600 Israelis have been killed. Some 2,000 Israelis wounded. At least 5,000 rockets fired at Israel. An estimated 100 Israelis are being held hostage in Gaza.
    • The Jewish Agency for Israel's Fund for Victims of Terror (FVOT) is the first responder in the recovery process of families and individuals who have been impacted by acts of terror and violence, providing immediate grants to assist victims, as needed, within 48 hours of an attack. The Agency estimates that it will need to provide at least 350 short term grants and 750 long term grants.
    • JDC is providing support to those in the line of fire, including elderly, people with disabilities, children and families at risk, and other vulnerable populations adversely impacted during this war and in past conflicts.
    • Jewish Federations stand in total and complete solidarity with Israel. We are working closely with our partners on the ground and have opened an emergency fund to support these efforts.

    In what many have begun to call Israel’s 9/11 (see the Jerusalem Post’s cover story today) the Jewish state has entered the second day of its war against Hamas. Clearly, the numbers above point to one of the blackest days in the country’s history.

    Jewish Federations issued a statement on the current fighting. Several Federations have already scheduled solidarity gatherings. We encourage Federations to organize such gatherings to help build support for Israel in your communities. Here is an outline on how to create an event. For additional help, please contact Alexandra Coffey.

    Our Israel Office has activated our emergency protocols, is working closely with our partners on the ground, and is in close contact with the Government of Israel and the IDF. We will continue to update as the situation develops. Funds raised and designated to the Jewish Federations of North America Israel 2023 Emergency Fund will be allocated to the most pressing needs, or distributed as designated by a Federation or donor.

    Jewish Federations will hold a webinar with the latest developments today, Sunday, at 12 Noon ETRegister here.

    Surprise Attack
    Yesterday, on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah in Israel, at around 6:00am, hundreds of Hamas Palestinian terrorists infiltrated Israel from Gaza, by sea, air and land, tearing down border fences and entering Israeli towns in the region in vehicles and on foot. (See our update from yesterday here).

    Dozens of terrorists infiltrated numerous Israeli cities, kibbutzim and towns, and in many cases, went door to door, executing men, women, children and the elderly. Hamas troops drove into as many as 22 locations in southern Israel, including towns and other communities as far as 15 miles from the Gaza border. Many of the victims were young people attending a large outdoor party.

    Some 100 civilians are believed to have been captured and taken into the Gaza Strip and are currently being held hostage by Hamas forces. Video footage released by Hamas shows men, women and children being loaded and unloaded from cars and motorcycles, hands bound and looking very scared. The Red Cross and other international bodies have been denied access to the Israeli hostages.

    Israeli television and social media have been awash with shocking footage of civilians being taken hostage, including women holding babies in their arms. Similarly, dozens of recordings of calls made by frightened civilians saying they are locked in their rooms and that there are terrorists inside their homes.

    Later, Israeli troops entered the areas under attack and numerous fierce battles took place with the armed terrorists. In some cases, stand-offs and gunfights continued until late into the night, including in numerous situations where hostages were being held. Intense battles took place at a police station in Sderot controlled by large number of terrorists that saw severe levels of gunfire; at a major hostage situation in the town of Ofakim; and to free a number of Israelis who were held hostage for hours by Hamas gunmen inside the dining hall at Kibbutz Be’eri. As of the time of writing, the IDF says that these hostages were rescued safely and that it is close to regaining control over all Israeli territory, although searches for terrorists continue.

    While most victims’ names have not yet been released, fatalities include numerous Arab Israeli citizens as well as IDF troops, firefighters and police officers. One soldier who fell was the commanding officer of the Nahal Infantry Brigade, Col. Jonathan Steinberg. Another victim was Mayor of Sha’ar Hanegev (the San Diego Federation’s partnership region) Ofir Libstein, who fell in a gun battle defending his town. See more on the victims here.

    Rockets Fired
    With 5000 rockets fired at civilian targets, millions of Israelis ran multiple times to shelters, as explosions were heard across the country, on an ongoing basis, throughout the day. Rocket fire continues today.

    The majority of rockets either fell in open areas or were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, but some reached their intended targets, hitting homes, businesses and a hospital. Numerous Israelis were killed and injured in the attacks. See here for footage of a rocket that landed in a populated Tel Aviv street.

    Schools are closed throughout the country today, and gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned.

    One rocket was fired at Israel by Hezbollah forces from Lebanon. Israel hopes to avoid escalation into a two-front war but this is clearly a concern. Also today, an Egyptian policeman opened fire on a busload of Israeli tourists in Alexandria, killing two Israelis and one local guide, and injuring others.

    Israeli Response
    Last night Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the nation on live television, saying, that Israel is experiencing “events never seen before.” He vowed to use all of the IDF’s power to hit Hamas, and warned Gaza civilians to “get out now.” See his full remarks here.

    Opposition Leader Yair Lapid has indicated his willingness to join an emergency government, together with National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz. Political discussions are underway. See this opinion piece, “A wounded, weakened Israel is a fiercer one.”

    The Israel Defense Forces has initiated a massive call-up of reserve forces (see footage here). The army said four divisions of reservists were being deployed to the Gaza border, joining 35 battalions that were already there. Electricity to the Gaza Strip has been cut.

    The IDF hit over 500 targets in numerous air strikes, dropping 16 tons of munitions on terror sites, killing at least 230 people on the ground. Targets hit include 17 military compounds, four headquarters, and four high-rise towers the IDF said were used by Hamas. See here for footage of a strike on multiple terror cells in the area of the security fence in the Gaza Strip over the past day. According to many reports, the IDF is preparing for ground forces to enter the Strip.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that all Israeli citizens around the world who wish to return to Israel should know that Ben Gurion Airport is open for incoming and outgoing flights. Some foreign airlines have canceled flights to Israel.

    For those in Israel, the IDF’s Home Front Command has an app that can be downloaded here that gives information, advice and instructions to people on the ground. The site does not work outside of Israel.

    International Reactions

    • US President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Netanyahu to offer Israel full support. Later, Biden appeared together with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and spoke about Israel saying, “We will not ever fail to have their back, we’ll make sure that they’ll have the help their citizens need and they can continue to defend themselves.” See full text here.
    • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, posted on X that, “Canada strongly condemns the current terrorist attacks against Israel. These acts of violence are completely unacceptable. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to defend itself. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this. Civilian life must be protected.”
    • French President Emmanuel Macron also strongly condemned the attacks, saying, “I express my full solidarity with the victims, and their families and those close to them.”
    • Numerous buildings around the world have been lit up with Israeli flags in solidarity with the Jewish state, including the Empire State Building in New York, the Italian Parliament and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. See more here.

    Unfortunately, other reactions, as expected, have praised the terrorist attacks:

    • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves against the “terror of settlers and occupation troops.”
    • An adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei congratulated Hamas terrorists saying, “We will stand by the Palestinian fighters until the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem."

    Federation Partners on the Ground

    The American Jewish Joint Dhistribution Committee (JDC):

    JDC immediately activated their emergency response team and protocols across Israel. In the south of the country, they have widespread, existing operations and programs providing support to those in the line of fire, including elderly, people with disabilities, children and families at risk, and other vulnerable populations adversely impacted during this war and in past conflicts. They will conduct ongoing assessments of emerging needs and deploy interventions to address them. About fifty JDC staff live in the Southern region, including ten on the border.

    The Jewish Agency for Israel:
    The Agency’s Fund for Victims of Terror (FVOT) is the first responder in the recovery process of families and individuals who have been impacted by acts of terror and violence, providing immediate grants to assist victims, as needed, within 48 hours of an attack. The Agency estimates that it will need to provide at least 350 short term grants and 750 long term grants.

    There are currently 3,856 new olim living in twelve Jewish Agency absorption centers in the region under rocket threat. The overwhelming majority are new olim from Ethiopia, Ukraine and Russia. Yesterday, a rocket landed close enough to the Barnea Absorption center that damage was done to the building and one of the apartments had to be evacuated (that same absorption center had a rocket fall in its parking lot in May of 2021). The Jewish Agency plans to take 2,000 olim from those absorption centers for a five-day respite period to allow residents to sleep through the night without fear of running all night and day to shelters. For those olim who do not want to leave their homes, the Jewish Agency will provide respite activities within the absorption centers for children and teenagers.

    There are currently 2,700 residents of Amigour elderly care facilities in Israel's South, in sheltered housing units which makes it possible for them to remain in their homes during rocket attacks from Gaza. However, because of the age of the residents, they must remain in their homes to be close to shelters and cannot leave to procure groceries and other household items. Amigour is providing all of the basic necessities directly to its residents.

    The Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC):
    Residents of Southern Israel including ITC Resilience center teams have been following the directives of the Home Front Command and remain in their homes. As a result, trauma services are being provided remotely including through hot lines, with therapists taking calls.

    ITC says they are preparing for hundreds of families dealing with funerals and thousands of wounded.

    Communication problems, with lines down, is exacerbating the problem with people scrambling to find information about their loved ones. With a national call up of reserves, many wives and children have been left alone to cope with the situation. A center has been opened in Ramle to deal with victim’s identifications, and police are calling on families with missing family members to go to their local police stations with photos and DNA samples of their missing relatives.

    ITC says they are witnessing tremendous distress among First Responders, and emergency volunteer teams especially in areas where infiltrations occurred. In addition, numerous paramedics have been killed or injured.

    World ORT:
    Most students at the Kfar Silver Youth Village were home for the holiday and were not in the region. ORT was able to evacuate the village’s remaining Na’ale students and shinshinim and staff to the country’s north. A small number of staff remain in the village to care for the animals.

    October 7, 2023

    Dear Colleagues,

    As you no doubt have seen in the news, Israel is at war with terrorist groups in Gaza, who have mounted an unprecedented offensive that has already killed at least 40 Israelis and injured hundreds. Jewish Federations of North America are assessing the situation, in close touch with our partners at the Jewish Agency, JDC, and local Federation partners. Eric Fingerhut is in Israel, coordinating with Rebecca Caspi and our Israel office on the response.

    In the coming hours, we will send a more comprehensive update to the system, including an announcement for a webinar update to be held tomorrow. We are also developing a toolkit with talking points and social media posts, and working to open a system-wide mailbox to address the significant needs that are developing.

    In the meantime, we have released the following statement showing our full solidarity and support of Israel.

    Once again, on a holy day of the Jewish calendar, the people of Israel have come under attack. Once again, the brave military forces of the State of Israel are responding and will defend our beloved Jewish state. And once again the Jewish communities of North America stand in total and complete solidarity with our Israeli brethren. We pray for their safety and will do everything we can to ensure the complete and total success of their efforts. And once again the Jewish Federations across North America will act immediately and comprehensively to support our brothers and sisters as they defend Israel.

    The prayer for the State of Israel we recite in synagogue every week - including this morning - says ונתת שלום בארץ ושמחת עולם ליושביה - “Grant peace in the land and happiness to all its residents.” On this day, which is the holiday of Simchat Torah in Israel - we literally sing and dance with simcha - with happiness. Today is not a day of simcha in Israel, but it is a day of solidarity, determination and utmost seriousness. 

    Israel will prevail and the Jewish people will stand together as we always so. Am yisrael chai.

    Messages From JFed OC Leadership

    November 17, 2023

    October 27, 2023

    October 17, 2023

    October 13, 2023

    October 7, 2023

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    of Orange County's, Israel Emergency Campaign

    Overseas Emergency Partners

    The Jewish Agency for Israel

    The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for Victims of Terror is providing immediate, critical financial aid to victims and their families. In addition, the Jewish Agency seeks to provide respite for people living in the conflict zone and activities for their children (including 3856 olim living in absorption centers, as well as enhanced security. Additional staffing will support 5000 elderly residents of Amigour in the south, ensuring they have food and other items within their sheltered apartments.


    The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, JDC, is one of Federation’s historic partners, with deep roots and an unshakable connection to the State of Israel. JDC is caring for those who have no-one else to turn to – vulnerable seniors, people with disabilities, children and young adults at risk, families in financial distress, and the unemployed. Jewish Federation emergency support will enable JDC to respond to the unique needs of these special populations.

    World ORT

    ORT is a global education network driven by Jewish values. They are providing urgent educational and psychological support for students, teachers and their families across Israel.

    Education & Resources

    Help for Families

    Talking to Kids About Scary Situations

    Talking to kids about Antisemitism

    Talking to Children About Israel

    General information about Israel

    Understanding the map of Israel

    For Older Children and Adults

    Israel at War Unpacked for Educators

    Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues that Matter

    Talking to Teens About Operation Swords