READ: Gulf Coast P2G steering committee member, Janet Hammer, represented Florida’s Gulf Coast on a solidarity mission with the Jewish Agency for Israel/Jewish Federations of North America, and Partnership2Gether (P2G). 
The below entries detail her experiences while traveling. Click here to read more.

  •  

    171 Days 
    Sunday….. Sam and I joined up with the Clearwater Florida  Walk for Their Lives group.  Every Sunday we meet locally in a public gathering calling for the release of all hosta...
  • Free our girls.  Free our women. Free our boys. Free our men. Free our babies! Free them from the filthy bonds that tie them in the darkest tunnels of Gaza. 

     
     
    Free us and the rest of th...

Israel Updates

A catalog of previously released updates can be found below.


 

 

World News

 

ISRAEL AND OVERSEAS

 

The JFNA Israel office in Jerusalem represents the Federation movement in Israel, serves as the main Federation connection to the Israeli government and liaises with Federation-funded partner agencies working in Israel and around the world. The office provides Federations with the latest information and policy analysis of relevant issues and critical information that guides our overseas work and investments. It also supports missions that help inspire and inform Federation leaders about the movement’s work abroad. The offices also connects Israeli leaders and government officials with the North American community, deepening their awareness and knowledge of its breadth and depth. View Hebrew directory of North American Jewish organizations.

 

 

IN ISRAEL

 

The Federation portfolio in Israel is widespread and diverse. It includes working with our partners to ensure that every Jew who wants to live in Israel can, funding programs that help provide equal access to economic and educational opportunities, and supporting initiatives that encourage religious diversity and social equality.

 

 

GLOBAL JEWRY

 

JFNA’s Jerusalem office is also Federations’ hub for supporting Jews around the world. Our network provides critical humanitarian and economic assistance in times of crisis, from the 2014 conflict with Gaza that threatened millions of Israelis to the ongoing strife in Ukraine that’s affected tens of thousands of Jews. Federation also plays an important ongoing role in providing an array of life-sustaining services to needy elderly and vulnerable jews while supporting the revitalization of Jewish life, especially in communities in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union that were decimated by the Holocaust and driven underground by Communism. Our partners fund camps, community centers and educational and leadership development programs that support a renaissance of global Jewish life.

 

 

CONTACT US

 

For more information on JFNA’s work in Israel and overseas, please contact our Israel office at israeloverseas@jewishfederations.org or call 011-972-2-620-2020.

    
   

Previously released updates, continued...

Update: March 14, 2024

  • On Wednesday, March 13th, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support, 352 to 65. The Jewish Federations of North America strongly support the complete passage of this legislation to stop the spread of overtly antisemitic content on social media platforms, particularly TikTok.
  • Join the Jewish Agency for Israel for a webinar: Israel and the War in International Media, which will take place March 21, 2024 at 11am ET, featuring recently retired IDF Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and owner of Conricus Communications, and Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh, The Jewish Agency’s Senior Emissary to Washington DC and the first Druze woman elected to Israel’s Knesset. Jonathan represented the IDF in hundreds of interviews during the first three months of the war and will speak about his experiences as well as the ongoing complexities of the conflict and Gadeer will talk about her work since October 7. Register here.

ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (IDF) ACTIVITIES

 

  • Israel says that it is now planning to “flood Gaza with humanitarian supplies.” Among the methods being planned is the floating pier off Gaza's coast that U.S. President Joe Biden announced on 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.
  • For the first time, the IDF prepared for the arrival this week of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip by sea. A ship carrying humanitarian aid from the WCK (World Central Kitchen) organization and funded by the United Arab Emirates set sail on Tuesday from the port of Larnaca in Cyprus toward Gaza. 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 addition, six humanitarian aid trucks containing aid from the World Food Organization entered the northern Gaza Strip via the 96th Gate along the security fence on Tuesday. This operation was also carried out in cooperation with the Israeli government and the IDF.
  • Also, over 1,000 aid packages have been airdropped into the Gaza Strip in over 12 missions by foreign countries during the last week, all in coordination with Israel.
  • Earlier this week, Israel opened up 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. 
  • Meanwhile, Hamas has killed the leader of the powerful Doghmush clan in Gaza City, for “stealing humanitarian aid” and being in contact with Israel, according to unconfirmed Arab media reports. The reports said that the clan leader, who was not named, was “executed” in the family compound along with two others. Earlier this week, a Hamas-linked website warned Palestinian individuals or groups against cooperating with Israel to provide security for aid convoys amid the spiraling humanitarian crisis as war rages in Gaza.
  • As ceasefire talks appear to still be stuck, focus remains on a possible IDF incursion into Rafah, the last area of Gaza containing significant Hamas forces. Some media are citing US Administration sources as saying that the US Government has quietly informed Israel that the US might support a limited military operation in Rafah that would include pinpoint anti-terror operations in the city, without a large incursion. According to Israeli sources, the IDF is working on a plan to ensure the safety of the 1.3 million displaced Gazans in the city. Read this opinion piece: “Israel must go ahead with an operation in Rafah.” The IDF also said that it plans to direct a significant portion of the 1.4 million displaced Gazans in Rafah toward “humanitarian islands” in the center of the territory, ahead of any ground operation in the city.

 

ROCKETS

 

  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant Israeli retaliations. Yesterday, the IDF eliminated a high-ranking Hamas (Lebanese branch) terrorist. The operative, who had planned and coordinated attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, was killed in the Lebanese city of Tyre, on the Mediterranean coast south of Beirut. 
  • 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. Read this article, “Missiles and UAVs in the Battle for Freedom of Navigation in the Red Sea.”

 

HOSTAGES

 

  • There is mounting pressure on Hamas to present a counter-proposal to a hostage deal proposed by Egypt and Qatar that has been accepted by Israel. Pressure is being put on the organization by the mediators, with reports suggesting that Qatar has even threatened to expel Hamas’s political leadership and withhold funding from the organization.
  • Released American hostage Judith Raanan, who was taken together with her teenaged Natalie Raanan by Hamas on October 7, says nurses at a hospital where they were brought after being abducted cheered at the sight of the Israeli “prey.” Watch her US television interview here.

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

 

  • South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has vowed that citizens who fight in the IDF will be arrested upon returning to the country. “I have already issued a statement alerting those who are South African and who are fighting alongside or in the Israeli Defense Forces. We are ready. When you come home, we’re going to arrest you,” Pandor said on Sunday, at a conference on solidarity with Palestinians in Pretoria. Some 25,000 South African Jews live in Israel.
  • Delta Air Lines says it will resume flights to Israel starting June 7, becoming the second major US carrier to do so since October 7. Delta says it will begin daily flights between New York-JFK and Tel Aviv following “an extensive security risk assessment by the airline.” United Airlines resumed flights to Israel earlier this month from Newark but does not plan to restart flights from other US cities until at least this fall. El Al has continued to fly to and from Israel throughout the war.
  • Member of Knesset Gidon Sa’ar, a former Likud minister, has pulled his New Hope faction out of War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party. The two factions united prior to the last elections but said they will go their own way in any upcoming national vote. Sa’ar sees hope for the future of a hawkish, but liberal, center-right party, that could eventually merge with a new political block that could include former prime minister Naftali Bennett and others. See more here.

STORIES OF HEARTBREAK, HEROISM AND HOPE

 

  • Read the story of 19-year-old American-Israel Itay Chen, described as “a beloved individual" whose warmth drew people close to him. He loved Israel and enjoyed hiking and guiding youth on trips. On October 7 Itay was taken captive by Hamas terrorists when they infiltrated his army base. His parents Ruby and Hagit spent the past five months traveling the world urging leaders to do everything in their power to bring back the hostages. On Tuesday, the IDF confirmed that Itay was killed on October 7, and that his body is still being held in Gaza. 
  • Amira Aharonoviz (Jewish Agency CEO), The women who give us hope.”
  • Taking into account the number of victims per capita, the October 7 terrorist attack ranks as the deadliest worldwide in recent decades. The massacres and ensuing violence caused tremendous upheaval within Israeli society, leaving hundreds of thousands of citizens displaced from their homes in both southern and northern Israel and resulting in widespread trauma experienced by children and adults all around the country:
  • According to the Israeli National Council for the Child, Israel has recognized 19,407 children as victims of terrorism since October 7, including 7,252 children aged five years and younger. Hamas terrorists murdered 38 children and left 20 children orphaned, and another 96 children with only one parent. 
  • Terrorists abducted 240 people, including 42 children. Two children, four-year-old Ariel and one-year-old Kfir Bibas, remain in captivity. 
  • Psychology experts estimate that there may be up to 600,000 new cases of PTSD among Israelis resulting from the war. This situation could be significantly worse if war breaks out in the north. 
  • The psychological impact of the attacks in Israel reverberates deeply throughout the country, affecting the direct victims, as well as their first and second-degree family members and friends. This trauma further extends its reach to encompass over 300,000 individuals serving in reserves and the regular army, along with their families. The repercussions of the attacks ripple through various circles, affecting released hostages, families of those still held captive, loved ones of the deceased and injured, as well as professionals such as first responders and cyber experts exposed to graphic footage. Even those not directly impacted in southern and northern Israel find themselves psychologically affected, including relatives and friends of those directly involved, and trauma survivors who undergo re-traumatization. 
  • Israeli researcher of trauma Danny Horesh explained that what is happening in Israel is called “compounded trauma,” whereby trauma comes from multiple sources and carriers. “We are a small, densely populated country, so almost everyone knows at least one person who has been harmed by the war in some way. That combination makes it very difficult to cope with reality. There has been nothing like it in the world, not even in our history as a country with such population density.” 
  • As of today, 126,000 Israelis remain displaced from their homes along the southern and northern borders due to danger of incoming rocket fire from Hamas and Hezbollah. This includes around 48,000 school-aged children who must deal with the uncertainty and fear of being removed from their homes and schools. The psychological damage on evacuees from the south is compounded by their incredible loss - loved ones, their homes, their jobs, their possessions, their sense of security and in many cases, hope. 
  • Dr. Stav Shapira of Ben-Gurion University's School of Public Health explained the added strains of displacement. "If the house is standing, that provides some foundation, a sense of stability and the knowledge that in future there's a place to return to. But for someone who has lost his home and possessions, the danger of psychological damage is far greater. They're totally uprooted." 
  • In addition to homelessness, survivor’s guilt among members of the southern kibbutzim is widespread. In some cases, entire families were slain except for one lone survivor. Many still face anxiety and feelings of helplessness.   
  • The prevalent psychological trauma in response to the October 7 massacres and the ensuing war underscores the need for rapid and broad mental health treatments and interventions to heal the country’s wounds. Compounding the needs is the fact that the Israeli mental health system was understaffed and underfunded before this crisis.

 

FURTHER READING

 

JEWISH FEDERATIONS RESOURCES

For latest details on Israel Emergency Campaign Allocations, click here.

 

Jewish Federations' Backgrounders:

At-Risk Youth  

LGBQT Community

Young Children

Volunteers

Women

Pastoral Guidance

Bedouin Communities

Food Security

People with Disabilities

 

Registration for Birthright Israel’s summer round is now open. See this link for important FAQ’s 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 both affected populations and local mental health professionals in Israel. 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. 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.

 

Volunteering: Read this updated Jewish Federations’ update on the latest volunteering opportunities in Israel right now.

 

Read the latest communication from the Community Mobilization Center here.

Update: March 11, 2024

On Tuesday, March 5, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act (H.R. 7521) was introduced to the US Congress with broad bipartisan support. Jewish Federations of North America are supporting this bill to help address the proliferation of antisemitic content on social media, specifically on TikTok. The historic rise in antisemitism has been documented both by the federal government, which showed FBI Hate Crime data reaching “historic levels” last year, and the ADL, which tracks a 336% rise since the Hamas terror attacks on Israel of October 7. See more here

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.”

ROCKETS

 

• 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.

 

HOSTAGES

 

• 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.

• President Biden also said over the weekend that Prime Minister Netanyahu is “hurting Israel more than he’s helping. In response, Netanyahu said that Biden was “wrong.” See details here.

• 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.

FURTHER READING

 

 

STORIES OF HEARTBREAK, HEROISM AND HOPE

 

  • Listen to this interview with released hostage Aviva Siegel recounting her agonizing ordeal spending 51 days in Hamas captivity. Her husband Keith still remains in the hands of terrorists. 
  • Read the story of 28-year-old Arbel Yehud, known by her family as “the favorite aunt” with a magnetic smile who always plays with, and takes care of, her nieces and nephews. An astronomy and space exploration guide, Arbel was in her home on Kibbutz Nir Oz when terrorists seized her and her boyfriend Ariel and took them by force into Gaza. Even though Hamas promised to release all women in an earlier hostage deal, Arbel has spent her 154th day in captivity. Arbel and Ariel recently returned from a trip to South Africa and have many bright plans for the future. 
  • Israel’s President Isaac Herzog: Israeli heroines are everywhere

UPCOMING WEBINARS

 

The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI): 

Mondays and Thursdays from 11-11:30 am ET

The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI): Regular 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.

JEWISH FEDERATIONS RESOURCES

For latest details on Israel Emergency Campaign Allocations, click here.

 

Jewish Federations' Backgrounders:

At-Risk Youth  

LGBQT Community

Young Children

Volunteers

Women

Pastoral Guidance

Bedouin Communities

Food Security

People with Disabilities

 

Registration for Birthright Israel’s summer round is now open. See this link for important FAQ’s 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 both affected populations and local mental health professionals in Israel. 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. 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.

 

Volunteering: Read this updated Jewish Federations’ update on the latest volunteering opportunities in Israel right now.

 

Read the latest communication from the Community Mobilization Center here.

Update: March 7, 2024

Past updates can be found here.

• Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now surpassed $783 million and allocated close to $385 million. For details, click here.

• For the first time since the start of the war on October 7, Israel has completed raising a dollar bond in international markets totaling an overall $8 billion. In recent months, the state has focused on raising debt to finance the war through private offerings and Israel Bonds.

• In the latest issuance, demands reached approximately $38 billion, the highest in Israel's history, despite perceived pessimism over the economy.

• Three new bonds were issued for terms of 5 years, 10 years, and 30 years. Approximately 400 investors from around 36 countries participated in the new issuance.

• Israel’s Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich said, “The high demand is a sign of the strength of the Israeli economy and represents a vote of confidence from investors in the market and in our economic policy.”

• Meanwhile, Israel’s largest bank, Hapoalim, announced that, despite the war, its 2023 profits were up 13%.

ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (IDF) ACTIVITIES

 

• The media is reporting that the US has so far sent over 100 shipments of weapons to Israel since fighting began. The deliveries have included ammunition for Israel’s artillery and armored corps, “bunker busters” (earth-penetrating ordnance), and light weapons.

• However, some reports also suggest that the Biden Administration is considering a ban on any of its equipment's being used in an IDF attack on Rafah. Rafah remains the last bastion of significant Hamas power, but is also the city where hundreds of thousands of Gazans who have fled the fighting in other parts of the Gaza Strip are currently located.

• According to the IDF, 25 airdrop missions have been deployed over Gaza to parachute aid into the Strip since fighting began on October 7. Some 750 containers of relief have been dropped into the enclave by the US, UAE, Egypt, Jordan and France. Most of the drops have been made in northern Gaza, where it has been hardest to deliver aid. On Tuesday, Jordan said 43 planes had flown aid missions over the Strip.

• The IDF has destroyed and sealed the largest Hamas attack tunnel found in Gaza. The passage is located some 165 feet underground in some areas and appeared to have been wide enough for vehicles to pass through. It did not enter Israeli territory, but officials described it as designed for use in attacks, rather than as a defensive position or for use in transporting officials. The IDF said the tunnel project was led by Muhammad Sinwar, the commander of Hamas’s southern brigade who is the brother of Hamas’s Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar.

ROCKETS

 

• In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant Israeli retaliations. Hezbollah-backed media are reporting that Israel has set a March 15 deadline for a diplomatic deal that would see the group’s forces redeploy from the border area. Without this troop withdrawal, media reports suggest, Israel would escalate the current skirmishes into a full-blown war with the terrorist group. Yesterday, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told US special envoy to the region Amos Hochstein that Hezbollah’s continued attacks on Israel are bringing the country closer to a decision regarding military action in Lebanon.

• 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, a Houthi missile attack killed three sailors on a Red Sea merchant ship, marking the first fatalities reported since the group began strikes against international shipping. The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, which set the Greek-owned, Barbados-flagged ship True Confidence ablaze in the Red Sea.

 

HOSTAGES

 

• Despite hope for a temporary truce to pause the fighting in Gaza alongside a hostage release before the start of Ramadan next week, no further concrete progress in negotiations has been made. Egypt, Qatar and the US have been pushing hard for an agreement before the Muslim fasting month begins on Sunday, and has 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.

• Reports suggest that while Israel has accepted the proposed framework, Hamas has delayed providing information, such as a list of hostages it is holding, that would allow a deal to progress.

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

 

• Israel’s Minister Benny Gantz, a member of the War Cabinet, traveled to the US and to Britain, in defiance of requests by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for him not to travel. Yesterday, Gantz met with UK Foreign Minister David Cameron and others. During one of the meetings, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “dropped in” and joined the discussions. Gantz reportedly took the opportunity to ask the UK government to increase its pressure on Hamas to release all Israeli hostages. 

• Despite months of evidence presented by Israel on both the direct affiliation of UNRWA staff with Hamas and systematic sexual violence committed against Israeli women, there have been widespread efforts to deny these reports. Yesterday, Israel revealed further evidence of the involvement of UNRWA workers in the October 7 massacres. Also, the UN published a 23-page report substantiating the systematic rape and sexual violence committed against Israeli women both on and after October 7. Details:

• On Tuesday, Israel declassified an intercepted conversation between UNRWA teacher Yusef Zidan Suleiman Al-Hawajara, boasting about kidnapping an Israeli woman on October 7. Israel also released the names of additional UNRWA teachers and health workers who are Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists, all of whom had direct involvement in the October 7 massacres. The IDF has revealed that over 450 UNRWA employees are military operatives in terrorist groups in Gaza. 

• In January, the New York Times detailed the terror activities of 12 UNRWA employees, which included kidnapping a woman, handing out ammunition, and taking part in the Kibbutz Be’eri massacre where 97 people were brutally murdered. The employees included teachers and a social worker who received UNRWA salaries. 

• On Tuesday, the UN released a report detailing findings from a mission to Israel to gather, analyze and verify allegations of sexual violence committed against Israeli women. The mission team found “clear and convincing information that sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment has been committed against hostages and has reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may be ongoing against those still held in captivity.” The mission team also found “reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred in multiple locations during the 7 October attacks, including rape and gang-rape in at least three locations: the Nova music festival site and its surroundings, Road 232, and Kibbutz Re’im.”  

• According to the report, in most of these incidents, victims were first subjected to rape and then killed. At least two incidents relate to the rape of women’s corpses. 

• In response to the report, President Isaac Herzog urged the international community to condemn these acts and punish Hamas. He said, “Hamas and its allies are trying to discredit the report, to escape from this horrific shame. They will not succeed as the testimonies are shocking indeed. Therefore, now the world must react strongly by condemning and punishing Hamas.” 

FURTHER READING

 

 

STORIES OF HEARTBREAK, HEROISM AND HOPE

 

  • Nir Forti, 29: Slain just before his 30th birthday trip to Spain
  • See this story of 22-year-old German-Israeli Shani Louk, an art and culture lover who spent the early hours of October 7 dancing with her boyfriend at the Nova music festival before the two were brutally murdered by Hamas terrorists. Described as “a pure angel” who cared deeply for humanity, Shani was seen in a video lying lifeless in the back of a truck and being paraded around the streets of Gaza after she was kidnapped from the festival. A piece of Shani’s skull was found, indicating that terrorists beheaded her in Gaza, where her body is still being held. After her death, Shani’s family organized an art exhibition in Tel Aviv called “Forever Young Forever Art” to celebrate her creative soul. 
  • Read about 'Fight for life,' by mothers whose daughters are still hostages in Gaza

UPCOMING WEBINARS

 

The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI): 

Mondays and Thursdays from 11-11:30 am ET

The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI): Regular 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.

JEWISH FEDERATIONS RESOURCES

For latest details on Israel Emergency Campaign Allocations, click here.

 

Jewish Federations' Backgrounders:

At-Risk Youth  

LGBQT Community

Young Children

Volunteers

Women

Pastoral Guidance

Bedouin Communities

Food Security

People with Disabilities

 

Registration for Birthright Israel’s summer round is now open. See this link for important FAQ’s 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 both affected populations and local mental health professionals in Israel. 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. 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.

 

Volunteering: Read this updated Jewish Federations’ update on the latest volunteering opportunities in Israel right now.

 

Read the latest communication from the Community Mobilization Center here.

Update: March 4, 2024

ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (IDF) ACTIVITIES

 

  • The IDF has concluded its two-week operation in Gaza City, during which it reports that more than 100 Hamas militants have been eliminated. 
  • In a surprise attack, fifty terrorist targets were struck Saturday night in Gaza’s Khan Younis is just six minutes, according to the IDF.  
  • This morning, the IDF killed Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants suspected of a rocket attack on Hatzerim, a kibbutz in Southern Israel.
  • Earlier today, one person was killed and seven others wounded in Israel by an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon that struck an orchard near the border community of Margaliot. The victims are all foreign laborers, apparently from Thailand.
  • The IDF attacked a vehicle in southern Lebanon via drone strike, killing three Hezbollah operatives. Among them was Abbas Ahmed Halil, grandson of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
  • Another wave of airstrikes took place in the Rafah area, including near the Philadelphi Corridor (along the border between Gaza and Egypt). The IDF had discovered a network of Hamas tunnels in the area.
  • Three IDF soldiers died on Friday in an explosion in Khan Younis; their names are Sgt. Dolev Malka, Sgt. Afik Tery, and Sgt. Inon Yitzhak. Fourteen others were wounded, five of them severely. In addition, the IDF confirmed the death of Warrant Officer Dennis Yekimov, 33, of Beer Sheva who was killed on Saturday.  
  • A grim total of 586 Israeli soldiers have died since October 7, with 246 perishing since the beginning of the ground war on October 27. Click here for the latest update, in English, on wounded and fallen soldiers.  
  • The IDF has announced a full investigation of the situation last week in which Hamas accused Israel of shooting at thousands of Gazans who were desperately trying to get aid from a convoy of trucks. Israel will attempt new methods of delivering aid to northern Gaza in the wake of the incident. 
  • The US and Jordanian air forces jointly airdropped 38,000 meals into Gaza over the weekend. The IDF and local Gazans have teamed up to protect humanitarian aid. The arrangement is a marker of hope for future cooperation between the two groups after the horrific stampede last Friday.

ROCKETS

 

  • Hezbollah claims to have shelled areas near the Israeli border town of Zarit, but Israel has not confirmed this.
  • In the Red Sea, an Italian naval ship shot down a drone in self-defense—the drone is the same type as those used by the Houthis. Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetti said, “The Houthi terrorist attacks are a serious violation of international law and an attack on the security of the maritime traffic on which our economy depends,” he says.
  • A UK-owned ship, the Rubymar, sank over the weekend after being damaged by a Houthi missile on February 18. The ship’s cargo included more than 20,000 tons of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer, the loss of which poses a significant environmental threat. The Houthis have now perpetrated five dozen attacks in the Red Sea region, which is one of the busiest commercial waterways in the world.

 

CEASEFIRE NEGOTIATIONS

 

  • Officials say Israel has agreed in principle to a six-week ceasefire with Hamas in exchange for the return of hostages. But as a precondition for negotiations, Israel had reportedly demanded a list of the hostages who are still alive.
  • Because Hamas refused to provide such a list, Israel declined to send its negotiators to Cairo, where talks were set to resume yesterday.
  • Earlier today, Israeli sources said that negotiators were asking for information on the number of hostages still alive, rather than the names of all individuals still in captivity, as a prerequisite to continuing talks. Hamas is demanding a permanent end to Israel’s ground invasion first. 
  • President Biden is urging that a ceasefire take effect by this Sunday, which marks the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
  • According to Egyptian and Qatari officials, Yahya Sinwar, the Gazan leader of Hamas, has been out of contact for more than a week. Unnamed Israeli officials have been quoted claiming that Sinwar is not interested in reaching a ceasefire.

MORE ON THE HOSTAGES

 

  • Close to 20,000 marchers arrived in Jerusalem on Saturday to call for the release of the hostages after walking for four days from Kibbutz Reim. The protesters held a rally in Paris Square.
  • With his own wife and daughter freed from captivity in November, Israeli TV writer Hen Avigdori continues to advocate for the release of the rest of the hostages.
  • The Kan public broadcaster on Sunday leaked a recording of the three hostages who, as they emerged from hiding, were mistakenly killed by the IDF last December. Hear the audio of the pleas of Alon Shamriz, Yotam Haim, and Samer Talaka here. The recording was captured by a GoPro camera attached to a canine unit dog from the IDF’s Oketz unit. Despite hearing cries for help, IDF soldiers believed that these sounds were a ruse by the enemy, intended to draw them into an ambush.

 

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

 

  • In a speech in Selma, Alabama, Vice President Kamala Harris made headlines by calling for an “immediate ceasefire” to ameliorate the dire situation in Gaza. In the same speech, however, she made clear that the onus was on Hamas to accept a six-week ceasefire and to return the hostages. "Hamas claims it wants a ceasefire. Well, there is a deal on the table, and, as we have said, Hamas needs to agree to that deal. Let's get a ceasefire, let's reunite the hostages with their families, and let's provide immediate relief to the people of Gaza." Nevertheless, her remarks are being characterized as the most explicit condemnation of Israel’s actions in Gaza to date.
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu is said to be furious that War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz is visiting Washington without his approval. Gantz is set to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Members of Congress from both parties.
  • US Envoy Amos Hochstein is visiting Beirut today to attempt, through diplomatic channels, to stave off war between Israel and Hezbollah.
  • Rishi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister, called out the country’s anti-Israel protests on Friday, noting a “shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality.” He implored British citizens to “stand together to combat the forces of division.” 
  • At the recommendation of President Herzog, public broadcaster Kan has agreed to revise the song lyrics for Israel’s Eurovision entry. Kan reached out to the writers and asked them to change the words. The president said that the Israelis need to be “smart and not just right” in this situation because of the importance of being represented at the contest. 

STORIES OF HEARTBREAK, HEROISM AND HOPE

 

  • In Sderot, schools reopened for the first time since October 7. Roughly 55-60% of students in the border community’s district were in attendance. 
  • Thai field hand Sriaoun Watchara, 32, was taken hostage on October 7 along with five other field hands (two of whom have returned safely to Thailand); 11 other Thais were murdered.
  • A 96-year-old woman, Aviva Sela, escaped the massacre at Be’eri on October 7 even after her Filipina caregiver was murdered and her grandson, who was visiting her at the time, was taken captive. Her daughter and former son-in-law were both slain. 
  • Thousands of ordinary Israelis have become heroes at this time of travail and tragedy.

 

FURTHER READING

 

JEWISH FEDERATIONS 

 

  • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now raised a total of more than $780 million and allocated close to $375 million. For details, click here.

 

See these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:

 

 

Jewish Federations released the Israel Emergency Impact Report and 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. Click on this link for important FAQs to help potential participants and their parents navigate any concerns over the security situation. Interested parties can reserve their spot here. Registration is also open for Onward’s summer internships and fellowship programs – an opportunity for Birthright Israel alumni and for all 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 both 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.

 

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.

JEWISH FEDERATIONS

 

Our Israel Office, having activated 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.



For more information, please contact: Jewish Federations of North America’s Dani Wassner dani.wassner@jewishfederations.org

Update: February 29, 2024

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities  

 

  • Two Israelis were killed today in a terrorist attack in the West Bank. The names of the victims have not yet been released. The attack took place at a gas station near Eli, where four Israelis were killed in terrorist attack last summer.
  • Hundreds of Palestinians were injured and more than a hundred were killed when they swarmed food trucks that entered Gaza this morning. According to the IDF, and despite Hamas claims to the contrary, Israeli gunfire caused just 10 deaths of Palestinians who were moving toward IDF soldiers.   
  • Division 162 and the Nahal Brigade’s combat team have unearthed and mostly destroyed an extensive underground tunnel network that connects northern and southern Gaza. The tunnels are believed to have been used for intergroup communication between the multiple terrorist factions in Gaza. Soldiers found bodies of terrorists, weaponry, military equipment, and storage areas. The tunnels ran under both a hospital and a university. 
  • Two IDF soldiers, company commander Major Iftah Shahar, 25, and platoon commander Captain Itai Seif, 24, were killed by a bomb in a booby-trapped building in Zeitoun. Click here for the latest updates, in Hebrew, on fallen soldiers.  
  • The IDF has killed Hassan Hossein Salami, commander of the Hajir sector of Hezbollah. Salami was responsible for leading a series of attacks against IDF troops, as well as against both civilian and military targets in the North. The IDF is continuing to carry out air strikes against Hezbollah, targeting miliary infrastructure in the south from which terrorists have attacked Israelis in the Golan Heights.  
  • The IDF has announced the opening of a new center near Tel Hashomer Medical Center in Ramat Gan to treat PTSD. The IDF Medical Corps has received around 30,000 phone calls for assistance with emotional distress since the start of the war.  
  • Major General Yehuda Fox formally approved plans for a new West Bank settlement of 3,600 to 13,000 housing units. The announcement has drawn praise from the pro-settlement movement. It came just a few days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called the new settlement plans “inconsistent with international law,” reverting to a longstanding US position that the Trump Administration had reversed. 

Rockets 

 

  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant retaliation. In the wake of Israel’s limited military operations in Rafah, Iran has ordered Hezbollah to escalate its attacks along the Israel-Lebanon border. 
  • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli remains very low, due to Hamas’s significantly diminished capabilities. 
  • In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen. The US also continues to strike at pro-Iranian targets in both Syria and Iraq.  
  • According to Syrian state media, Israel attacked several sites in the Damascus countryside, which Israel believes to be the location of several Iranian-backed strongholds. The IDF did not comment. See videos of the attacks here.  

 

Hostages  

 

  • Currently, 132 hostages remain in Gaza amid ongoing negotiations for their release. The IDF estimates that roughly 30 are dead.  
  • The families of some of the hostages set out yesterday on a four-day march from Kibbutz Re’im to Jerusalem to keep the spotlight on the desperate plight of their loved ones. 
  • Israel's Genesis Prize was awarded to multiple organizations that support hostage families through the Jewish Agency for Israel. Recipients include the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the Jewish Agency Fund for Victims of Terror, Lev Echad, Natal, The Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center, and One Family.  
  • President Biden is expected to invite family members of the hostages to this year’s State of the Union Address. 
  • The Biden Administration remains hopeful that a deal securing the release some of the hostages will be inked by Monday. Hamas has denounced the US-drafted proposal, calling it a “Zionist document.” 

International  

 

  • The Canadian government will begin airdropping humanitarian aid into Gaza at the start of next week. The United States government is weighing doing the same, as land deliveries become increasingly difficult to execute. Supplies would come from Israel, Canada, America, France, Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. 
  • In the Michigan primaries, over 101,000 voters cast “uncommitted” ballots in protest of the Biden Administration’s ongoing support of Israel. For context, roughly 21,000 voters were “uncommitted” in the 2012 Michigan primaries, the last time an incumbent Democratic president ran for reelection. Analysts speculate that a share of 15% or more uncommitted votes would be significant enough for a change in Biden’s approach; the current proportion is around 13%. 
  • “Dance Forever,” Israel’s second song submission for the annual Eurovision contest, has been rejected for being “too political.” The song references the Nova music festival massacre. This comes after the country’s first submission, “October Rain,” was rejected on the same grounds. Read the “Dance Forever” lyrics here.  
  • New Zealand designated the entirety of Hamas as a terrorist entity Thursday morning. The military wing has fallen under this classification since 2010. The country also created a travel ban on “extremist” Israeli settlers who have engaged in violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. 
  • CNN is reporting that Biden officials are growing increasingly concerned that Israel will launch an incursion into Lebanon in the coming months. 

Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism and Hope  

 

  • Shoshana Karsenty, 85, an artist and art teacher, was murdered by Hamas in Kibbutz Be’eri. A native of Argentina, she moved to Israel at the age of fifteen. Read her story here.  
  • Narseen Yousef, a Druze mother of four, fooled Hamas into revealing their plan on October 7. She saved her community of Moshav Yated, a predominantly Jewish village on the Southern Gaza border. Using her native Arabic, she convinced the assailants that she was on their side and extracted information which she relayed to the IDF. 
  • Hagay Lober, an actor and rabbi, staged a one-man play about the Hamas attack, aptly titled “October 7.” The show was produced by Jerusalem’s Aspaklaria theatre company. The production comes one month after Lober’s son, staff sergeant Elisha Yehonatan Lober, fell in battle.  
  • Three Israeli women from Ra’anana created “Scarves of Love,” a project that aims to knit one scarf for every hostage in captivity. Their initiative has had a ripple effect, with dozens of volunteers pitching in. 

 

Further Reading 

 

  • Sherwin Pomerantz, past president of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, penned an op-ed on the inevitability of a two-state solution
  • The increased accessibility of AI has shifted the landscape of the cyberspace; when it comes to war discourse, it is no different. Read a report of how a group associated with the Muslim Brotherhood has attempted to impact public opinion of Israel’s war on Hamas here
  • Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh of the Palestinian Authority is stepping down. President Mahmoud Abbas, the highest-ranking official in the Palestinian Authority, is staying in his position.  

Jewish Federations' Resources

 

  • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now raised a total of more than $780 million and allocated close to $375 million. For details, click here.   
  • See these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations: 
  • At-Risk Youth   
  • LGBTQ+ Community  
  • Young Children
  • Volunteers  
  • Women  
  • Pastoral Guidance  
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security  
  • People with Disabilities   
  • 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 FAQs 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 is 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 both 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 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.  

Update: February 26, 2024

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities 

  • During an evacuation of civilians from Khan Yunis in Gaza, the IDF found terrorists who were concealed along with civilians and attempting to escape with them. The terrorists were apprehended by the Seventh Armored Brigade, which also killed several other militants and discovered a cache of weapons, including rifles, machine guns, and grenades. 

 

  • The IDF found a terrorist cell that had been using drones to attack Israelis; the Israeli Air Force (IAF) neutralized the cell. The IAF attacked Hamas’s aerial unit, including striking rocket launch posts that were pointed toward Israel.  

 

  • Meanwhile, the IDF announced that it has concluded a weeklong raid on Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, where both militants and weapons had been found; about 200 terror suspects, including some who allegedly participated in the October 7 massacre, have been arrested there. There is also evidence that Israeli hostages were held captive for a period at the same hospital, including boxes of sealed medicine labeled with the names of hostages. 

 

  • Two IDF soldiers, Staff Sgt. Ido Eli Zrihen, 20, and Staff Sgt. Nerya Belete, 21, died while fighting with the Givati Reconnaissance Unit in southern Gaza. An officer and two soldiers in the Givati Brigade were also seriously wounded. Click here for the latest information, in Hebrew, on fallen soldiers.  

 

  • Violence has erupted once again in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, where IDF soldiers have now been redeployed. Major Eyal Shuminov, 24, of the Givati Brigade was killed by an anti-tank missile on Saturday in the neighborhood. The district is being eyed as a potential site for a “humanitarian pocket,” where some semblance of ordinary Gazan life would be able to resume once Hamas is defeated; under the plan, local merchants and civic leaders would be empowered to distribute humanitarian aid. 

Rockets 

 

  • Multiple Hezbollah rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome on Saturday over Kiryat Shmona. Watch the interceptions here. Also, Israel’s long-range Arrow air defense system shot down a missile over the Red Sea that was headed for Israel. Watch the video here
  • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains very low, due to Hamas’s capabilities being significantly degraded by the IDF. 
  • In joint airstrikes, the US and UK struck at least 18 Houthi rebel targets in Yemen; they included an underground storage facility, weapons, and a helicopter. Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the country are attempting to ban ships owned by Israeli, American, or British companies—or sailing under their flags—from the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Arabian Sea. After the ban was announced, a Houthi missile struck a British-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, setting it on fire. 

 

Hostages 

 

  • The IDF confirmed that Sgt. Oz Daniel, 19, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped along with the rest of his tank crew, on October 7, has died in captivity.  
  • Last week’s talks in Paris on a new hostage deal appear to have made progress; the Israeli, American, Egyptian, and Qatari negotiators developed what an Israeli official called “a solid basis for discussions.” Another Israeli official reported that Hamas has “dropped some of its demands.” Channel 12 in Israel carried the statement that if Hamas goes along with the agreement, then there is “a high chance that, before March 11 [when Ramadan begins], we will see hostages freed for the first time since [the first truce collapsed at the end of] November.” There are an estimated 134 hostages still imprisoned by Hamas, but only about 100 thought to still be alive. 
  • Israel’s War Cabinet has approved a new round of talks this week, to be coordinated by Qatar. They will take place in Egypt. 
  • Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning that an invasion of Rafah, the southernmost city (on the border with Egypt) where more than a million Palestinians are now sheltering, would mark the last phase of the war. He said that a hostage deal could delay this offensive, but the invasion will take place no matter what. 
  • The prime minister released his plan for postwar Gaza, which includes continuing control of not only Gaza by the IDF, but also the borders between both Gaza and Israel and Gaza and Egypt. The plan has been rejected by Palestinian leadership; it also does not follow American prescriptions for the future of the enclave. 
  • The prime minister said that 99 Members of Knesset are opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, despite the insistence of the US and other countries that the war must give way to plans for such an entity. A majority of Israelis, recent surveys have shown, also disagree with the idea.  

International 

 

  • An officer is the US Air Force died today after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The self-immolation was a protest against what he called, before lighting the match, Israeli “genocide” in Gaza.  
  • Secretary of State Tony Blinken is expressing disappointment with the prime minister’s plan to build 3,000 new homes in the West Bank. He said that “new settlements are counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace.” In a reversal of the Trump Administration’s view of the West Bank settlements, Blinken called them “inconsistent with international law.” 
  • Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, from the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party, claimed that US President Joe Biden “is leading us to a disaster” in that a Palestinian state adjacent to Israel would “lead to a Holocaust.”  

Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism and Hope 

 

  • Arbel Yehud, 28, a third-generation resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz, was taken captive along with her brother, Dolev, and her boyfriend, Ariel Cunio. Although many women have been released by Hamas, Arbel has not.  
  • Keith Siegel, 64, and his wife Aviva, 62, who made aliyah from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, were taken hostage from their home on Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Along with a neighbor and her two children, they were driven into Gaza in their own car. Aviva was released on November 26, but Keith is still in Gaza. 
  • Watch this heartwarming video of Kibbutz Be’eri children singing. Their kibbutz, which is located just three miles from the border with Gaza. was one of the worst sites of the massacre by Hamas  
  • Watch 12 Hours, a six-and-a-half minute English-language mini-documentary by Eli Katzoff about Einav Zangauker, who, along with her family, is protesting to secure the release of her son, Matan. In the film, the family pitches a tent on the highway and blocks traffic to make their demands. 

 

Further Reading 

 

Jewish Federations  

 

  • 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:

 



 

  • Registration for Birthright Israel’s summer round is now open. See this link for important FAQs 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 is 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 both 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 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

Update: February 22, 2024

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

 

  • A terror attack took place just outside Jerusalem this morning. At least one Israeli was killed and eleven were wounded, with some in serious condition, including a 23-year-old pregnant woman. Three terrorists who opened fire on cars waiting in traffic were all killed. Hamas referred to the attack as a “heroic operation.”
  • The IDF has launched a large-scale operation in a Gaza City neighborhood, during which troops have been raiding Hamas sites and killing terrorists. Over the past day, the IDF directed airstrikes against ten Hamas sites in the area, and have located and destroyed a rocket launcher that had been readied for an attack on Israel.
  • Meanwhile, in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, IDF troops killed more than fifteen Hamas operatives in fighting, while the Navy carried out strikes against vessels belonging to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Numerous tunnels were also destroyed.
  • Despite considerable international opposition, senior Israeli officials continue to say that the IDF will fight Hamas in the city of Rafah to destroy the last significant bastions of Hamas power.
  • The IDF has also advanced plans to establish a local Palestinian governing body to replace Hamas in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, in what is seen as a pilot program for “the day after.” IDF officials have already met with a group of unnamed Palestinian community leaders who will be tasked with governing residents of the area who did not flee southward due to the fighting. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel wants local Palestinian community leaders who are not affiliated with either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority to take over the governance of Gaza after the war.

Rockets

 

  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant Israeli retaliations. Earlier today, two anti-tank missiles were fired from Lebanon. One of the missiles hit a home in Yuval, causing considerable damage; the second struck an open area near Kiryat Shmona. There are no reports of injuries in the attacks as most residents of the region have been evacuated.
  • 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. Earlier today, a long-range rocket was fired at Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat, and sirens sounded throughout the town. The rocket was intercepted over the Red Sea by Israel’s Arrow long-range ballistic missile defense system.

 

Hostages

 

  • Despite Israel's maintaining that Hamas has made unrealistic demands, negotiations over a new hostage deal continue. Israeli officials are likely to attend another high-level summit in Paris tomorrow, aimed at securing a deal. As they did during the first such summit in the French capital late last month, Mossad chief David Barnea, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, and CIA chief Bill Burns are all likely to attend.
  • Over one month after a special medical shipment entered Gaza, Qatar says that it has received confirmation from Hamas that it has begun delivering medications for the hostages in Gaza.

International Response

 

  • Britain andJordan have airdropped four tons of aid including medicines, fuel, and food to Tal Al-Hawa Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, Britain’s Foreign Office said yesterday. The UK-funded aid was delivered by the Jordanian Air Force.
  • United Airlines has announced a resumption of its flights to Israel beginning in March, becoming the first US-based carrier to do so. El Al continued to fly to Israel throughout the war, as did several United Arab Emirates-based airlines and others. Some European carriers resumed flights last month.
  • According to the media, the British government said it will weigh a potential suspension of weapons exports to Israel if it moves forward with a ground offensive in Gaza’s southern city, Rafah. Reports say that the United Kingdom has yet to make any decision regarding a suspension of arms export licenses.
  • Israel’s Association of Rape Crisis Centers has released and sent to the United Nations a graphic report detailing evidence of systematic sexual and gender-based crimes at the Nova Festival, in homes in southern Israel, on IDF bases, and in Hamas captivity.
  • Some background and information from the report (warning, includes graphic and disturbing content):
  • Despite evidence of systematic brutal sexual violence and rape committed by Hamas terrorists on and after October 7, many leading women’s rights organizations have remained silent or have issued muted reactions in the face of these horrors. Many others continue to deny the abundance of forensic and video evidence as well as testimonies provided by first responders, survivors of the October 7 massacres, and other witnesses.
  • According to the just-released 39-page report, many of the rapes were carried out in a group and the attacks were often perpetrated in front of family members or friends, to increase pain, terror, and humiliation. In most cases, the victims of the sexual violence – which included both men and women – were murdered during or after the sexual assault.
  • According to the report, “It appears that the perpetrators’ actions match patterns of wartime sexual violence documented in the literature; practices that describe rape and gender-based violence often appear in combination with sadistic practices with demonstratively brutal characteristics.”
  • The report explains that typically sexual violence is characterized by “delayed disclosure,” with most cases being reported sometimes months or even decades after the incident. It reaffirms that “no survivor should feel obligated to ‘serve’ the world's demand for information."
  • Many of the bodies of victims were found shackled and bound to other victims. The genitals of both men and women were brutally mutilated. In some cases, bodies were booby-trapped.
  • One survivor who walked around the site of the festival after the massacres described it as an “apocalypse of bodies, girls without clothes, some missing their upper, some their lower parts.”
  • On Kibbutz Be’eri where 90 residents were murdered, ZAKA volunteers described in graphic detail the signs of sexual assault on women’s bodies that they witnessed upon entering the homes of victims. Rescue workers and IDF soldiers who evacuated bodies in other kibbutzim reported similar sites.
  • Lieutenant Tamar Bar Shimon was serving on her IDF base when terrorists infiltrated. She was threatened with a weapon and demanded to remove her uniform.
  • Chen and Agam Goldstein who were released from captivity recounted that they know of at least three cases of female hostages being sexually assaulted.
  • Raz Cohen and Shoham Gueta survived the music festival and testified to witnessing terrorists raping and stabbing a young woman. Cohen said that during the brutal rape, even after the victim was no longer moving, the terrorist continued raping her. Another witness testified that he saw between eight and ten terrorists gang-raping a woman. “When they finished, they were laughing and the last one shot her in the head.”
  • The report concludes with a call to action: “When most of the victims of sexual assaults are murdered, we have a moral and humanitarian obligation to amplify their silent cry.”

Stories Of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope

 

  • Lior Waitzman was murdered by Hamas terrorists while out biking near Sderot on October 7. The 32-year-old Netflix soundman was training for an Ironman competition.
  • Many videos are circulating of reunions between soldiers and their families, following their return from service. Watch this video of 73-year-old Akiva Yagur who has put his IDF uniform back on to “serve in the army and protect the Jewish people” at this difficult time. In this short and moving piece in Hebrew, he visits his 102-year-old, ever-proud mother.
  • Listen to this testimony from Agam Goldstein of the horrors of sexual abuse in Hamas captivity, as told to her by a fellow hostage before she was released

 

Further Reading

 

Jewish Federations

 

  • 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:

 

 

  • 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 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.

 

Update: February 20, 2024

JEWISH FEDERATIONS AND PARTNERS

 

• One of the many projects being supported by Jewish Federations through the Israel Emergency Campaign is a program for midwives to support pregnant women affected by the war, including those whose partners may have been killed, evacuees and others. More than 100 midwives are partnering with the Israel Midwives Association and the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization to accompany women through their pregnancy and delivery; they are providing emotional, practical, and other support. Read more here.

 

• Last week, the US Senate passed the “National Security Act,” a supplemental appropriations bill for military aid to both Israel and Ukraine, along with a significant increase to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). On Wednesday, Jewish Federations took out full-page ads, signed by additional Jewish organizations, in Politico and The Hill to show gratitude to the 70 senators who voted for the bill. To read Federations’ leadership message, click here. For more details on the Act, click here. And to read Federation Chair Julie Platt’s op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, click here. For an Action Alert encouraging the House to take up the bill, click here.

ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (IDF) ACTIVITIES

 

• Yesterday, an IDF soldier died of wounds sustained last week, bringing the total number of soldiers who have been killed since the ground operation began to 236, and 568 since October 7. See details of all the fallen soldiers here.

 

• The IDF has now withdrawn its last reserve brigade from the Gaza Strip, as the military says that it has neared the end of its offensive in Khan Younis. The IDF has been withdrawing much of its reserve forces from the Gaza Strip in recent weeks, leaving the standing army to continue the fighting. Government officials say the IDF aims to release reservists to help Israel’s economy, and to give troops a break before they are likely called up again, as lower-level intensity fighting in Gaza is expected to last for another year.

 

• Background: Hamas' strategy is founded on hiding under and within civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, in order to maximize civilian casualties and cause international pressure to prevent Israel from rightfully defending itself. Hamas has systematically exploited hospitals as cover for its tunnel system and to store weapons, launch rockets, shelter terrorists, operate command and operation centers, and hide hostages.

 

  • Hamas has been conducting terror operations from hospitals for many years. In 2009 the IDF reported that during Operation Cast Lead, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh operated a command and control center out of Shifa hospital and took over a ward of the hospital, believing that the IDF would not attack the hospital due to potential harm to civilians. Hamas isn't the only terrorist group to use hospitals as cover for military operations. The Al Salem hospital in Mosul was used by ISIS as a base for its attacks and was bombed by American troops.
  • Earlier in the war, much attention was placed on Shifa Hospital. This week, the New York Times reported, “Hamas used the hospital for cover, stored weapons inside it and maintained a hardened tunnel beneath the complex that was supplied with water, power and air-conditioning.”
  • The director of the Kamal Adwan hospital in northern Gaza admitted that up to 100 Hamas terrorists hid there and that some even had their own offices.
  • The IDF uncovered a tunnel under the Rantisi Hospital where it believes Hamas hid hostages.
  • The IDF said yesterday 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.
  • Hamas terrorists continue to operate from and around Nasser and Al-Amal Hospitals, which includes launching a rocket from within Nasser.
  • The US corroborated Israel’s position about the misuse of hospitals by Hamas, stating in a Pentagon release that, “We do have information that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad uses 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.
  • According to International Law expert Michael Schmitt, “The IDF appears to have taken numerous measuresto fulfill the obligation, such as by providing the requisite warnings, including medical teams and Arabic speakers when operating near hospitals, facilitating the evacuation of medical facilities, and maintaining dialogue with hospital authorities.”
  • Yesterday, the IDF said it is conducting a “precise and limited” operation inside Nasser hospital. As it has done with other hospitals, the IDF has liaised with the staff of Nasser to ensure that the hospital can remain operational. The IDF spokesperson said, “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.”

ROCKETS

 

• 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, 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.

 

HOSTAGES

 

• Perhaps the most famous of the hostages is the Bibas Family, particularly following widely-viewed video footage from October 7 of the young mother being kidnapped along with her two infant children. The two children are the last remaining minors to be held captive, and many believe they are no longer alive. Yesterday, the IDF released video footage (see herehere and here) that it had captured, showing the mother being led by gunman on October 7, while she tried to shelter her children. The Government of Israel has said that this is concrete proof that the family were alive when kidnapped, and that Hamas is responsible for their safety and well-being.

 

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

 

• Israel’s President Isaac Herzog published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last week, heavily criticizing the case brought by South Africa against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague, and in particular noting how the case manipulated the President’s own words and failed to recognize the true magnitude of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by Hamas.

• At the ICJ hearing, the South African Government claimed that Israeli ‘apartheid’ against Palestinians was worse than the crimes committed in Apartheid-era South Africa.

•  Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva accused Israel of carrying out genocide in Gaza and fighting only against women and children. “What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments,” he said, before adding, “In fact, it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.” In response, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz summoned the Brazilian Ambassador to Israel to meet him at Yad Vashem, where the Ambassador was reprimanded. Brazil’s President has now recalled his Ambassador home for consultations.

STORIES OF HEARTBREAK, HEROISM AND HOPE

 

• See the story of 61-year-old Lior Rudaeff, an immigrant from Argentina who has a deep love for the earth of Israel and for Kibbutz life. He taught generations of young people how to drive tractors. A volunteer medic and ambulance driver, on the morning of October 7 he left his home to defend his Kibbutz and family, and has not been heard from since. Lior is presumed to be in Hamas captivity and requires medication for a heart condition. His wife Yaffa, four children and grandchildren are eagerly awaiting his return home.

• Read about Shachar Zemach, 39, the peace activist who defended his kibbutz until his last bullet.

 

FURTHER READING

 

•  JTA: Jewish teens are looking at a new factor in their college search: antisemitism

• Former Chair of Israel’s Bank of Israel (Federal Reserve): On Moody's credit downgrade: Economic policy change cannot wait

• See this article by international law expert Michael Schmitt on Hamas’s misuse of hospitals for terror purposes and the legal implications as dictated by international law.

• Why the conflict on Israel’s northern border is growing more intense

• Watch haredi Rabbi David Leibel on the changing role of labor in the ultra-Orthodox world since October 7, and why haredim must join the workforce.

•  Israel on the international legal docket

JEWISH FEDERATIONS

 

•  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:

 

     o LGBTQ+ Community

     o Young Children

     o Volunteers

     o Women

     o Pastoral Guidance

     o Bedouin Communities

     o Food Security

     o People with Disabilities

 

• 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 Melody.Desanto@jfna.org 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 FAQs to help potential participants and their parents navigate any concerns over the security situation. Interested parties can reserve their spot here. Registration 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 both 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.

Update: February 15, 2024

Jewish Federations and Partners

  • This week, the US Senate passed a Supplemental Aid package that includes approximately $14 billion in aid to Israel and $400 million in funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) needed to ensure houses of worship remain safe. Jewish Federations thanked the US Senate for passing this critical aid, and took out a thank-you ad in The Hill and Politico.
  • Untold numbers of Israeli children have been traumatized by the events of October 7 and its aftermath. The “Resilience for Our Children” nonprofit, a recipient of Jewish Federations’ Emergency Fund allocations, is working to deal with this challenge. See more here.

Rockets

 

  • 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.

Hostages

 

  • 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:
  • LGBQT Community
  • Young Children
  • Volunteers
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • 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 Melody.Desanto@jfna.org 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.

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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.

Update: February 12, 2024

Jewish Federations and Partners

  • 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.

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.
  • Also found in the tunnel were notebooks and documents belonging to Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar. 
  • 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.

Hostages

 

  • A new survey shows that Israelis are split on the question of whether the government should prioritize the freeing of hostages over defeating Hamas. Some 47% of Jewish Israelis insist that the return of the hostages should take precedence over the toppling of Hamas, while 42% express the opposite view. See details of this and other questions asked, here.
  • Meanwhile, 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.

 

Rockets

 

  • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains low. In the last two weeks, it has averaged just one or two per day.
  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets.
  • 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.

 

International Response

 

  • Moody’s rating agency lowered Israel’s credit rating from A1 to A2 and declared its outlook as “negative." This is the first time that Israel’s rating has been downgraded in recent memory. The agency attributed its adjustment to the war and related costs but also pointed out its concerns over the financial management of the government and its budget priorities, coupled with the effects of political instability in Israel. The government, especially Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, downplayed the decision and attacked Moody’s decision as being “politically motivated.” 
  • There was a flurry of activity this week on Capitol Hill as both the House and Senate took up bills for military assistance to Israel. The House narrowly voted down the $17.6 billion Republican-led bill as Democrats insisted on incorporating assistance to Ukraine and international humanitarian funding. However, the Senate bill, which includes $14.1 billion for Israel, $400 million in Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) funds, $60.1 billion for Ukraine, and $10 billion in humanitarian aid, has advanced.

Stories Of Heartbreak, Heroism and Hope

 

  • Listen to the music of 26-year-old Shaul Greenglick, a talented singer from Ra’anana who auditioned on “The Next Star” to represent Israel at the Eurovision competition just weeks before he was killed while fighting Hamas. Greenglick, who comes from a family of talented musicians, dropped out of the competition due to his military duties. This week, his siblings performed a song in his memory on the season finale of the show.
  • More than 300,000 reserve soldiers were called up immediately after October 7. Many have now been released after months of fighting, and Israelis are constantly sharing video footage of soldiers returning home. Watch this short video from a staff person in our Israel office. It depicts the emotional return after months serving in Gaza of the security guard whowork at her children’s school.
  • At least 134 hostages remain in Gaza, and according to most estimates, close to 100 are still alive. Read some of their stories here:
  • Daniel Perez was last seen and heard from on the morning of October 7. The 22-year-old resident of the community of Yad Binyamin in central Israel is the son of Rabbi Doron Perez, the head of the World Mizrachi movement. Daniel is an active runner, athlete, and ardent supporter of the Liverpool soccer team. His family has organized a weekly run where supporters show their solidarity with the family and implore that Daniel be released.
  • Amiram Cooper, an 85-year-old grandfather of nine, is one of the founders of Kibbutz Nir Oz. His wife Nurit was one of the first hostages released in a deal. He is a poet and composer and is described as a lover of peace and a man of ideas. On the 25th anniversary of the kibbutz’s founding in 1980, he composed a poem entitled Love Song.
  • Kaid Farhan Elkadi lives in a Bedouin community in southern Israel. On the morning of October 7, he was abducted from Kibbutz Magen where he was guarding a packaging facility. The 53-year-old is married and is the father of 11 children.
  • Edan Alexander is a 19-year-old lone soldier who was born in Tel Aviv but grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey. After high school, he returned to Israel to join the Golani Brigade of the IDF. He is an avid swimmer and loves Thai and Japanese foods. His mother says that he is “a great all-American kid." He had plans to attend college in the United States and study business.
  • Noa Argamani is a dual Israeli and Chinese citizen who was kidnapped while attending the Supernova music festival with her boyfriend Avinatan Or, who was also taken captive. She is a student at Ben Gurion University. A video taken in the immediate aftermath of her kidnapping has been widely circulated and shows Noa yelling, “Don’t Kill Me!” Noa’s mother Liora is suffering from terminal brain cancer and has pleading for her daughter’s release. She wrote to President Biden in December, "All that’s running through my mind before I part ways with my family forever is the chance to hug my daughter, my only child, one last time.”
  • Alex Danzig (Dancyg) is a 75-year-old father and grandfather. Born in Warsaw after the Holocaust, he is a dual citizen of Poland and Israel. He was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7. A Holocaust scholar and historian at Yad Vashem, he has won awards from the government of Poland for his educational work bringing together Israeli and Polish children to learn about the Holocaust. A campaign called “StandwithAlex” calling attention to his captivity has been spray-painted in public spaces in Warsaw. Danzig requires medication for a heart condition.
  • Doron Steinbrecher is a 30-year-old veterinary nurse who was kidnapped from her apartment in Kibbutz Kfar Aza. At 10:30 in the morning of October 7, she sent a message to friends saying, “They’ve arrived. They have me.” Doron has a wide smile that radiates warmth and love. She requires daily medication.
  • Orión Hernández Radoux is a 31-year-old Mexican and French citizen who was attending the music festival with his girlfriend, Shani Louk, who was later found dead. He was in Israel as a tourist at the time he was taken captive. He is described as “a man of music and festivals, love and family, adventure and peace.” His young daughter is eagerly awaiting her father’s return.

Further Reading

 

 

Jewish Federations Resources

 

  • See these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • LGBQT Community
  • Young Children
  • Volunteers
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • 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 Melody.Desanto@jfna.org 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 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 Federation 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.

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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 you as the situation develops.

Update: February 8, 2024

Jewish Federations and Partners

  • Join Jewish Federations tomorrow, Friday, February 9 at noon ET for a special briefing for advocacy leaders with exclusive updates on aid to Israel, the significant congressional developments of the past week, and the adoption of the IHRA definition to protect communities and colleges. Register here.
  • Join the Jewish Agency for Israel’s webinar - Navigating Crisis: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the War with Hamas & the Road to a Brighter Future; Introduction by Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Major General (Res.) Doron Almog. Monday, February 12, 2024 at 12:30 pm ET. Register here.
  • Registration for Birthright Israel’s summer round is now open. See this link for important FAQ’s 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. 

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

 

  • Staff Sgt. (res.) Hanan Drori, 26, died from a fungal infection after being seriously injured in Gaza, bringing the total of troops killed in the ground offensive against Hamas to 227(and to 563 since the outbreak of war). See Drori’s story here and details of all the fallen soldiers here.
  • Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the country last night. In his comments he said, “Peace and security require total victory over Hamas. We cannot accept anything else…. Without total victory Iran and its terror proxies—Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and others—will be emboldened to subvert moderate states in the Middle East; they’ll threaten the entire free world….Only total victory will prevent that…. Total victory over Hamas will not take years. It will take months. Victory is within reach.” Watch his full remarks here.
  • The IDF uncovered a strategic tunnel under the city of Khan Younis that was used to hide high-ranking members of the organization and to hold hostages. The tunnel is believed to have held twelve hostages at various times, three of whom were released two months ago. During searches, several rooms were discovered inside the underground complex, including a barred cell where hostages were held, a bathroom, and a rest area used by terrorists holding the hostages. Additionally, intelligence materials and weapons belonging to Hamas were found. IDF Intelligence estimates suggest millions of dollars were invested in the construction of the facility, which is part of an intricate and interconnected underground network. It was linked to another tunnel where additional hostages were held. See video footage as well as photos of the findings.
  • Israel’s Government and the IDF are working on a plan that will see a lengthening of compulsory military service as well as reserve duty days, as a result of the war. Military service for males (and some females) will be extended from 32 to 36 months, and the age when males will no longer have to perform reserve duty will be changed from 40 to 45 for enlisted soldiers, (and up to the age of 50 for officers). 
  • Khan Younis in southern Gaza has been the site of the war’s heaviest fighting in recent weeks. Dozens of terrorists, including high-ranking commanders, have been killed in targeted airstrikes and close-quarters combat. The IDF continues to uncover tunnels, weapons stores and other munitions aimed at killing Israelis. Military analysts have said that defeating Hamas in southern Gaza is key to defeating the terrorist organization and to removing its threat to Israel and the greater region. Some background:
  • The IDF has dismantled hundreds of Hamas posts in Khan Younis including a military intelligence building, tunnel shafts, launch pads for firing rockets, a rocket manufacturing facility, communications posts and offices of many senior officials.
  • Over the weekend, IDF troops raided the main headquarters of Hamas’s Khan Younis Brigade. The complex, known as the Al-Qadsia Outpost, also housed the office of Muhammad Sinwar, a senior Hamas military commander and the brother of the terror group’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. The outpost included a training ground of model targets (including mock entrances to Israeli communities), IDF bases, and military vehicles, all of which were used by Hamas to do simulations and to prepare for the October 7 massacres.
  • IDF discoveries in Khan Younis continue to reveal Hamas’s strategy of hiding behind human shields. The IDF uncovered an extensive tunnel system where Israeli hostages were held that was built under civilian infrastructure. Hamas terrorists continue to operate from and around Nasser and Al-Amal hospitals and launched a rocket from within Nasser Hospital. Terrorist infrastructure and weapons have been uncovered in the vicinity of schools and mosques, and Hamas terrorists have been found hiding within civilian shelters.
  • The IDF established a humanitarian corridor from the city that was used by 120,000 Palestinians to evacuate to safer areas. The IDF identified 500 terror suspects hiding within the civilian population who were handed over for questioning. Field hospitals donated by Jordan and the UAE are operating in Khan Younis.

Hostages

 

  • According to a report in the New York Times, Israel believes that 32 out of the 136 hostages are dead. In Israel, a careful process exists for declaring the death of a soldier where there is no body. The decision is assigned to a special committee made up of representatives of the IDF, the Ministry of Health, the Chief Rabbinate, medical personnel and others. According to the media, there are a further twenty hostages where insufficient evidence is available to make a clear determination. In the event that these people have also perished, then only 84 of the hostages remain alive.
  • Meanwhile, it is understood that Hamas has issued a counter-proposal to a possible hostage deal being suggested by Qatar, Egypt and the US (to which Israel responded positively). According to many reports, Hamas has now proposed:
  • In Phase One, all women, children, elderly, the injured, and female soldiers (35 in total) would be released in exchange for one day of ceasefire per hostage plus ten days of ceasefire for negotiations. In addition, Israel would release 1,500 prisoners, 500 of whom would be chosen by Hamas (and would include some terror “heavyweights” such as those serving time for murdering Israelis, as well as those who participated in the October 7 massacres). Hamas is also demanding that the IDF withdraws its forces from the centers of cities in Gaza and that humanitarian aid to the Strip is doubled.
  • In Phase Two, all remaining hostages would be released in exchange for a further 45 days of ceasefire, a large number of Hamas prisoners freed, and the IDF would redeploy all forces outside the Gaza Strip.
  • In Phase Three, all bodies of Israelis would be returned in exchange for the bodies of Hamas terrorists; there would also be a third period of 45 days of ceasefire. A permanent arrangement for Gaza would also be negotiated. Israel is reportedly willing to consider allowing Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar to leave Gaza alive and go into exile as part of a deal.
  • It is clear that Israel will not accept all of these conditions; however, negotiations continue.

Rockets

 

  • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains low. In the last two weeks, it has averaged just one or two per day.
  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets. Today, three soldiers were injured (one seriously) when terrorists fired an anti-tank missile at the city of Kiryat Shmone.
  • 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.

 

International Response

 

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken began the second day of his seventh wartime visit to Israel. He met with war cabinet ministers Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot today and then with Opposition Leader Yair Lapid.
  • Yesterday, Blinken met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other leaders. Read the full text of his remarks in Jerusalem yesterday, here.

 

Stories Of Heartbreak, Heroism and Hope

 

 

Further Reading

 

Jewish Federations

 

  • See these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • LGBQT Community
  • Young Children
  • Volunteers
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now surpassed $775 million system-wide; and has allocated more than $300 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. See a detailed update on allocations here.
  • 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 Melody.Desanto@jfna.org 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.
  • 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 both 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.

Update: February 5, 2024

Jewish Federations and Partners

 

  • 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 backgrounder for more information.
  • Registration for Birthright Israel’s summer round is now open. See this link for important information that will 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 others looking for a longer experience in Israel. 

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

 

  • An additional IDF soldier fell in battle in Gaza yesterday, bringing total IDF losses since the start of the ground operation to 225, and since the outbreak of war to 561. See details of all the fallen soldiers here.
  • Israeli troops killed dozens of Palestinian terrorists in battles throughout the Gaza Strip over the last 24 hours. In Khan Younis, which has been the site of the heaviest fighting in recent weeks, dozens of terrorists were killed in airstrikes and close-quarters combat. The IDF also uncovered weapons stores, including rockets, assault rifles, sniper rifles, grenades, and magazines.
  • Over the weekend, IDF troops raided the main headquarters of Hamas’ Khan Younis Brigade, used by the terror group for training ahead of October 7. The complex, known as the Al-Qadsia Outpost, also housed the office of Muhammad Sinwar, a senior Hamas military commander and the brother of the terror group’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. The outpost included a training ground of model targets (including mock entrances to Israeli communities), IDF bases, and military vehicles, all of which were used by Hamas to simulate and prepare for the October 7 attacks.

Hostages

 

  • Reports suggest that Israel has accepted a hostage-release agreement, but that Hamas has not given its approval. According to some sources, under the first stage of the emerging agreement, Hamas would release some 40 hostages comprised of children, women, the elderly, and those with major injuries. In return, Israel would agree to a six-week ceasefire and would release thousands of Hamas terrorists, including those serving time for murdering Israelis, from prison.
  • It is believed that 136 hostages remain in Gaza. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of at least 29 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 of two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.
  • Meanwhile, superstar singer and social media influencer Montana Tucker, who traveled to Israel after October 7, walked the red carpet at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night in a dress meant to call attention to the Israelis who remain hostages in Gaza. In a nod to the 253 hostages taken captive by Hamas Tucker’s dress featured a large yellow ribbon at its center.

Rockets

 

  • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains low. In the last two weeks, it has averaged just one or two per day. Watch this troubling video of the immediate aftermath of a rocket strike in Ashkelon.
  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets. Hezbollah by the numbers:
  • 2,000 rockets and dozens of anti-tank guided missiles and drones fired at Israel since October 8.
  • 80,000 residents of communities along the northern border evacuated.
  • 430 homes on the border were damaged by Hezbollah attacks.
  • 3 IDF divisions deployed along the border have responded with defensive and offensive operations.
  • 3,400 Hezbollah targets have been struck, and 200 terrorists targeted, with hits on 150 terror cells and 120 Hezbollah observation posts.
  • 40 weapon stores have been struck along with 40 command and control centers.

 

  • 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.
  • Background: Hamas launched the first rocket attacks from Gaza in 2002. Since then, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups have been launching rockets and other projectiles from the Gaza Strip as a means of imposing physical and emotional terror on the people of Israel. The only reason the devastation from the rockets is not far worse is thanks to the critical investment in the Iron Dome defense system. Some further background:
  • Since 2022, the intensity of fire from Gaza has increased, with the most affected target being the town of Sderot, whose border is located under one mile from the Gaza Strip. Over the years, the rockets became more sophisticated with capabilities of reaching much deeper into Israel. Before October 7, approximately 20,000 rockets were launched into Israel from Gaza.
  • Since October 7, over 12,000 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza. The attacks have directly killed 15 people and injured hundreds more. Attacks have been launched from civilian infrastructure, including safe zones the IDF set up for humanitarian purposes.
  • The constant rocket fire has had devastating mental health effects on Israelis, especially residents of southern communities. The Sderot Foundation has reported that 90% of the city’s residents, including 70 percent of the city’s children. The scope of the October 7th attacks and the resulting war have been linked to a nationwide massive increase in PTSD and other emotional disorders, including depression and anxiety.
  • The IDF has identified that between 10-20% of rockets launched from Gaza misfire, causing harm and sometimes death to Palestinians, such as the case of a failed rocket that hit a Palestinian hospital complex early in the war – an event that media initially blamed widely on Israel.
  • The recording of our webinar with international law experts is available. In addition, Professor Arthur Van Coller, a South African law professor, issued a report on Hamas's use of Qassam rockets that found that "directing unguided rockets toward a densely populated urban area amounts to an unacceptable level of recklessness and risk to the civilian population…The use of [these] rockets implicates the customary international law prohibition against indiscriminate attacks.”
  • Since its development, Iron Dome, as well as other missile and rocket defense systems, have been critical to Israel’s defense. The IDF has stated that the Iron Dome has a remarkable over 90% success rate and has shot down thousands of rockets that were fired indiscriminately at civilian populations. A complete battery costs approximately $100 million to produce, and each interceptor costs approximately $50,000.

International Response

 

  • US President Joe Biden has urged senators to vote for a $118 billion bipartisan national security deal. The package includes new border enforcement policy as well as wartime aid for Ukraine, Israel, and other US allies; and earmarks $14 billion in military aid to the Jewish state. Biden said that the agreement “provides Israel what they need to protect their people and defend itself against Hamas terrorists,” and “life-saving humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people.”
  • The House has now introduced its own, $17.6 billion standalone bill for aid to Israel; this is likely to set up a clash between the two chambers. 
  • Jewish Federations support passing emergency funding for Israel as quickly as possible. Last week, 400 Federation leaders met with dozens of Members of Congress on Capitol Hill, urging them to hasten the passage of this lifesaving aid.
  • US special envoy Amos Hochstein was in Israel over the weekend for talks with Israeli leaders on an emerging framework to push Hezbollah back from Israel’s northern border. According to unconfirmed media reports, Hochstein has conveyed signs of a possible diplomatic solution that would lead to Hezbollah's moving back from the border. Meanwhile, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant continued to warn Hezbollah that Israel has considerable capabilities to strike the Lebanese terror group that have not yet been used.

Stories Of Heartbreak, Heroism and Hope

 

  • War diary: An IDF reservist reflects on his company’s 100 days of war
  • In a speech at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last night, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. referred to the 360 Israelis gunned down at the Nova music festival on October 7. Mason said, “Music must always be our safe space. When that’s violated, it strikes at the very core of who we are. We felt that at the Bataclan Music Hall in Paris. We felt that at the Manchester Arena in England. We felt that at the Route 91 music festival in Las Vegas. And on October 7, we felt that again when we heard the tragic news from the Supernova Music Festival for Love, that over 360 music fans lost their lives, and another 40 were kidnapped…That day and all the tragic days that have followed have been awful for the world to bear as we mourn the loss of all innocent lives.”
  • 'Emily has code words for Gaza captivity,' her father, Thomas Hand, told media. At one point, Thomas recounted, a terrorist told the then-eight-year-old Emily: “Uskut” [Arabic for be quiet] or I’ll kill you with this knife.” Read more here.

 

Further Reading

 

  • Yisrael Beteinu leader Avigdor Liberman on What should happen next.”
  • Newsweek op-ed by urban warfare expert Major John Spencer, “Israel Implemented More Measures to Prevent Civilian Casualties Than Any Other Nation in History.”
  • London-based Iranian opposition figure: 'Attack the head of the octopus' - It's time to confront Iran directly.
  • El Hassan bin Talal, member of the Jordanian royal family: A Middle East ParadoxThe Palestinian-Israeli conflict has never been more dire—or riper for resolution.
  • The Israel Democracy Institute writes about the unique role played by former Israeli Supreme Court President Justice Aharon Barak, who serves as an ad hoc judge on the ICJ panel. IDI’s Prof. Suzie Navot explains how Justice Barak’s powerful evocation of Israeli suffering against the backdrop of his history as a Holocaust survivor, along with his insistence on focusing on the horrors endured by Israelis that led to this war, affected the proceedings.
  • Opinion: Target the Iranian Regime

Jewish Federations

 

 

  • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now surpassed $775 million system-wide and has allocated more than $300 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. See a detailed update on allocations here.
  • 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, consult the  FAQs or contact Melody.Desanto@jfna.org 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.
  • 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; also see 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 Federation 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.

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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 you as the situation develops.

 

For more information, please contact: Jewish Federations of North America’s Dani Wassner dani.wassner@jewishfederations.org

Update: February 1, 2024

Jewish Federations And Partners

 

  • Jewish Federations have produced a new update that provides insight into Federations’ emergency allocations to Israel's LGBTQ community since October 7.
  • The Israel Educational Travel Alliance (IETA), a collective of over 100 Israel educational travel organizations, programs, and philanthropies housed at the Jewish Federations of North America, is spearheading a vital reimagining of Israel educational travel in response to the events of October 7. Leaders, experts, practitioners, and stakeholders will convene in Washington, DC from February 28-March 1 to reassess and revitalize the field. We welcome all professionals involved with Israel’s immersive experiences to participate. Register here. For more information about the Convening, take a look at the FAQs or contact ieta@jewishfederations.org.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

 

  • Four IDF soldiers fell in battle yesterday, bringing total IDF losses since the start of the ground operation to 227; the total since the outbreak of the war is 561. For information on the four, see here. See details of all the fallen soldiers here.
  • Heavy fighting is continuing in the largest city in the Gaza Strip's south, Khan Younis, with the IDF striking at Hamas targets engaging terrorists in combat and locating weapons. The IDF said it eliminated several Hamas terrorists in close-encounter combat in heavily built-up areas. Other units fought in the north and center of the Strip and also conducted operations in the center of Gaza City. In the past 24 hours, dozens of terrorists have been eliminated, according to the IDF.
  • Meanwhile, the IDF is continuing to fight close to the city of Rafah on the Egyptian border although, according to many reports, an IDF move into the city is not on the immediate horizon, even as Israel has made some progress in negotiations with Egypt over the issue.
  • The IDF continues to make headway at destroying Gaza's tunnels. Current estimates suggest that there are over 450 miles of tunnels under Gaza with at least 5,700 entrance shafts. The entire New York subway system is just 245 miles in total. While dozens of tunnels, and hundreds of shafts, have been destroyed (including some that the IDF has flooded, see details here), many remain operational.

Hostages

 

  • Ongoing reports suggest that a new hostage deal may be close. US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council in New York yesterday, “Hamas now has a choice to make. It can continue to dig tunnels, to plan for its next attack, to use civilians and civilian infrastructure as human shields, or Hamas can lay down its weapons and accept the proposal on the table to release every hostage."
  • According to some reports, under the first stage of an emerging agreement, Hamas would release some 40 hostages comprised of children, women, the elderly, and those with major injuries. In return, Israel would agree to a six-week ceasefire and would release thousands of Hamas terrorists from prison, including those serving time for murdering Israelis.
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with relatives of some of the hostages on Wednesday in Jerusalem, where he said, "We are making every effort. The more public this effort is, the more distant it is. The more discreet it is, the greater are its chances for success.”
  • A new military order declaring a Closed Military Zone, has stopped activists and relatives of hostages who protested for eight straight days near the Kerem Shalom border crossing with the Gaza Strip, aiming to block trucks with humanitarian aid from entering. Instead, the protestors moved to the Ashdod Port, trying to prevent ships carrying aid from entering Israel. In a statement, they said, “There is no logic in having the (aid) enter directly into the hands of Hamas terrorists… No aid should pass until the last of the hostages returns.”
  • It is believed that 136 hostages remain in Gaza. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of at least 29 of them, citing intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza and elsewhere. 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 entered the Strip of their own accord in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

 

Rockets

 

  • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains low. In the last two weeks, it has averaged just one or two per day.
  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets. Israel's Defense Ministry said today that 427 houses of northern residents have sustained structural damage by Hezbollah rockets and anti-tank missiles since October. Some 80 of the houses have experienced direct hits and thus much greater damage. Around 80,000 northern residents evacuated their homes in October under fire by Hezbollah once the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza started. See this infographic.
  • In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen.

International Response

 

  • US President Joe Biden signed an executive order Thursday that could pave the way for sanctions on Israeli vigialente violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. The State Department was expected to announce the first four targets of the order Thursday. U.S. officials said they were not targeting members of the Israeli government accused of inciting violence, and the government has in the past distanced itself from the small minority of settlers who took part in what it called vigilantism, hooliganism, or people's attempts to take the law into their own hands. The move follows a round of visa bans the U.S. began imposing in December on people involved in such acts. For more, see here.
  • President Biden also said today that he is working “day and night” to free hostages held in Gaza and bring peace to the region. “Not only do we pray for peace, but we are actively working for peace, security, dignity for the Israeli people, and the Palestinian people.”
  • Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with a delegation of ambassadors to the UN, from Malta, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Sierra Leone. “I think it's time that the international community and the UN itself understand that UNRWA's mission has to end," he said. "UNRWA is …self-perpetuating also in its desire to keep alive the Palestinian refugee issue. And we need to get other UN agencies and other aid agencies replacing UNRWA if we're going to solve the problem of Gaza as we intend to do... UNRWA is infiltrated with Hamas.” Watch the footage here.
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the UN Security Council’s recently appointed Gaza coordinator, Sigrid Kaag, on Wednesday to discuss ongoing humanitarian efforts and post-conflict reconstruction strategies in the Gaza Strip. Kaag was appointed to head the Security Council’s mission to Gaza after a resolution was passed in late December mandating that more aid enter the enclave.
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guards have removed many of their senior officers from Syria due to a spate of Israeli strikes in the country and will rely more on allied Shi'ite militia to preserve their influence there.
  • A group of 67 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in US federal court on Wednesday to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran responsible for the October 7 Massacre.

Stories Of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope

 

  • Watch this story of a Beduin family from Israel's south who are among the hostages held by Hamas.
  • Rivka Ben Horin, 74, and Yossi Gross, 75: A couple who found love again and were murdered in their homes in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7.
  • See this video of Elad, a manager at the Keter Plastics Factory returning to his job, and watch this moving video about soldiers returning home from Gaza.

 

Further Reading

 

Jewish Federations Resources

 

 

  • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now surpassed $775 million system-wide; and has allocated more than $300 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. See a detailed update on allocations here.
  • 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.
  • Last week, Jewish Federations also held a webinar on the unprecedented legal, ethical, and humanitarian challenges faced by Israel in conducting an urban war. For a recording, click here. Also, to watch the inspiring four-minute 2018 video by Koolulalm that was shared after the program, click here.
  • 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: See here for information on the latest overall numbers from the conflict.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Our Israel Office, having activated 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 you as the situation develops.



For more information, please contact: Jewish Federations of North America’s Dani Wassner at dani.wassner@jewishfederations.org

Update: January 30, 2024

The Israel Educational Travel Alliance (IETA), a collective of over 100 Israel educational travel organizations, programs, and philanthropies housed at the Jewish Federations of North America, is spearheading a vital reimagining of Israel educational travel in response to the events of October 7. Leaders, experts, practitioners, and stakeholders will convene in Washington, DC (Feb. 28-March 1) to reassess and revitalize the field. We welcome all professionals involved with Israel’s immersive experiences to participate. Register here. For more information about the Convening, take a look at the FAQs or contact ieta@jewishfederations.org.

 

Jewish Federations and Partners

 

  • Join Jewish Federations partner, JDC, tomorrow, to hear firsthand updates on their recent work in Israel and other regions in need. JDC Global Briefing - January 31 at 12 pm ETRegister here.
  • Last Friday, the International Court of Justice in the Hague declined to call on Israel to end its military operations against Hamas and called for the immediate, unconditional release of all hostages, but also said that Israel must “take steps to prevent genocide” in Gaza. To read Jewish Federations’ response to the ruling, click here, and see additional talking points hereClick here for additional information Jewish Federations has prepared on the ruling. 
  • Read this CNN story about Ukrainian teenagers who sought refuge from war in Israel at Jewish Federations’ partner World ORT’s youth village. The young people have now been caught up in the “horrors of Hamas’ attack.”
  • 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 both about this data and about the details of the allocations processes.
  • Last week, Jewish Federations also held a webinar on the unprecedented legal, ethical, and humanitarian challenges faced by Israel in conducting an urban war. For a recording, click here. Also, to watch the inspiring four-minute 2018 video by Koolulalm that was shared after the program, click here.

The Latest Numbers: Israel At War

 

  • 779 civilians were killed (five on the northern border, the rest in the Gaza region)
  • 557 Israeli soldiers killed (220 since ground operations began) – thirteen were killed in the north and the rest in and around Gaza.
  • 132 Israelis still in captivity
  • 15,500 Israelis wounded
  • 218,000 Israelis are internally displaced (138,000 of these are from the south, the rest from the north).
  • 11,000 rockets were fired at Israel (9,000 from Gaza, 2,000 from Lebanon, and around 30 from Syria. The Houthis in Yemen have launched 37 attacks, not all of them against Israel).
  • The IDF has killed around 10,000 Hamas terrorists and some 175 Hezbollah terrorists.

Hostages

 

  • Ongoing reports suggest that a new hostage deal may be close. Under the first stage of an agreement, Hamas would release some 40 hostages comprised of children, women, the elderly, and those with major injuries. In return, Israel would agree to a six-week ceasefire and would release thousands of Hamas terrorists from prison, including those serving time for murdering Israelis. For more information, click here.
  • Over the weekend, Hamas released a video showing three of the women they have kidnapped. As always, Israeli media did not broadcast the footage, to avoid playing a role in what is seen as Hamas’ psychological warfare.
  • Activists and relatives of hostages have protested for eight straight days near the Kerem Shalom border crossing with the Gaza Strip, aiming to block trucks with humanitarian aid from entering. In a statement, they said, “There is no logic in having the trucks enter directly into the hands of Hamas terrorists… No aid should pass until the last of the hostages returns.”
  • 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. Hamas has also been holding the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since 2014. Two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed are both thought to be alive after entering the Strip of their own accord in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

 

Rockets

 

  • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains low. Despite this a barrage of eleven rockets was fired yesterday at cities in Israel’s center, including Tel Aviv, causing millions of Israelis to flee to shelters, but no serious damage or injuries.
  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets.
  • In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen.

UNRWA

 

  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is a UN body that was created in 1950 to provide services to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. According to the UN, due to the “absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem,” the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed the Agency’s mandate, most recently in June of 2023. Throughout much of its existence, and particularly in recent years, UNRWA has faced serious allegations of working with terrorist groups and of falling under the influence of Hamas. In the past few days, startling and damning discoveries have been made of participation by UNRWA employees to the October 7 massacres.
  • In 2015, a report by UN Watch detailed 12 separate Facebook accounts operated by UN officials openly inciting antisemitism and terrorism. Teachers in UNRWA schools have repeatedly issued terror-supporting statements against Israel and Jews, and the curriculum taught in UNRWA schools has been exposed for glorifying terrorists and inciting murder and violence.
  • UNRWA facilities located within the Gaza Strip have often been used by Hamas for military purposes. While the Agency has openly condemned these actions, evidence has been uncovered showing that UNRWA buildings continue to be used to hide Hamas equipment.
  • In the wake of October 7, Israeli intelligence uncovered evidence of UNRWA workers who were directly involved in the attacks. The New York Times detailed the involvement of 12 employees, which included kidnapping a woman, handing out ammunition, and taking part in the Kibbutz Be’eri massacre where 97 people were brutally murdered. The employees received UNRWA salaries for their work as teachers and in social work and logistics.
  • Today the Wall Street Journal reported that that some 1,200 UNRWA employees based in Gaza have ties to Islamic terror groups.
  • In the wake of the revelations, as of writing, 17 bodies that fund the Agency’s operations have announced that they will freeze their financing, amounting to 73% of UNRWA’s total 2022 budget of $1.6 billion. These bodies include the United States, Canada, Germany, and the European Commission.
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “horrified by the accusations."
  • The US State Department also responded to the allegations, saying that the United States is “extremely troubled." They called for accountability for anyone who was involved in the massacres byh Hamas.
  • Foreign Policy Advisor to the Israeli Prime Minister Ophir Falk spoke with CNN about the abundance of evidence that UNRWA staffers were involved with the attacks; he called for “an in-depth investigation.”

 

International Response

 

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to arrive in Israel tomorrow, for his seventh visit since October 7.
  • Pramila Patten, the UN envoy for sexual violence in conflict, arrived in Israel to investigate a wave of allegations of Hamas sexual violence on October 7, and “identify avenues for support.” In a message to victims, Patten said: “Please come forward, please break your silence, because your silence will be the license of those perpetrators. My team and I, are here to listen to you in all safety and confidentiality. I’m here for a week, I’m prepared to meet you in a safe and enabling environment and to listen to your stories. The world needs to know what happened on October 7.”
  • Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan is bringing a delegation of nine ambassadors to the UN on a trip to Israel this week. The delegation will arrive later today for a tour, hosted by Erdan, of areas in southern Israel, which were attacked by Hamas on October 7. The group will also meet with released hostages, as well as with the families of those still held captive in Gaza and survivors of massacres. During their trip, the ambassadors — who are from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Liberia, Sierra Lione, Malta, and Slovenia, and other nations — will also be briefed on the latest Israeli findings regarding the allegations against UNRWA.

Stories Of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope

 

  • Watch CNN’s story of 46-year-old Omri Miran, shiatsu healer, husband to Lishay, and father to two-year-old Roni and nine-month-old Alma. He has so far spent 116 days in Hamas captivity. During this time, he has missed his wife’s birthday, Alma’s first time standing up, and Roni’s first day of school. Every night Roni asks where her father is and why he has not yet been found.
  • Kfar Aza’s first two returnees hope to forge a path of renewal.
  • Read about Sg. Maj. (res.) Reouven Chicheportiche, 38, was killed in battle against Hamas terrorists in Moshav Pri Gan on October 7, 2023. He is survived by his wife Sofia, their children, Be’er, Shaked, Eitan Chaim, and Sinai, as well as his parents and five siblings. He was born in France and in 1992 made aliya as a child with his family.

 

Further Reading

 

Jewish Federations

 

 

  • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now surpassed $775 million system-wide; and has allocated more than $300 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. See a detailed update on allocations here.
  • 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 andThursday 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.

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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.



For more information, please contact: Jewish Federations’ Dani Wassner dani.wassner@jewishfederations.org

Update: January 25, 2024

Jewish Federations

 

  • Jewish Federations have produced a new backgrounder that details our emergency allocations in the area of Young Children.

 

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.”

Rockets

 

  • 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.

 

Hostages

 

  • 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.

Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope

 

  • “No one recognized me,’ Fauda actor Idan Amedi said as he was released from hospital following the severe injuries he sustained in Gaza.
  • “It could have been us.” Jon Polin and Rachel Goldberg fight for the release of their son Hersh, who was badly injured before being taken hostage by Hamas on October 7. Watch here.
  • Noa Farage, 22: Surfer who was ‘the most magical person’

 

Further Reading

 

Jewish Federations

 

  • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now surpassed $775 million system-wide; and has allocated more than $300 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. See a detailed update on allocations here.
  • As reported in eJP, Jewish Federations have launched a new fund to help small business owners affected by the war in Gaza.
  • 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 both 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. 
  • See these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • Volunteers
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • 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 the country’s diverse society will speak every Sunday to 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.

Our Israel Office, having activated 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.

Update: January 22, 2024

Jewish Federations



  • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now surpassed $775 million system-wide; we have allocated more than $300 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. See a detailed update on allocations here.
  • Jewish Federations joined other major Jewish organizations in speaking out forcefully against the groundless charges of genocide leveled against Israel by South Africa at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. See this blog post for details, including the letter that was sent to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
  • Learn more about the insidious myths around the legality of Israel’s war by watching a Jewish Federations’ webinar on Wednesday, January 24 at 1 pm ET with Major John Spencer and expert in the law of armed conflict Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey S. Corn, who have nearly five decades of combined military experience.

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. 

Rockets

 

  • 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.

 

Hostages

 

  • 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

 

 

Further Reading

 

Jewish Federations’ Resources

 

  • As reported last week in eJP, Jewish Federations have launched a new fund to help small business owners affected by the war in Gaza.
  • 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. 
  • See these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • Volunteers
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • 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 the country’s diverse society will speak every Sunday to 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.

Update: January 18, 2024

Jewish Federations

  • Learn more about the insidious myths around the legality of Israel’s war on a Jewish Federations’ webinar on Wednesday, January 24 at 1 pm ET with Major John Spencer and Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey S. Corn, who have nearly five decades of combined military experience. Register here.
  • Join the Jewish Agency for Israel’s webinar with David Makovsky, (Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute) and a renowned scholar and author, exploring the future of the Middle East and Israel going forward after the October 7 attacks by Hamas and the ongoing war. Tomorrow, Friday, January 19 at 11 am ET. Register here.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

 

  • As fighting continues, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “There is only one legal response for actions like those perpetrated on the seventh of October – elimination of the organization…. I hear the rumors [about a hostage exchange deal with Hamas without full victory, but] we will continue fighting until victory. Not near, not almost, not basically - but until we smite the Hamas organization, take away all of its significant military capabilities, and remove it from power in Gaza.”
  • The IDF has reported that the Gaza tunnel network is more extensive than previously thought. Current estimates are that there are over 450 miles of tunnels under Gaza with at least 5,700 entrance shafts. Khan Younis alone has over 100 miles of underground tunnels. (For comparison, the New York subway system is just 245 miles in total).
  • In the last 24 hours of fighting in Gaza, approximately 60 terrorists were killed by the IDF. In the city of Khan Younis, troops carried out a targeted raid at the residence of a known terrorist, where soldiers battled and killed 40 terrorists; they uncovered grenades, AK-47 rifles, military equipment, and technological assets (see photos).
  • In northern Gaza, IDF forces successfully thwarted an ambush planned by two armed terrorists. A series of aerial strikes was conducted to neutralize armed terrorists, including those who were operating in close proximity to a school.

Hamas And Hezbollah

 

  • While Israel seems to have been caught by surprise by the October 7 attacks, leaders of both Hamas and Hezbollah had made their intentions clear for a long time.
  • Hamas senior official Yahya Sinwar, who is the mastermind behind the October 7 massacres, spoke openly about his plans to attack Israel at a rally in Gaza in December of 2022. He said, "We will come to you, God willing, in a roaring flood. We will come to you with endless rockets, we will come to you in a limitless flood of soldiers, we will come to you with millions of our people, like the repeating tide.”
  • Saleh al-Arouri, the most senior Hamas official eliminated in the war to date, spoke to Lebanese TV in August of 2023 saying, “A total war has become inevitable. We all consider it necessary…We are meeting with all the parties that [will take part] in this total war, and we are discussing together the different scenarios and possibilities.”
  • In an interview on a Lebanese broadcast just a few weeks after the massacres, Hamas senior official Ghazi Hamad called the existence of Israel “illogical” and vowed that Hamas would repeat the attacks until the annihilation of Israel. “The Al-Aqsa Flood is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, and a fourth,” he said.
  • In May 2021, senior Hamas official Fathi Hammad said, “The Jews are a treacherous people. There can be no peace with the Jews. There can be no peace with the Zionists. The only thing we have for the Zionists is the sword.”
  • Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has a decades-old history of supporting and advocating for terrorist attacks against Jewish and Western targets.,” If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” For over two decades he has long advocated for attacks against America. In 2002 he said, “Our hostility to the Great Satan [America] is absolute… Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: Death to America.”
  • Last month, Hezbollah official Nawaf Moussawi said, “I have a desire for ground combat that we’ll fight with the Zionist enemy… We have some weapons and can have whatever we want sent to us.”

Rockets

 

  • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains low.
  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets. Yesterday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said that the likelihood that Israel will be drawn into a war in Lebanon is growing. Halevi said that Israel was “increasing readiness for fighting in Lebanon,” even as it seeks to stabilize its northern border and allow tens of thousands of Israelis evacuated from the region to return home.
  • In the Red Sea, a rocket was fired at Eilat, presumably by the Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen, for the first time in six weeks. Sirens sounded in the city as the rocket was intercepted by Israel’s air defenses. No damage or injuries were reported.

 

Hostages

 

  • Following negotiations mediated by Qatar and France, Hamas is set to receive medicines for the Israeli hostages today. Two small planes were sent from Qatar to Egypt carrying French medicines based on a prescription list provided by the hostage families for some 45 of those being held by Hamas. The deal entails the entry of 145 types of medicine. In exchange, Hamas will receive 1,000 doses of medicine in exchange for each single dose of medicine for an Israeli hostage. It remains unclear how it will be verified that the medications actually reach the hostages, (and the International Red Cross has said that it is not part of the deal).
  • Israel’s President Isaac Herzog held up a photo of baby-hostage, Kfir Bibas, while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland yesterday. Kfir turned one year old in captivity yesterday.
  • It is believed that 132 hostages remain in Gaza. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of at least 27 of them, citing intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza and elsewhere. Hamas has also been holding the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since 2014, as well as of 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.

Israel’s New Budget

 

  • A new budget for 2024 is likely to be passed in the Knesset in the coming weeks, and must be finalized by February 19. It has already been approved by the Cabinet, although minor changes are still likely.
  • The government had earlier passed a two-year budget for 2023-24, but this needed to be radically revised, due to the significant additional costs of the war and other new priorities.
  • The new budget is for approximately $155 billion, reflecting a rise of $18.5 billion in government spending.
  • It has been estimated that the war has been costing Israel around $250 million per day.
  • The significant increases in spending include:
  • repayment of debts connected to the war;
  • compensation for those impacted by the conflict,
  • higher allocations for healthcare, police, welfare, and education (as a result of the war);
  • future strengthening of the IDF;
  • $2.4 billion to support IDF reservists and their families;
  • funding for the public mental-health system;
  • money for rehabilitating the Gaza border area;
  • support for the hi-tech and real-estate sectors.
  • These increases will be funded by:
  • An increased budget deficit of 6.6% (representing some $5.3 billion)
  • Across the board cuts in the budgets of all ministries
  • Several tax hikes, including on banking profits
  • Politically, it has been difficult for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to secure the agreement of his coalition partners (as well as some of his fellow-Likud ministers) to the vast cuts needed, as many areas that are being slashed are important to the constituents of some parties.

Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope

 

  • Read about Tal Maman38, a father and farmer who fought to protect his kibbutz.
  • Watch the story of 79-year-old Avraham Munder, who has been separated from his family for 103 days as he remains in Hamas captivity. A husband, father and grandfather, Avraham is described by loved ones as a modest man with a lovely voice. He works as a warehouse supervisor on Kibbutz Nir Oz and sings in a choir. His son Roi was murdered by terrorists on October 7th, and his wife Ruti, daughter Keren, and grandson Ohad were taken captive; they were later released in a hostage deal.
  • The father of the late Cpl. Adir Tahar, 19, who was killed on October 7, told media that a terrorist from Gaza decapitated his son and later tried to sell his head for $10,000. He added that “by a miracle” it was eventually found by the army and returned to Israel for burial.

 

Further Reading

 

Jewish Federations’ Resources

 

  • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now raised a total of $768 million system-wide; and has allocated nearly $283 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. See a detailed update on allocations here.
  • As reported last week in eJP, Jewish Federations have launched a new fund to help small business owners affected by the war in Gaza.
  • 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 both 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. 
  • See these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • Volunteers
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • 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 Sunday to 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

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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.

Update: January 17, 2023

Jewish Federations

  • Learn more about the insidious myths around the legality of Israel’s war with Hamas on a Jewish Federations’ webinar on Wednesday, January 24 at 1 pm ET with Major John Spencer and Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey S. Corn, who have nearly five decades of combined military experience. 
  • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Impact Package includes comprehensive data and firsthand stories on the impact of Federation dollars during this tragic and tumultuous time.
  • Read Jewish Federations of North America’s President and CEO Eric Fingerhut’s op-ed in the Times of Israel here.
  • As reported last week in eJP, Jewish Federations have launched a new fund to help small business owners affected by the war in Gaza.
  • 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.
  • Join the Jewish Agency for Israel’s webinar with David Makovsky, (Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute) and a renowned scholar and author, exploring the future of the Middle East and Israel going forward after the October 7 attacks by Hamas and the ongoing war: Friday, January 19 at 11 am ET. Register here.

The Latest

 

  • As fighting continues, additional IDF soldiers have been killed, bringing the total to 190 since the ground invasion began, and 524 since October 7. See details of all the fallen soldiers here.
  • terror attack was carried out by two Palestinians in Ra’anana yesterday. A 72-year-old Israeli woman was stabbed to death and 17 others were wounded, several of whom remain in serious condition. The two terrorists, cousins from Hebron, were both apprehended. During the attack, victims were stabbed, their cars stolen, and the vehicles were then used to run down multiple pedestrians.
  • Israel's Finance Ministry has estimated that the war is costing the Israeli economy around $270 million per week. Between October - December, 46,000 workers were either fired or put on leave in Israel. About 760,000 workers (18% of the workforce) were unable to work due to: military reserve duty, displacement from their homes, or because they are single parents.

100 Days Of War: Where Are We Now?

 

  • Most commentators have referred to three main stages of the war:
  • October 7: This happened before the first stage even began. The pre-war stage saw the terrible massacres and continued for several days as the IDF battled the terrorists inside Israeli towns and communities.
  • Stage 1: The first part of the actual war, which saw weeks of targeted bombing by the IDF aimed at destroying some of Hamas' infrastructure, weapons, and tunnels.
  • Stage 2: The ground war, in which Israeli troops entered Gaza in late October to systematically find and destroy Hamas' fighting capabilities.
  • In the first part of Stage 2, troops entered the northern half of the Strip, including Gaza City itself. This mission has largely been completed, and it is estimated that more than half of IDF troops in the area have now left the north of the Strip.
  • In the second part of Stage 2, troops are currently focusing on fighting in the central and southern parts of the Strip, especially in the cities of Khan Younis and Rafah.
  • More than 22,000 Hamas sites have been hit in the first two stages. 9,000 Hamas fighters have been killed including two of Hamas’s five brigade-level commanders; and 19 battalion-level commanders (out of a total of 24 battalions).
  • Despite those successes, Hamas’s top leadership in Gaza remains at large.
  • While fighting continues in some parts, including significant battles, from all reports, the intense battles of Stage 2 are drawing to a close and will likely be completed by the end of January.
  • Stage 3: The third stage of the war, which could well last throughout 2024, is starting to take shape. It will likely involve:
  • Lower-intensity fighting (this is already happening in the north of Gaza)
  • The release of significant numbers of Israeli reservists (this is already well underway)
  • Significant anti-insurgency efforts
  • Efforts to find Hamas' top leaders
  • Attempts to secure the remaining hostages
  • The return of Israeli evacuees in the south to their communities, including rebuilding. (This too, is already happening).
  • More than 1,300 Israelis have been killed since October 7, including 522 IDF soldiers. More than 11,000 have been injured.

What's Next for Gaza?



  • We know that intense efforts are underway to lock in a new deal. Mediation is being led by Qatar, Egypt, and the US. Many factors could go into a new deal including:
  • The return of the hostages
  • The return of bodies, from both sides
  • The release of Hamas prisoners
  • An extended cease-fire
  • Increased aid and other shipments into Gaza
  • The negotiated exile of top Hamas leaders
  • Permission by the IDF for Gazans to return to the northern half of the Strip

Rockets

 

  • Hamas rocket attacks on Israel have been reduced to a few per day as the fighting has severely restricted Hamas activities. Rockets and launchers have been found and destroyed. Nonetheless, an unusually large barrage of 50 rockets was fired at Israel’s south earlier today; the volley caused damage, but no injuries as the cities where they fell had mostly been evacuated. 
  • In the north, Hezbollah has been slowly increasing its level of rocket and other fire against Israeli targets. Fourteen Israelis have been killed by Hezbollah attacks, and 42 communities remain evacuated. The US and others continue to search for a solution that will avoid an all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah. Such an agreement could see Hezbollah forces moved away from the border region with Israel, to north of Lebanon's Litani River.
  • In the Red Sea, the United States and the United Kingdom's militaries continue to shoot down missiles and UAVs fired at Israel and commercial shipping vessels by Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen. They are also attacking Houthi bases in Yemen itself.

 

Hostages

 

  • In what Israel describes as “cruel, psychological warfare,” on Sunday, Hamas released a video depicting three hostages who call on Israel to halt its war in Gaza. The three are Noa Argamani, 26, who was seen in a video on October 7 being carried off on a motorcycle, Itay Svirsky, 38, who was kidnapped on October 7 as his parents were murdered, and Yossi Sharabi, 53. At the end of the video, a caption reads: “Tomorrow you will know which of them is alive and who is dead.” As always, Israeli media did not air the footage, but did describe the video. Yesterday, Hamas released a follow-up video where Noa Argamani announces that Itay Svirsky and Yossi Sharabi have been killed--presumably executed by Hamas. There is no independent confirmation of the killings.
  • It is believed that 132 hostages remain in Gaza. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 25 of them, citing intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza and elsewhere. Hamas has also been holding the remains 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 hearing at the International Court of Justice continues. Some background on the issues:
  • Urban warfare expert Major John Spencer has explained that combat in urban terrain is the “most complex and difficult type of warfare a military can be directed to conduct because of the unique interaction of challenges - the dense physical terrain, the presence of noncombatants, restraints on the use of force required by laws of war, and the ubiquitous and real-time global attention on the conduct of a battle.”
  • He added that this is the first war in history in which a military has faced an “underground world like this,” referring to the 300-mile-long tunnel system Hamas built for terror purposes under civilian infrastructure. He stated, “There’s no military in the world that has faced the challenge Israel is facing right now in the war against Hamas.”
  • Due to the operational challenges urban warfare poses and the intricate tunnel system, fighting in these conditions can require four times as much ammunition, or even more, than in other combat environments.
  • Hamas prevents civilian evacuations, often through gunfire. Coalition fighters faced similar challenges when fighting ISIS in the Battle of Mosul. In that battle, it is estimated that 10,000 civilians were killed. Israel is facing at least six times as many Hamas operatives as ISIS fighters.
  • Colonel Richard Kemp, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan under the British army, explained that the fight against Hamas is likely even more challenging, due to Hamas’s tactics over the past three decades turning a small strip of territory into a terror base.
  • Throughout the war, the IDF has applied tactics to minimize civilian casualty in urban warfare settings, which include dropping 6 million leaflets and issuing 14 million pre-recorded phone calls urging civilians to evacuate ahead of attacks, setting up safe corridors, and involving legal advisors in tactical decisions. Former Judge Advocate in the U.S. Air Force and international law expert Michael Schmitt explained that “The IDF has provided unprecedented warnings throughout the conflict,” which have “exceeded what the law required.”
  • On Thursday, State Department spokesman Matt Miller said, “Israel is operating in an exceptionally challenging environment in Gaza, an urban battlespace where Hamas intentionally embeds itself with and hides behind civilians.” He added “Allegations that Israel is committing genocide are unfounded. It is those who are violently attacking Israel who continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews.”

Stories Of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope



  • Israel readies for the possibility of pregnancies among female hostages raped by Hamas
  • Daniel Perez's absence felt at his brother's wedding after being taken captive.
  • Read the story of 67-year-old Orly and David Schvartzman from Kibbutz Kfar Aza. David worked as an agritech activist and investor and Orly worked as a nursing director at a clinic in the south. The two built a home that was “full of love and family,” with a backyard blooming with flowers and herbs, that was often visited by their four children and ten grandchildren. On October 7, the couple and their dog were slain by Hamas terrorists, and their home and garden were destroyed.
  • Sgt. Reem Batito, 19: Warrior who ‘fought until his last moment’
  • IDF Staff Sgt. Tomer Mizrahi fought against a large number of terrorists on October 7, along with his commander, Roy, who was injured by sniper fire, and his friend, Roni. Roni was saved by Tomer, who shielded him from gunfire. Tomer and Roni dragged their injured commander and protected him from capture. Both Roy and Tomer died in battle, but not before alerting the support team at the base, lookouts, and people of Kibbutz Sufa about the outbreak of the war, thus preventing many additional casualties. Tomer's mother, Sarit, is an academic scholar of Talmud and Law and has begun writing a weekly Dvar Torah in memory of her son; it is now being published in English as well. Click here to join a Whatsapp group to receive the publication weekly.

 

Further Reading

 

Jewish Federations’ Resources

 

  • Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now raised a total of $768 million system-wide; and has allocated nearly $283 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. See a detailed update on allocations here.
  • 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. 
  • See these additional resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • Volunteers
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • 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 the country’s diverse society will speak every Sunday to 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.

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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.



For more information, please contact: JFNA’s Dani Wassner dani.wassner@jewishfederations.org

Update: Janaury 11, 2024

See this latest resource from Jewish Federations, providing valuable insights into the emergency support offered for volunteers.

 

The Latest

 

  • As fighting continues, additional IDF soldiers have been killed, including American-Israeli Yakir Hexter from Jerusalem; bringing the total number of IDF casualties since the ground offensive began to 188, (and to 520 since October 7). See details of all the fallen soldiers here.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Operations

 

  • As fighting continues in Gaza, mainly in the southern city of Khan Younis, troops have discovered a Hamas tunnel where it believes hostages were previously held (see footage here). The tunnel connects to a wide underground network, and the military has now taken journalists from international outlets to see the evidence. The IDF says that so far in the Khan Younis area, troops have uncovered more than 300 tunnel shafts, and more than 100 tunnels have so far been destroyed or rendered inoperable.
  • IDF troops continue to find vast quantities of Hamas weapons inside schools, mosques, and private residences, including inside children's bedrooms (in this case, in a compartment of a baby's crib).
  • The IDF unit overseeing the transport of humanitarian aid into Gaza said yesterday that there are no shortages of food in the Strip and that existing problems were caused by the inability of the United Nations to properly distribute the goods once they entered the enclave.
  • Star singer and “Fauda” actor Idan Amedi, who was seriously injured this week while fighting in Gaza, sent a message to followers Wednesday, saying he was recovering. Amedi said "Thanks to all those who were concerned and sent love. Forget me, I’ll be OK. What’s important is that we stay strong together.’”
  • In the north, in response to ongoing Hezbollah rocket attacks against Israeli targets, Israel has been striking and killing the terror group's leaders. The IDF Spokesman to the Arab media said yesterday that, “Hezbollah is dragging Lebanon into an unnecessary war on behalf of Hamas. Hezbollah is looking to escalate the situation despite the damage that this will cause to Lebanese citizens in addition to the hardship they are already suffering. Hezbollah is endangering the future of the region on behalf of Hamas. Our message is clear: Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, and the entire region deserve a future of peace, progress, and prosperity and not one of death and destruction brought upon it by Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terror entities.”
  • Hezbollah:
  • Hezbollah is a Shi'ite political and militant group based in Lebanon that was founded in 1982. Its doctrine calls for the destruction of Israel, stating that Israel “is the hated enemy that must be fought until the hated ones get what they deserve.” Among its objectives is “to expel the Americans” from the Middle East.
  • The group was founded by Iran and continues to be funded and operated in very close coordination with Teheran. Hezbollah is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and many other countries.
  • Hezbollah has been described as “the world’s most heavily armed non-state actor, and as “a militia trained like an army and equipped like a state.” It is estimated that the group maintains an arsenal of between 70,000 and 150,000 missiles and rockets, including a small number of precision-guided missiles.
  • In a 2016 speech, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said, “Today Israel has its nuclear bomb. All our rockets plus the ammonia tanks in Haifa result in a nuclear bomb. In a region that populates 800,000 people, a few tens of thousands will be killed.”
  • In a recent video released by Hezbollah simulating an attack on Israelis, the group stated that “[Israel] will disappear where Palestine will remain Arab and dear to its sons.”
  • In the current conflict, the most intense recent wave of attacks occurred last Saturday with a barrage of 62 rockets fired at Israel. The group said that the attacks were in response to the elimination of senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon last week.
  • There is tremendous fear among residents of northern communities, which in many cases are even closer to the border fence than along the southern border with Gaza. The threat to the north has forced the evacuation of about 80,000 people.
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed Hezbollah this week saying, “I suggest that Hezbollah learn what Hamas has already learned in recent months: No terrorist is immune.”
  • Following the Second Lebanon War, the United Nations passed UN Resolution 1701 which called for the complete cessation by Hezbollah of any attacks on Israel, while Israel is required to cease any offensive measures against Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s actions including attacking Israeli infrastructure are a violation of the Resolution. The Resolution also demands that Hezbollah withdraw its forces over the Litani River, which it has not done.
  • Israel has retaliated by launching counter-strikes on Hezbollah targets in Syria and Lebanon. On Monday it was reported that Wissam al-Tawil, a senior commander of Hezbollah’s elite Rawdan force, was killed by a targeted IDF air strike. Tawil was one of the most senior members of Hezbollah to be eliminated since the war began. Earlier yesterday, it was reported that Hezbollah’s drone chief Ali Hussein Barji, another senior member of the terrorist group, was killed.

ROCKETS

 

  • Hamas rocket attacks on Israel have been reduced to a few per day.
  • In the north, Hezbollah has been slowly increasing its level of rocket and other fire against Israeli targets. On Tuesday, one rocket hit the headquarters of the IDF Northern Command near the city of Safed (Tzfat) causing minor damage. Hezbollah claimed that the attack was in response to targeted killings of its leaders by Israel.
  • 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. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council demanded an immediate halt to attacks by the rebels in a resolution adopted Wednesday that implicitly condemned Iran. The resolution, sponsored by the United States and Japan, was approved by a vote of 11-0 with four abstentions – Russia, China, Algeria, and Mozambique. It condemns “in the strongest terms” at least two dozen attacks carried out by the Houthis on merchant and commercial vessels, which the resolution says are impeding global commerce and undermining navigational freedom.

 

Hostages

 

  • A new Qatari proposal for a ceasefire would see the leaders of Hamas all deported and all of the hostages captured by the terrorist group released in exchange for the withdrawal of the IDF from Gaza. If such a proposal were implemented, hostages would be released in stages. Until now, Israel has said that all Hamas leaders would be killed or captured.
  • Religious and secular relatives of Gaza hostages gathered yesterday to sing, pray, and hope for the return of the hostages. A diverse mix came together for a rally in Tel Aviv, serenaded by musicians Idan Raichel and Aharon Razel, to mark the cause that has united Israelis from different worlds.
  • It is believed that 132 hostages remain in Gaza. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 25 of these 132, citing intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza and elsewhere. Hamas is also 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

 

  • White House special envoy Amos Hochstein will meet with officials in Beirut later today “to advance discussions to restore calm” along the border between Lebanon and Israel, according to a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, amid continued skirmishes between the IDF and Hezbollah.
  • As we reported earlier in the week, Israel found itself in the dock at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague — charged with genocide today.
  • South Africa, who brought the charges, presented opening arguments today, and Israel will respond tomorrow.
  • Pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protestors have gathered outside the Court.
  • The Biden Administration has reiterated its opposition to the hearing. US State Department spokesman Matt Miller said, “Allegations that Israel is committing genocide are unfounded. It is those who are violently attacking Israel who continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews. Genocide is one of the most heinous acts any entity or individual can commit, and such allegations should only be made with the greatest of care. Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas’ terrorist acts — acts that Hamas has vowed to repeat again and again until Israel is destroyed. Israel is operating in an exceptionally challenging environment in Gaza, an urban battlespace where Hamas intentionally embeds itself with and hides behind civilians.”
  • Read more about the timeline, procedures, and possible implications of the hearings here.

Stories Of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope

 

  • Presumed captive: Ohad Yahalomi, shot in the leg by terrorists.
  • The dogs from the IDF's Oketz Dog Unit were given a celebratory meal after three months of hard work in Gaza.
  • See the story of 35-year-old Uriel Baruch, husband of Rachel and father to two children, aged eight and five. He is a fan of techno music and is described by loved ones as “a beautiful soul.” He was last seen with a friend at the Nova rave on October 7. There is still no trace of Uriel, who is presumed to have been taken to Gaza by Hamas terrorists. For three months Uriel’s family has not known whether he is dead or alive.
  • Yesterday a group was traveling to the communities near the Gaza border on a solidarity mission when their bus broke down and was delayed for about 40 minutes. One of the participants visiting from Australia, suddenly received a message that her brother, an IDF lone soldier, had been released on a short break from the fighting in Gaza and was travelling on a bus coming from the opposite direction. The IDF commander and the drivers coordinated a stop, and the brother and sister saw each other again for the first time since Pesach.
  • Read about Orly and David Schvartzman, both 67: Slain in the home they loved.
  • Tal, a soldier fighting in Gaza was injured and was being evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva. On the way, he received a phone call from his wife Noy, telling him that she was in labor at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Arrangements were quickly made to evacuate Tal to Hadassa instead. He arrived just in time to witness the birth of his daughteras a patient.

 

Further Reading

 

Jewish Federations’ Resources

 

  • Jewish Federation’s Israel Emergency Campaign has now raised a total of $768 million system-wide; and has allocated over $265 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. See a detailed update on allocations here.
  • 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. 
  • See these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • Volunteers
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • 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 Sunday to Thursday from 11-11:30 am ET. No registration is required. Join here.
  • Volunteering: Read this updated Jewish Federation 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

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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 you as the situation develops.

Update: January 8, 2024

Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now raised a total of $768 million system-wide and has allocated over $283 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. See a detailed update on allocations here.

 

The Latest Numbers

As we mark three months since the October 7 Hamas attack and subsequent war, these are the latest numbers:

 

  • 1,300 Israelis have been killed. Of these:
  • At least 35 were children.
  • 509 were IDF soldiers (and of these, 177 were killed in the ground operation). See details of all the fallen soldiers here.
  • 14 were in the country’s north.
  • 11,594 Israelis have been injured.
  • An estimated 218,000 Israelis are currently internally displaced, including from 67 towns that have been officially evacuated. (Some 40 of the 67 towns have been permitted to return in the coming days).
  • Around 12,500 rockets (and other projectiles) have been fired at Israel since October 7. Of these:
  • About 10,500 were fired by Hamas and other terrorist groups from Gaza
  • 14 by the Houthi rebels in Yemen
  • 2,000 by Hezbollah from Lebanon and Syria.
  • Thousands of rockets were fired by Hamas on October 7, and hundreds of rockets per day in the weeks that followed. By the week of December 1-7, as IDF ground operations restricted Hamas’ capabilities, the terror group still managed to fire 75 rockets per day, but by December 8-14, the number had dropped to 23. From December 15-27, the average number of rockets dropped to 16 and is now below 10.
  • There are 130 hostages in Gaza, but at least 25 of these are believed to be no longer alive (that number could be much higher). 109 hostages have been released; and the IDF has rescued one hostage, recovered eight bodies, and accidentally killed three hostages.

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.

Rockets

 

  • 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.

 

Hostages



  • 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 of 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.

 

Further Reading



Jewish Federations’ Resources

 

  • 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. 
  • See these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • 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 the country’s diverse society will speak every Sunday to 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.

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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 you as the situation develops.

Update: January 2, 2024

The Latest



  • As fighting continues, more IDF soldiers have been killed, bringing the total number of IDF casualties since the ground offensive began to 173, (and to 505 since October 7). Yesterday, American-Israeli Sgt.- Maj (Res) Amichai Oster was slain in battle. He was the son of Dr. Howard Oster, deputy director of the Internal Medicine Division at Sourasky Medical Center, and Marcy Oster, a well-known journalist. The family had made Aliyah from Cleveland, Ohio. See details of all the fallen soldiers here.
  • As fighting in Gaza continues, an Israeli delegation is currently in Egypt, discussing a potential new hostage deal.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Operations

 

  • Yesterday, the IDF captured a Hamas stronghold using special forces who battled terrorists inside tunnel networks beneath the site. Hamas’s “Eastern Outpost” is made up of 37 buildings in the middle of a civilian population, surrounded by residential buildings, a school, and a hospital; there is also a mosque in the complex which is used as a meeting point for Hamas operatives. The stronghold (see infographic here), including a 65-foot deep command bunker (see video), was used by Hamas’s intelligence division and other units to manage the fighting in the entire Gaza Strip.
  • Two terrorists - one Hamas and one Islamic Jihad - revealed how Hamas exploits civilians and civilian areas in Gaza. Zohadi Ali Zahadi Shahin - a Hamas operative in its Shati Battalion admitted that Hamas stopped Gazans who tried to move southwards to escape the fighting and transferred them to the Shifa Hospital to be used as human shields (see footage). Muhammad Darwish Amara, an Islamic Jihad operative from the group's Gaza Brigade, admitted that - despite his objections - a Hamas operative planted a bomb in his apartment where his children were staying (see footage).
  • Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said today that while fighting remains intense in the southern Gaza Strip, “only a few thousand” terrorists are left in the north.
  • Nonetheless, it is being widely reported that within two or three weeks, Israel will move into Stage 3 of the war, which will entail lower-intensity fighting. The IDF says it has already begun releasing some five brigades from reserve duty. With more and more soldiers being sent home, Israeli universities resumed studies, belatedly beginning the new academic year.
  • Similarly, residents of several towns near the Gaza border have been told they can return to their homes. See more here.
  • The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip says that more than 22,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since the start of Israel’s war with Hamas.
  • Israel continues to allow humanitarian aid for the Gazan population:
  • In late December, Israel opened a second border crossing, Kerem Shalom, to allow for more aid to be transferred. Until then, all aid had arrived through the Rafah crossing via Egypt.
  • According to the latest data released by Israel’s  COGAT Authority, (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) over 104,000 tons of aid and more than 5,800 trucks have now been transferred into Gaza.  On December 25th, over 200 trucks carrying aid were inspected and crossed into Gaza. Every day, containers of diesel fuel and cooking gas are delivered to UN agencies from Egypt. 
  • Earlier this week, COGAT facilitated the delivery of 80,000 vaccines that were donated by UNICEF. 
  • These efforts are ongoing with trucks accessing the Gaza Strip every day under IDF supervision, despite documented efforts by Hamas to sabotage those efforts, steal supplies before they can reach their intended targets, and hide in ambulances and humanitarian convoys. 
  • In public comments made on Sunday, President Isaac Herzog alleged that the United Nations has been a major obstacle to the delivery of humanitarian aid.
  • Only 10% of drinking water typically used within Gaza is provided by Israel whereas the rest is locally sourced.  Yet throughout the war, COGAT opened two water lines from Israel into Gaza providing water to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian residents in the southern part of the strip, with 28.5m liters being delivered each day. These pipes have been destroyed by Hamas on several occasions and Israel has overseen their repair.
  • On Friday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that called for increased aid to Gaza. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield praised the resolution but abstained from voting in favor of it. She asked, “Why is it so hard to condemn Hamas for slaughtering young people at a concert, for butchering families alive, for the reports of widespread sexual violence? I will never understand why some council members have remained silent in the face of such evil.”
  • The Lieber Institute of Law & Land Warfare at West Point published a review of Israel’s commitment to protecting civilians and providing humanitarian aid. They argued that Israel's actions are legitimate given the nature of combat and the obstacles that Hamas puts forth that endanger civilians. 

 

Rockets

 

  • Hamas rocket attacks on Israel have been further reduced, although one large barrage was fired at exactly midnight on New Year’s Eve. As the IDF has made significant gains in Gaza, the level of rocket fire has been steadily dropping. Thousands of rockets were fired on October 7, and hundreds of rockets per day in the weeks that followed. By the week of December 1-7, Hamas still managed to fire 75 rockets per day, but by December 8-14, the number had dropped to 23. From December 15-27, the average number of rockets dropped to 16 and is now under 10.
  • In the north, the opposite phenomenon is taking place; Hezbollah seems to be slowly increasing its level of rocket and other fire against Israeli targets. Earlier today, two anti-tank missiles fell in the town of Shlomi. One missile exploded near a high-rise building and caused minor property damage.
  • 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.

 

Hostages

 

  • It is believed that 129 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

 

  • The US aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, which wss deployed to the eastern Mediterranean after October 7th, will return to the United States “in the coming days,” the US Navy announced. Sent to “contribute to our regional deterrence and defense posture,” the carrier will “redeploy to its home port as scheduled to prepare for future deployments.”
  • Foreign Affairs Magazine: How Israel could lose America.

 

Stories Of Heartbreak, Heroism And Hope

 

  • Adi Margalit, 24: Architecture student who ‘danced until her final day’
  • The full extent of Hamas's sex crimes on October 7 may never be known
  • Sgt. Ido Binenstock, 19: Died on the battlefield trying to save friends

 

Further Reading

Jewish Federations’ Resources

 

  • Jewish Federations have now raised a total of more than $762 million system-wide and allocated over $265 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. Click here for our latest allocations update.
  • 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 seeks 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. 
  • See these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • 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 the country’s diverse society will speak every Sunday to 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.

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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 you as the situation develops.

Update: December 27, 2023

THE LATEST

 

  • As fighting continues, more IDF soldiers have been killed, bringing the total number of IDF casualties since the ground offensive began to 164, (and to 496 since October 7). See details of all the fallen soldiers here. One of those killed yesterday was Cpt. (Res.) Shaul Greenglick, 26, of Ra’anana. When Greenglick was home on a break from reserve duty three weeks ago, he appeared in uniform on an episode of the reality TV singing competition “The Next Star.” The judges praised him as having “a natural talent with an amazing voice.”
  • Reports continue that talks are taking place over a possible deal for the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners and a two to three-week ceasefire. According to some news outlets, Hamas would return 40 hostages it is holding.
  • Israelis are beginning to discuss the failures that led to October 7. State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman announced that in the coming months his office will examine the “multi-system failures" that occurred. He promised that “no stone will be left unturned” in examining “personal responsibility” for the “failures on all levels – policy, military and civilian.”

 

ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (IDF) OPERATIONS

 

  • 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.

ROCKETS

 

  • 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.

 

HOSTAGES

 

  • 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.

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

 

  • 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.

 

STORIES OF HEARTBREAK, HEROISM AND HOPE

 

  • 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.

FURTHER READING

 

 

JEWISH FEDERATIONS’ RESOURCES

 

Jewish Federations have now raised a total of more than $762 million system-wide and allocated over $265 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. Click here​ for our latest allocations update and see these resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into specific areas of our allocations: WomenPastoral GuidanceBedouin CommunitiesFood Securityand People with Disabilities.

 

  • The 10/7 Project is a new collaboration among Jewish Federations, 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 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 Sunday to 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: Have 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.

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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.



For more information, please contact: JFNA’s Dani Wassner dani.wassner@jewishfederations.org

Update: December 20, 2023

The Latest

 

  • As fighting continues, additional IDF soldiers have been killed, bringing the total number of IDF casualties since the ground offensive began to 134, (and to 466 since October 7). See details of all the fallen soldiers here.
  • Multiple, unconfirmed reports have emerged that “intensive” talks are taking place in Egypt over a possible deal for the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has arrived in Cairo to take part. According to some news outlets, Hamas would return 40 hostages it is holding, in exchange for hundreds of Hamas prisoners (including some accused of serious offenses) as well as a week-long ceasefire. At the moment, Hamas is demanding a ceasefire while a deal is negotiated, but Israel says that any ceasefire will only begin once a deal is in place.

 

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Operations

 

  • The IDF carried out strikes against more than 300 targets in the Gaza Strip over the past day. Some of the strikes were directed by ground forces against Hamas operatives amid battles.
  • The IDF is also slowly announcing that it has largely completed its operations in certain areas. Today, the military said that it has concluded the full conquest of the Jabaliya neighborhood in Gaza. See the footage here.
  • Earlier today, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israel would bring senior leaders of Hamas “to the place they deserve - either the cemetery or prison.” According to Israel’s TV Channel 13, IDF troops have twice managed to reach tunnels in Gaza in recent days where they believe Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar was hiding just before they arrived. The report said that the IDF has primarily focused its activities in and around the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis to achieve its goal of assassinating Sinwar.
  • The director of Gaza’s Kamal Adwan hospital in Gaza has revealed in a Shin Bet interrogation that his hospital was turned into a military facility under Hamas’s control and that at one point, it had housed a kidnapped soldier. In this footage, hospital director Ahmed Kahlot can be seen telling authorities that Hamas had offices inside the hospital and used it as a base for operational activity. According to Kahlot, who said he had been a lieutenant colonel in Hamas since 2010, some 16 members of the hospital’s staff — including doctors, nurses, and paramedics — were Hamas operatives serving in the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the terror organization.
  • See this Jewish Federation backgrounder: Does the IDF target civilians?

Rockets

 

  • Hamas rocket attacks on Israel have been reduced to a sporadic level. Nonetheless, yesterday, four rockets were launched at Israel’s center, including Tel Aviv. One rocket fell into the sea, while Iron Dome successfully intercepted the other three. Millions of citizens were forced to take shelter. The rockets were launched from within the Moassi area of the Gaza Strip, designated as a safe zone by Israel and populated by displaced Palestinians.
  • In the north, Hezbollah seems to have slowly increased its level of rocket and other fire against Israeli targets. Yesterday, rockets hit a home in Kiryat Shmone causing damage, but no injuries (as most of the city’s population has been evacuated).
  • In the Red Sea, Israel and the United States military continue to shoot down missiles fired at commercial shipping vessels, by Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen.

 

Hostages

 

  • Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have released videos depicting a total of five of the hostages being held, mainly elderly men. Israel describes the videos as “psychological warfare,” and media outlets have agreed not to screen the footage. While families of the captives were highly distressed by the scenes – which depict the men in poor health – all said they were relieved to know that their loved ones were still alive.
  • It is believed that 128 hostages remain in Gaza, following the earlier truce deal that freed 105. Four hostages were released before 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. The military has also confirmed the deaths of 21 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza. This likely leaves just over 100 living hostages, among them, 8 US citizens.

International Response

 

  • The Washington Post reports that US President Joe Biden wants Israel to move to a less intense stage of battle soon, “ideally” by the end of this calendar year in just under two weeks, despite US insistence that it is not putting a timetable on Israel’s military campaign. According to the newspaper, a 20-page document drawn up by the State Department lays out options for a post-war Gaza, increasingly managed by Palestinians.
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has watched the IDF’s 47-minute film of Hamas atrocities. Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said that Guterres called it “humanity at its worst.” He added, “Now we will see if (Guterres’) public statements change and if he truly understands Israel’s mission to eradicate this evil from the face of the earth and bring home the hostages. If the UN held to its founding principles, we would have heard this on the first day of the war.”
  • American Jewish comedian Jerry Seinfeld visited the Gaza border community of Kibbutz Be’eri on Tuesday during a wartime solidarity trip to Israel. Along with his wife Jessica Sklar, Seinfeld met with Yuval Haran, whose father Avshalom was murdered on October 7. Seinfeld was reported to have expressed his admiration for the residents’ resilience and told them that he was “proud to be an ambassador for spreading the truth throughout the world.” See the photo here.

Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism And Hope

 

  • See the tales of first responders from October 7.
  • Watch this story of Lt. Col. Alim Abdullah, a 40-year-old company commander and father of 3 from a Druze village, who was killed by gunfire during the first days of the war when he responded to an infiltration of terrorists into northern Israel.
  • Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan has created a fully functional treatment center for children in a secure underground facility. Watch here.
  • Israelis of all ages have volunteered for IDF reserve duty, even when no longer obligated to do so. See this photo of reserve soldiers Martin Holt 87 years old (right), Ezra Yachin 95 years old (in the center), and Nacha Gilboa 85 years old (left). Yachin has fought in every war since 1948.

 

Further Reading

 

 

New Resources from The IDF

 

Jewish Federations’ Resources

 

  • Jewish Federations have now raised a total of more than $762 million system-wide and allocated over $265 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. Click here for our latest allocations update.
  • Jewish Federations’, 10/7 Project is a new 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.
  • Resource Hub: 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. 
  • See these newly produced resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • 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 the country’s diverse society will speak every Sunday to 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

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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.

Update: December 18, 2023

Upcoming

 

  • Join a webinar on December 20, 2023, at 11 am ET to hear some of the stories of Israeli victims and survivors who have recently received aid from the Jewish Agency’s Fund for Victims of Terror, which has distributed over 6,300 grants since October 7. Register here.
  • Please join the Jewish Federation's JEDI team and Hadassah Foundation for a conversation on how Israeli women's organizations are partnering to meet the immediate needs of women and girls and to advocate for their rights. We will also hear from members of Israel's Civil Commission of Oct. 7. The War's Impact on Women in Israel. Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 19, 1 pm ET. Register here.

 

The Latest

 

  • As fighting continues, additional IDF soldiers have been killed, bringing the total number of IDF casualties since the ground offensive began to 127, (and to 459 since October 7). See details of all the fallen soldiers here. More than 1,800 soldiers have been wounded, and 38 remain hospitalized in serious condition.
  • Nearly 70% of Iran’s gas stations went out of service following a likely cyberattack. An Israeli hacker group claimed responsibility. It was also announced today that an attempt by Iranian figures to hack into Ziv Hospital in northern Israel was recently thwarted.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Operations

 

  • Earlier today, IDF troops seized some $1.5 million in cash in suitcases found in the home of a senior Hamas member in northern Gaza (see photos).
  • During activity in Jabalya, the IDF located an operational tunnel shaft inside a children's room in the basement of a building. This shaft included built-in stairs and was destroyed by the brigade's engineering forces.
  • The IDF also carried out strikes against more than 150 sites in the Gaza Strip over the past day. In the Khan Younis area, an IAF drone spotted a Hamas cell entering a site belonging to the terror group. Troops of the Givati Brigade then directed a combat helicopter to strike the cell.
  • The IDF also revealed the largest-ever Hamas attack tunnel (see animated infographic) discovered by the military, in northern Gaza, close to the Erez border crossing with Israel (see map). The tunnel, of which around 2.5 miles were uncovered by the IDF, is located some 165 feet underground in some areas and appears to be wide enough for vehicles to pass through. Watch this Hamas video of the tunnel’s construction.
  • Over the weekend, IDF forces prevented an intricate assault prepared by Hamas. The ambush included booby-trapped children’s stuffed toys and piles of children’s clothing designed to lure soldiers into believing that Israeli children had been held hostage at that location. Hamas placed a blue-tooth speaker near the toys and played dialog in Hebrew through the speaker to convince the IDF that there were hostages nearby.
  • See also this Jewish Federation backgrounder: Does the IDF target civilians?

Rockets

 

  • Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remain far lower than earlier in the war but continue to strike Israeli cities on an almost daily basis. Most rockets are intercepted by Iron Dome, but even in these cases, fragments sometimes fall causing considerable damage. See this intercepted rocket that landed in an Ashdod supermarket yesterday.
  • In the north, Hezbollah seems to have increased its level of rocket and other fire against Israeli targets. In response, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “If Hezbollah wants to go up a level, we’ll go up five….We don’t want that, we don’t want to get into a war situation. We want to restore peace and we will do it either through an agreement or with forceful action, with all its implications. We don’t want war, but we won’t hold it off for too long.”
  • In the Red Sea, Israel and the United States military continue to shoot down missiles fired at commercial shipping vessels, by Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen. Israel’s President Isaac Herzog said that the Houthis have crossed a red line.

 

Hostages

 

  • In a tragic development, three hostages were mistakenly shot and killed by IDF troops who believed they were Hamas terrorists. See more here.
  • There are ongoing reports of a potential renewed hostage deal with Hamas. Sources say that Hamas is insisting on being able to choose those Palestinian prisoners to be released, including those who have murdered Israelis. Hamas had also proposed to release the bodies of hostages it said were killed during captivity.
  • Possibly as a first step towards a deal, and in preparation for increased aid to the Strip, Israel has reopened the Kerem Shalom Crossing to enable commercial quantities of goods to enter Gaza. However, videos circulating on social media showed Hamas gunmen stealing trucks delivering humanitarian aid to the Strip from Egypt.
  • It is believed that 128 hostages remain in Gaza, following the earlier truce deal that freed 105. Four hostages were released before 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. The military has also confirmed the deaths of 21 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza. This likely leaves some 104 living hostages.

International Response

 

  • US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin together with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. CQ Brown, arrived in Israel earlier today. Some media reports say that Austin will announce a new maritime protection force during his visit, after repeated attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on commercial ships traversing the Red Sea.
  • As the Yemenite Houthis continue to raise the level of their threats towards all ships traveling to and from Israel, the US Navy today began to redeploy the USS Eisenhower Carrier group from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden, near the Yemeni coast. It has been reported that this redeployment is a signal that the US may intervene and counterattack the Houthis shortly.

Stories Of Heartbreak, Heroism And Hope

 

  • Watch JDC’s videos:
  • Tzipy’s Story,” is about living with a disability during war times.
  • “Our souls were shattered: Sapir’s story.
  • A new opinion poll about the ultra-Orthodox public in Israel shows the group seems to be moving closer to mainstream Israeli society since October 7. Among the findings:
  • 73% of the Haredi community feels a stronger sense of shared destiny with Israeli society due to the recent war.
  • 75% expressed a deep connection to the “Israeli narrative.”
  • 32% supported increased involvement of their community in Israeli society.
  • 29% favor haredi enlistment (compared to 9% before October 7). And 70% said those not studying Torah should serve in the IDF or alternative national service.
  • Remarkably, when asked about their trust in institutions, Haredim said they trusted:
  • The IDF – 59%
  • Political parties (including haredi parties) – 58%
  • Local authorities – 48%
  • The Police – 42%
  • Government – 34%
  • Justice system – 8%

 

Further Reading

Jewish Federations’ Resources

 

  • Read background on the Hamas terror group here.
  • Jewish Federations of North America’s president and CEO Eric Fingerhut gave a stirring and timely speech last week to civic leaders at the Cleveland Club about the war in Israel and the need for all people of good faith to confront the dramatic spike in antisemitism that has arisen since October 7. To read the text of the speech, or to watch it on video, click on this post.
  • Jewish Federations’, 10/7 Project is a new 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.
  • Resource Hub: 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. 
  • See these newly produced resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities
  • Details: For information on the latest overall numbers from the conflict, see here.
  • Overall, Jewish Federations have now raised over $762 million for emergency assistance and more than $265 million has been allocated. For more details, click 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 Sunday to Thursday from 11-11:30 am ET. No registration is required. Join here.
  • Volunteering: Read this updated Jewish Federation 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
  • MapThis site shows a map of the October 7 massacre with a red dot for every person killed and a black dot for every person abducted by Hamas. Clicking on any dot will show the name and picture (if available) of the victim with age and last known location.
  • Funders: As many funders struggle to distinguish between the multitudes of organizations looking for important resources, the Jewish Funders Network has produced this thorough page of guidance.
  • Previous updates can be found here.

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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 you as the situation develops.

Update: December 14, 2023

Please join Jewish Federation's JEDI team and Hadassah Foundation for a conversation on how Israeli women's organizations are partnering to meet immediate needs for women and girls and to advocate for their rights. We will also hear from members of Israel's Civil Commission of Oct. 7. The War's Impact on Women in Israel. Tuesday, December 19, 1pm ET. Register here.

 

THE LATEST

 

As fighting continues, additional IDF soldiers have been killed, bringing the total number of IDF casualties since the ground offensive began to 116, (and to 442 since October 7). Among those who fell yesterday was American-Israeli Elisha Loewernstern, a young father of six (and a friend and neighbor of this writer). May his memory (and those of all the fallen), be for a blessing. See details of all the fallen soldiers here.

 

ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (IDF) OPERATIONS

  • Fierce fighting continues in both northern and southern Gaza. See this summary and statement in English about the latest fighting, by an IDF spokesperson.
  •  Earlier today, IDF troops operated in the Kamal Adwan Hospital area with the Shin Bet, and dozens of Hamas terrorists were killed or detained. During the operation, the IDF troops located a building close to the hospital that was being used by Hamas terrorists. An exchange of fire took place, in which a number of Hamas terrorists were killed. Some 70 terrorists surrendered and left the building with their weapons and were detained and taken for interrogation by the Shin Bet.
  • According to one report, the IDF has started pumping seawater into Hamas’s underground tunnel system in Gaza, a move aimed at destroying the Palestinian terror group’s subterranean network of passages and hideaways and driving its operatives above ground. Read more.
  • The military has placed a bounty on Hamas leaders, with fliers dropped in Gaza offering money for information on the whereabouts of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and other commanders in the terror group. The pamphlet promises Gazans $400,000 for information on Hamas’s Gaza leader Sinwar; $300,000 for information on his brother, Muhammed Sinwar, who commands the terror group’s southern brigade; $200,000 for information on Rafaa Salameh, the commander of Hamas’s Khan Younis battalion; and $100,000 for information on Mohammed Deif, the commander of the military wing.
  • Funerals were held Wednesday in Israel for troops killed in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood the previous day, in an ambush using remotely detonated explosive devices. Nine IDF soldiers were killed, including a Battalion Commander from the Golani Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Tomer Grinberg (35), and two of his Company Commanders. When the explosive device was detonated, the force was split and rescue forces from the Air Force Search and Rescue Unit arrived on the scene. Hamas terrorists then ambushed the rescue forces, killing a Company Commander and a soldier from the unit. The battle in Shejaiya was one of the most deadly encounters since the beginning of the Israeli ground incursion.

 

ROCKETS

  • Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remain far lower than earlier in the war, but continue to strike Israeli cities on an almost daily basis. Most rockets are intercepted by Iron Dome, but even in these cases, fragments sometimes fall causing considerable damage. See this intercepted rocket that landed in an Ashdod supermarket yesterday.
  • In the north, Hezbollah also continues its medium-level of rocket and other fire against Israeli targets.
  • In the Red Sea, Israel and the United States military continue to shoot down missiles fired at commercial shipping vessels, by Iran-back Houthi rebels in Yemen.
  • Israel’s President Isaac Herzog said that the Houthis have crossed a red line.
  • Watch this footage of the Iron Dome operating to intercept incoming Hamas rockets and protect Israeli civilian targets.

 

HOSTAGES

  • The IDF announced on Tuesday that it had recovered the bodies of civilian Eden Zacharia and IDF Warrant Officer Ziv Dado, who were taken hostage by Hamas on October 7.
  • Some Israeli media is reporting that there are initial, informal negotiations over a potential renewed hostage deal with Hamas. Sources say Qatar and Egypt are holding informal, initial talks between Israel and Hamas to formulate an outline for a new deal.
  •  It is believed that 135 hostages remain in Gaza, at least 20 of whom are dead. The bodies of five hostages have also been recovered.

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE



  • US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has arrived in Israel for another round of talks with the country’s military and political leadership. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told Sullivan that the war against Hamas in Gaza will take “more than several months.”
  • Meanwhile, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby suggested Wednesday that some of the steps the Israeli military has taken to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza might go further than what the US would have done if it were in Israel’s place.
  • A survey among Palestinians published yesterday shows a rise in support for Hamas, and a rejection of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, with nearly 90% saying he must resign. The polls shows 57% of respondents in Gaza and 82% in the West Bank believe Hamas was correct in launching its October 7 attack. Only 10% say they believed Hamas has committed war crimes.

STORIES OF HEARTBREAK, HEROISM AND HOPE

 

Watch these inspiring videos from Jewish Federations:

 

 

JDC story: The Strongest People You’ll Ever Meet: During War, Living With a Disability in Israel

 

The October 7 massacres have spurred a massive Torah scroll writing project: Thousands of Israeli Jews, including President Isaac Herzog, have filled in letters on parchment to commemorate the 1,200 dead; and raise awareness for the 138 hostages still in captivity.

 

A study conducted by Goshen, an organization promoting community child health and wellbeing, as well as the Israeli Pediatric Association, indicates that 84% of Israeli children overall are suffering from emotional distress. Forty percent of parents are also feeling stressed and anxious, but only 14% of parents have sought help for their or their children’s mental health.

FURTHER READING

 

  • Jordan navigates delicately amid Israel-Hamas war
  • How are Houthi seizures in the vital Red Sea shipping lane impacting global trade?
  • Former Member of Knesset: Why is Israel unable to explain the war in Gaza to the world?

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Jewish Federations’, 10/7 Project is a new 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.
  • See these newly produced resources by Jewish Federations that give insight into some areas of Federations’ emergency allocations:
  • Women
  • Pastoral Guidance
  • Bedouin Communities
  • Food Security
  • People with Disabilities

 

Details: For information on the latest overall numbers from the conflict, see here.

 

  • Overall, Jewish Federations have now raised over $711 million for emergency assistance and more than $211 million has been allocated. For more details, click 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 Sunday to 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.
  • Map: This site shows a map of the October 7 massacre with a red dot for every person killed and a black dot for every person abducted by Hamas. Clicking on any dot will show the name and picture (if available) of the victim with age and last known location.
  • Read the latest dispatch from the Community Mobilization Center here.
  • Funders: As many funders struggle to distinguish between the multitudes of organizations looking for important resources, the Jewish Funders Network has produced this thorough page of guidance.
  • Previous updates can be found here.

 

Jewish Federations

Our Israel Office, having activated 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 you as the situation develops.

 

For more information, please contact: JFNA’s Dani Wassner at dani.wassner@jewishfederations.org

Update: December 11, 2023

New Resources

 

 

The Latest

  • As fighting continues, seven more soldiers have been killed, bringing the total number of IDF casualties since the ground offensive began to 104 (and 433 since October 7). See details of all the fallen soldiers here.
  • The IDF says it has killed 7,000 Hamas members or allied terrorists since fighting began. More than 22,000 targets in the Gaza Strip have been struck since the beginning of the war, 3,500 of them since the end of the ceasefire. See this infographic video of eliminated senior commanders.
  • Cypriot law enforcement agencies, in cooperation with the Mossad, have thwarted an Iranian cell that planned to carry out attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets in Cyprus. Cypriot security services have arrested the attackers, and considerable information was obtained about the cell’s operations, the targets of the attack, and Iranian plans to kill innocents in Cyprus and elsewhere.
  • The Israeli Government has approved a $5 billion multi-year plan to rehabilitate and develop the region around the Gaza Strip. The approved outline aims to ensure “the safe and lasting renewal and development of the region with significant demographic growth, which constitutes a prosperous and attractive focus and magnet for economic resilience, quality education, investments, and advanced and innovative agriculture.” A new authority has been set up to implement the plan, known as “Tekuma.”
  • The Israeli government has also set up a small team of top officials and representatives from the defense establishment to discuss post-war plans for Gaza. The team, which has met four times already, is reportedly led by National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and includes representatives from the Israel Defense Forces, the Mossad, and the Shin Bet, and Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog.
  • Israeli universities will officially begin the academic school year on December 31, following a two-month delay amid the IDF's war in Gaza (where some 30% of university students have been called to reserve duty).

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Operations

 

  • Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Hamas terrorists to surrender to Israeli troops, urging them not to sacrifice their lives for the terror group’s chief in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. The comments followed remarks by Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi that there were signs that Hamas was collapsing, and as several images and videos circulated over the past week of dozens of men, many of them Hamas operatives, surrendering and being detained by Israeli troops inside Gaza.
  • Intense fighting continues across Gaza. The IDF says it almost has complete control over the northern part of the Strip, and is consolidating its gains over the major city of Khan Younis in the south. See footage of the latest fighting here.
  • Since fighting began, 1,593 soldiers have been wounded, 255 of whom suffered severe injuries. Watch this video of a wounded soldier being evacuated by helicopter.
  • Hamas continues to launch missile and rocket fire toward Israel from southern Gaza, including from humanitarian zones. The IDF released satellite photos showing the proximity between UN facilities and these launch sites.
  • The IDF is releasing directions in Arabic for safe passage within the battle zones and has deployed high-tech mapping software to reduce noncombatant deaths. It has reiterated that “the people of Gaza are not our enemies."
  • These efforts were recognized by US National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby, who said “It’s not the Israel Defense Forces’ strategy to kill innocent people. It’s happening, I admit that, and each one’s a tragedy,” while Hamas “is deliberately hiding themselves in residential buildings, in hospitals, [and] in tunnels.” He emphasized that Israel goes beyond what “a modern military would do to minimize civilian casualties.” 
  • US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also acknowledged Israel’s efforts to reduce civilian casualties. In an interview with CNN, he said that Hamas “intentionally embeds itself with civilians… and it’s very, very challenging for Israel to do what it needs to do to make sure this never happens again.” 
  • IDF reservists operating inside Gaza discovered a young Palestinian girl asleep inside a fortified military area on Sunday, and after determining that she was lost, cleaned her and treated wounds on her feet before transferring her to a Gazan medical team. The girl, estimated to be around four years old, took a wrong turn when walking barefoot up the Salah al-Din Road, the main highway inside the coastal enclave, and ended up in a closed military encampment belonging to the IDF Reserve’s Jerusalem Brigade in the center of the Gaza Strip. The girl lay down on a blanket and fell asleep inside the encampment, where Daniel Rosenfeld, a reservist in the Combat Engineering Corps, discovered her.
  • There are increasing signs that the Gazan population is losing patience with Hamas, and for the first time, civilians are speaking out against its leadership. Former Hamas communications minister Yousef al-Mansi (now held by Israel) heavily criticized the current leadership of the terror organization in Gaza as a group of “crazy people” led by Yahya Sinwar, in footage of his interrogation published by the Shin Bet. In the recording, al-Mansi says, “They destroyed the Gaza Strip. Set it back 200 years. There is no opportunity to live.”
  • Read: From Pause Back to Fighting: Report from the Gaza Front

Rockets

 

  • Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remain far lower than earlier in the war but continue to strike Israeli cities daily.
  • In the north, Hezbollah also continues its medium-level rocket and other fire against Israeli targets. It says that the total toll of its members killed since the beginning of the war is 100. The tally includes Hezbollah members killed by IDF strikes in southern Lebanon, in response to repeated attacks on the border, as well as several killed in Syria. Israeli defense officials estimate that this figure is higher, and Hezbollah is covering up the true number of fatalities among its ranks.

 

Hostages

 

  • It is believed that 138 hostages remain in Gaza, although in recent days the IDF has confirmed the deaths of 18 of them, due to new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.
  • A further 105 hostages were released from Hamas captivity in Gaza during the ceasefire: 81 Israelis, 23 Thai nationals, and one Filipino. In exchange, Israel released 240 Palestinian security prisoners, all women and minors. Earlier, four hostages were released, one hostage was rescued, and two bodies were recovered.
  • Yesterday, the IDF revealed that a special forces operation was conducted to try to rescue a group of hostages in Gaza following precise intelligence information, but the mission was not successful. Two soldiers were severely injured and the hostages were not rescued.
  • Former Hamas hostages Mia and Itay Regev speak out.

International Response



  • According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Israel, not the US, will decide when to end its war against Hamas in Gaza. His comments came in the wake of reports that Washington has been exerting pressure on Israel to wrap up operations by the end of the year.
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday about the war against Hamas and the situation in the region. Netanyahu expressed his dissatisfaction with the positions expressed against Israel by Russian representatives at the UN and in other forums and voiced sharp criticism of the dangerous cooperation between Russia and Iran.
  • A delegation from the European Union Parliament toured the Gaza border town of Kibbutz Kfar Aza where some of the worst atrocities on October 7 took place. Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana led the tour for the delegation headed by Security and Defense Subcommittee chair Nathalie Loiseau from France and Foreign Affairs Committee chair David McAllister from Germany. They were joined by MPs Rasa Juknevičienė of Lithuania, Gheorghe-Vlad Nistor of Romania, Attila Ara-Kovács of Hungary, and Carina Ohlsson of Sweden. “What we’ve seen here in Kfar Aza we will never forget,” said Loiseau in remarks to the press at the end of the tour through the burnt buildings in the border town where over 50 were murdered and at least 17 were taken hostage on October 7.

Stories Of Heartbreak, Heroism And Hope

 

  • Watch these inspiring videos from Jewish Federations:
  • Yaara – A young volunteer working with evacuated children
  • Miriam – An older adult receiving basic needs support
  • “When it finally hit home,” a personal account by the Jerusalem Post’s editor-in-chief.

 

Further Reading

 

  • Video: The legality of Israel’s actions in Gaza