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When need arises, the Jewish community of St. Louis plays a vital role in providing financial assistance to fund urgently needed basics like food and medicine, and long-term aid like trauma counseling.

This page will help you find proven resources to direct your contributions to areas of humanitarian crises, locally or internationally, whether the disasters be natural or man-made.

 

A Statement from Jerry Silverman, President & CEO of Jewish Federations of North America

Dear Colleagues,

JFNA’s Israel office has prepared this summary of the significant escalation in the tensions between Israel and Hamas witnessed yesterday and today. In one of the most intense exchanges of fire since the 2014 conflict, a massive barrage of rockets was launched yesterday and today from Gaza into Israeli towns, and in response, the IDF destroyed about 150 Hamas military targets. There is considerable tension throughout Israel and the security establishment is on high alert. Here are some of the specifics:

Rockets
A major escalation began yesterday at Israel’s southern border. More than 180 rockets were fired from Gaza at civilian targets in Israel’s southern border communities. Dozens of rocket sirens were sounded throughout the night, sending families running to shelters. 30 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system and most remaining rockets landed in open areas. 11 Israelis were reported wounded.

Israeli Response
In response to the rocket attacks, the IDF struck over 150 military targets in Gaza, including a military compound belonging to the eastern Rafah Battalion, an offensive terror tunnel shaft located west of Jabalia and two Hamas combat tunnels located adjacent to the beach in the central Gaza Strip. Gazan news sources have reported three dead including a mother and toddler, as a result of Israeli strikes. Reinforcements are being sent to the south and the Israeli army began deploying more Iron Dome missile defense batteries to prepare for a scenario in which Gaza rockets reach deeper into Israeli territory. The Israeli Security Cabinet has held a series of special meetings to track developments and discuss appropriate responses. Officials have said the military is prepared, if necessary, to evacuate civilians located up to four kilometers from the border.

Prospects for a Cease Fire
Palestinian factions in Gaza publicly declared today they consider this round of violence to be over; however, a sense of calm has not yet been restored and many believe more rockets will be launched. Many in Israel’s security establishment believe Hamas is interested in securing not only an immediate cessation of violence but a long-term cease-fire agreement with Israel. Over the past few weeks, Egypt and the UN have been feverishly attempting to broker such a long-term agreement. Earlier this week, Hamas officials publicly stated that they are keeping an “open mind” about the Egyptian cease fire proposal and Hamas officials publicly claimed that a longer term truce would be signed with Israel by the end of the month. Israel has not confirmed any negotiations with Hamas and has warned that any cease fire agreement must include cessation not only of rockets but also of incendiary balloons and kite arson.

Kite Arson and Incendiary Balloons
This barrage of rockets comes after months of violent mass riots on the Gaza border and the launching of flaming kites and incendiary balloons by Palestinians in Gaza. Over the past four months, more than 7,000 acres of fields and forests in southern Israel have been burned by flaming kites and balloons resulting in millions of dollars in damages. More than 40 fires broke out over last weekend alone in what was the highest number of arson attacks since Hamas declared an unofficial ceasefire with Israel last month. Israel has struggled to counter the arson assault, but has increasingly carried out airstrikes on Palestinians preparing to launch incendiaries. In response to last weekend’s fires, the IDF struck two separate cells of Palestinians flying the devices over the border.

The kite arson began alongside the weekly violent protests along the Israel-Gaza border. These so-called “March of Return” protests have brought the most serious escalation until now between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. Border clashes have seen Israeli security forces facing gunfire, grenades, Molotov cocktails, and attempts to damage or penetrate the border fence. Last month, an Israeli soldier was killed by a sniper. The Israeli government maintains these protests are organized by Gaza’s Hamas rulers and holds Hamas fully accountable. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has reported 159 Palestinians have been killed since the start of these riots on March 30th. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of those killed were its members.

Federation’s Response
Our Israel office has been working together with local Federation representatives and our partner agencies to identify pressing needs in communities on the southern border for which remaining fire emergency funds have now been allocated. Monies were made available for trauma relief services for residents and first-responders, a Jewish Agency camp for at-risk children and to bring American firefighters to volunteer alongside Israeli firefighters on the Gaza border.

Other Federation-funded programs, established with emergency dollars in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, are in place which support the resiliency of civilians living in towns near Gaza, providing real-time comfort and assistance during this tense period.

JFNA’s Israel office has emergency protocols in place and stands ready to respond on behalf of the Federation system in the event of a further escalation.

Sincerely,

Jerry Silverman
President and CEO
Jewish Federations of North America

 

Update on Escalation of Conflict on the Gaza Border
An email from the Desk of Mark Gurvis, Executive Vice President, Jewish Federations of North America

 

Dear Colleagues,
As you know, today has seen major developments in Israel and Gaza, and our Israel office reports that this has been the largest escalation since Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

 

The key facts:
  •  More than 70 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel from Gaza today.
  • One Israeli civilian and three soldiers were injured by the rocket fire.
  • One rocket landed in the playground of a kindergarten which was, thankfully, unoccupied at the time.
  • In the Israeli towns, kibbutzim and villages close to Gaza, Red Alert sirens have sounded dozens of times today, with residents scrambling to shelters. In most of the region, citizens have 15 seconds to make it to a shelter before a rocket hits.
  • All residents of the area have been ordered to stay close to their shelters and all hikes and trips in the region have been cancelled for tomorrow.
  • Most rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system.
  • Rockets have also been fired at more distant Israeli towns such as Ashkelon.
  • The Israeli Navy apprehended a Palestinian boat with approximately 17 Palestinians that attempted to breach the naval blockade.
In response to the rocket fire, Israel and the Israel Defense Forces have taken a number of retaliatory actions:
  • The IDF struck and destroyed a terror tunnel that had been dug from Gaza, some 3000 feet into Israel. This is the tenth tunnel the IDF has neutralized since last October. Footage of the attack can be seen here.
  • The Israel Air Force has also hit some multiple Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, including military compounds, munition storage warehouses, naval targets and terrorist command centers.
  • The Palestinians have not reported any injuries.
  • The IDF Spokesperson announced a short time ago that Israel will not tolerate ongoing rockets and will widen its response should the rockets continue.
  • Israel’s Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog has written urgently to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres asking that the international body immediately condemn Hamas for the attacks.
The Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel office is in close contact with our partners on the ground, has updated emergency protocols, and will continue to monitor and report on the situation.

 

Sources: IDF Spokesperson, Walla! News, Galei Tzahal Radio, Ynet, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

Briefing on Iran’s Nuclear Files

Late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed the discovery of Iran’s secret nuclear files. Some have called the revelation “startling” and claim the documents are proof Iran is lying about its nuclear ambition. Others say that Iran has never violated the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which bans it from weapons production. Join Dr. Jonathan Schachter, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu, for a behind-the-scenes briefing on the secret files. This briefing is off-the-record. The briefing will take place on Tuesday, May 29 at 12:00 pm (Eastern Time). Register here.

 

In the Media

Click here to read a letter submitted by Andrew Rehfeld and Gerry Greiman to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in response to the article, “US Embassy move to Jerusalem gives Israel an undeserved reward.”

 

Resources

May 29, 2018: FedWorld Update – Fighting erupts along Gaza border Palestinians observe ‘catastrophe,’ temporarily shutter dozens of St. Louis-area businesses KWMU interview featuring Andrew Rehfeld, Jewish Federation of St. Louis President & CEO LIVE AUDIO BRIEFING May 15 at 3:00 pm (Eastern Time): Update on Israel-Gaza Border Clashes Join top Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, who just returned from the border, for a live audio insider briefing. Background: ‘Great Return March’ on the Gazan Border from Israel Action Network Embassy Move & Jerusalem Facts from Israel Action Network Jewish Community Relations Council Update on May 14, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JDC Responds to Guatemala Volcano Disaster

From the Desk of Jerry Silverman June 6, 2018 – New York, NY – The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is responding to the devastating and ongoing eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano, immediately supporting the aid efforts of the Guatemalan Jewish community as they distribute critically needed relief items to those in the hardest-hit areas and plan for the rebuilding of schools and clinics. JDC is in continuous touch with the Jewish community to monitor changing needs on the ground in preparation for recovery and rebuilding projects, including deploying its experts to develop recovery programs. To support JDC’s response in Guatemala, visit Donate.JDC.org/GuatemalaRelief.

“We join with those around the world mourning the loss of life in Guatemala and are privileged to join with the Guatemalan Jewish community as it quickly moves to provide life-saving aid and rebuild their country even stronger than before. Our work today underscores not just the value of tikkun olam – repairing a broken world – but the sanctity of all human life and the role of the Jewish people as global citizens responding to tragedies that impact our neighbors and loved ones,” said JDC CEO David Schizer.

With longstanding ties with the Jewish community of Guatemala, JDC activated its emergency response network to contact both the Guatemalan Jewish community and other NGO partners to assess immediate needs and implement a response following the eruption of the volcano, which killed more than 70 people with nearly 200 people still missing. The second round of eruptions in the last 24 hours is contributing to a rising death toll and 1.7 million people are currently affected by the disaster. JDC, as always, cooperates with local Jewish communities, NGO partners, and Israel, in deploying a robust response to such disasters. JDC’s disaster relief programs are funded by special appeals of the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors to JDC.

In the last year, JDC and its partners have responded to disasters and crises in Mexico, the Caribbean, Sri Lanka, and East Africa and has continued its post-disaster development work in Nepal, Philippines, and Haiti. JDC also provides ongoing humanitarian aid to refugees in Europe and the Middle East. JDC relief activities are coordinated with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, the Israeli government, Interaction, and the United Nations, as well as local and international partners.

About JDC
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters. For more information, visit JDC.org.