Update from the Jewish Agency for Israel

Sunday, May 5, 2019, 6 p.m.

Dear Friends,

Unfortunately, I don’t have much good news to share at the moment. The situation remains difficult, with over 600 rockets fired at southern Israel since yesterday morning. Four people have lost their lives and dozens have been wounded. Ourhearts go out to them and to their families. It is difficult to imagine living under these circumstances, with just a few seconds to get to a safe area – over and over again. Elderly, parents with young children, people trying to go about their lives despite the non-stop rocket fire. The next 24 hours are critical. International efforts are ongoing. The situation will either escalate, which is why shelters have been opened even north of Tel Aviv, or a new sort of ceasefire will be reached.

The Jewish Agency for Israel continues to monitor developments very closely. The instructions we distributed yesterday based on our conversations with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Homefront Command remain the same. All of our program leaders are well versed in the security procedures, and we are maintaining ongoing contact with everyone. Some program activities have been modified in light of the situation, including those of the nine groups that just returned from the International March of the Living.

Most of our staff in the south went to work today, but we offered Jewish Agency employees with children up to high school age the option to work from home. Staff at our absorption centers have arranged special indoor activities for the children who are home from school, and everyone is working hard to maintain business as usual to the extent possible. Our Chief Security Officer made a point of commenting on the impressive fortitude of the residents at our five absorption centers in the south. It is no trivial matter to remain stalwart under the constant fire they’re enduring.

There are about 30 Amigour apartments in the south which have suffered some damage. Thankfully, it was relatively minor, there was no need to evacuate and repairs are already underway.

Lastly, our Fund for Victims of Terror will distribute emergency funds to 19 individuals and families, with some of the funds only being granted tomorrow due to the difficulty of reaching areas under heavy fire. These funds are intended to provide immediate assistance when terror strikes. Oftentimes, people are left without a wallet or checkbook, with no means to cover immediate expenses. The Jewish Agency operates very quickly to ensure these families have some way to pay for food, medicine and sometimes funeral expenses. The funds will go to families who lost their homes and those hospitalized, many with serious injuries. They include old-timers and newcomers to Israel, ultra-Orthodox, Arabs, Bedouin, foreign and Palestinian workers caught in the line of this brutal fire on civilians. These checks are often distributed together with a Jewish Federations of North America representative, including leaders of Federations who happen to be in Israel during these terror attacks.

These challenging times are also when we feel just how strong the bond is between Am Israel and the Jewish people. We have received an outpouring of support — phone calls, texts and emails. Michael Jeser from the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, who I just called last week after the Poway attack, contacted me to express the support of his community. Our partners at Keren Hayesod-UIA have repeatedly expressed solidarity as have Partnership2Gether communities in the U.S. This support is the strength of our people, and it is what will carry us through these hard times.

I am proud of the role The Jewish Agency is playing during this difficult situation. I am once again moved by the remarkable resilience of the people of Israel. Let us hope and pray for quieter days ahead.

If you would like to donate to The Jewish Agency’s Fund for Victims of Terror to support our efforts to help those impacted, please click here.

Best regards,

Isaac Herzog
Chairman of the Executive
Jewish Agency for Israel