Recent Violence in Israel

UPDATE 5/25/21

JCPA Condemns Antisemitic Incidents in the Wake of Israel-Hamas Hostilities

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the national network hub of 125 Jewish Community Relations Councils and 16 national Jewish agencies, expresses its deep concern with the alarming rise in antisemitic incidents in the United States. We urge civic, political, and faith leaders to denounce these acts of violence and intimidation immediately and intensify efforts to combat this surge in antisemitism, hate, and bigotry.

Since the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, there has been an increased number of violent attacks on American Jews, vandalism of Jewish institutions, and spread of antisemitic rhetoric, particularly on social media. Criticism of a particular policy or action of Israel’s government, even if harsh, may not be antisemitic. However, it is not acceptable to attack or assault people or property because they are or are perceived to be Jewish or linked to Jews, nor to call for the genocide of the Jewish people or the annihilation of Israel and its citizens.

JCPA believes that antisemitism is inextricably linked to other forms of hate and bigotry, which have risen significantly over the last few years. It is crucial that we continue to fight them together and build upon the victories, such as the enactment of the NO HATE Act, that we achieve by joining forces across our diverse communities and standing in solidarity with each other.


 

UPDATE 5/19/21

THE CONSULATE GENERAL OF ISRAEL IN NEW YORK

Dear Friends,

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have fired more than 4,000 rockets from Gaza in the past 10 days. These rockets have targeted everyone indiscriminately. 

This morning, 4 rockets were fired at northern Israel from Lebanon, 1 was intercepted by the Iron dome. This rocket attack came after the events of last Friday when 3 rockets were fired into northern Israel from Syria and last Thursday, when another 3 rockets were fired from Lebanon, thankfully all three of those fell into the Mediterranean Sea.

Yesterday, at 11am Israel time, 40 trucks carrying food, medical equipment and other humanitarian aid were on their way to the Gaza strip, through the Keren Shalom humanitarian border crossing, when Hamas fired mortars at the crossing preventing these trucks from entering and bringing aid to the civilians within Gaza.  At 1:30pm, a second attempt was made to allow the convoy through the crossing and, after just 8 of the 40 trucks made their way into the Gaza Strip, another round of mortar fire commenced, injuring an IDF soldier and once again preventing the aid from entering.  At 2:45pm, there was a third round of mortar fire targeting the crossing, killing two Thai workers and injuring an additional 10 people.  

The UN coordinator, Lynn Hastings, tweeted that these attacks were the reason aid was unable to enter Gaza, and that another attempt would be made today.  Today’s attempt was made and met, yet again, by mortar fire and the shipment was not able to proceed.  We are aware of the difficulties faced by civilians in Gaza and continue attempting to bring in aid to the civilian population. 

As thousands of rockets continue to fall on Israel, we pray for a quick and honest end to these hostilities.  While we hope that a ceasefire will soon be reached, Hamas cannot use this ceasefire as an opportunity to rearm and regroup, only to attack again in a week or a month.  Hamas must understand that they will not be able to fire at Israel without them being held responsible.  A legitimate ceasefire will only happen when Hamas' military capabilities are degraded and their will to fight is exhausted.  With the right ceasefire, and the extended period of peace and quiet that comes with it, both sides will be able to rebuild and the aid, which Hamas has prevented from reaching its citizens, will finally be able to make its way into the hands of those who need it desperately. 

In order for Hamas to learn that it will be held responsible for its actions, countries around the world must recognize Hamas’ responsibility with explicit condemnation for their escalation in this wave of violence.  Doing so will prevent the strengthening of a radical terrorist organization and, hopefully, allow pragmatic and moderate actors, who truly care about their citizens, to gain support in Gaza.

 Thank you to all of our friends who have stood by and continue to stand by us in these difficult days as this conflict continues.  Despite the best efforts of the Israeli government, this conflict was started by Hamas and continues despite international calls for a ceasefire.

 We appreciate the support and solidarity of our friends during these difficult times.

Please follow us on Social Media:


UPDATE 5/14/21

FROM THE CONSULATE GENERAL OF ISRAEL IN NEW YORK 

Since Monday, more than 2,000 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel by Hamas and other terrorist groups. Approximately 350 of these rockets have fallen inside the Gaza Strip causing significant damage and endangering the lives of Palestinians. 

Thanks to the Iron Dome Missile Defense System, approximately 85-90% of the rockets that were fired at Israel have been intercepted before they could land and do damage. Despite this, 10-15% of these rockets which have landed in Israel have injured more than 300 Israeli civilians, leaving 8 in critical condition, and have killed killing 8 civilians, including a 5 year old child and one IDF soldier by an anti-tank missile attack. 

In response, the IDF has struck over 600 military targets in the Gaza Strip including anti-tank missile squadrons, observation posts, terror tunnels, rocket launch sites, several high-rise buildings which were being used as weapon warehouses and terrorist headquarters. The IDF has also struck 2 weapons manufacturing sites hidden in civilian areas in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. 

The IDF has a strong commitment to operating within the framework of international law. The strikes target Hamas' military capabilities and the IDF work to strike these targets with precision. Many of these sites are located in civilian areas as these terrorist organizations violate international law by hiding within civilian areas. When striking in these areas, the IDF employs a multitude of tactics in order to protect the populace including knocking on roofs (a smaller bomb which is dropped and exploded well above the building, causing no damage but shaking the building to let the occupants know that they should leave) and calling the cell phones of civilians in the area before striking.   

The responsibility for this round of violence falls entirely on Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza. 

We appreciate the support and solidarity of our friends during these difficult times. 

Please follow us on Social Media:

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach. We pray for calm.

Israel Nitzan
Acting Consul General
Consulate General of Israel 
Office: 212-499-5454
Twitter: @IsraelNitzan


Partnership Update - 5/14/21

  • Israel is in the midst of a major escalation in hostilities. From Gaza, Hamas are launching rockets constantly into Israel and Israeli Arabs are rioting in the mixed Jewish and Arab cities and in many other locations. Very difficult reality and a few rays of hope.
  • Some updates from the Western Galilee:
    • The famous Uri Buri restaurant in the Old City of Akko and Uri’s hotel, the Efendi have been torched and burned. Uri Jermias has been interviewed on many of the major TV channels and has declared that he will rebuild and he has not lost hope in the shared society of Akko.
    • All of the Jewish owned B&Bs in the Old City have been torched and burned.
    • Our alums of the Women Leading a Dialogue have expressed the desire to get together and talk and listen to each other… will meet next week right after Eid -al- Fitr and Shavout.
    • A teacher from the Amit Kennedy school in Akko, a partner in our School twinnings was out during the riots looking for his own students so as to send them home. He was lynched by an Arab mob and is hospitalized in the GMC in serious condition.
    • Feelings of shock, dismay, sadness, confusion and anger characterize how we all feel right now….
    • All the mayors of the municipalities of the greater Western Galilee, Christians, Jews and Moslems met today and issued a joint statement to the youth of the area to return to co-existence and stop all violent activity.
    • During the first night of riots, the mayor of Mazra, the Arab town next to Nahariya went on the loudspeaker of the Muezzin and began in very loud Arabic to berate the parents of the village and insist they bring their children home to stop the violence!
    • Show your support on our Facebook campaign: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1888973861255223
    • The WEEKLY will not go out this week due to Shavout. 
  • In the midst of our sadness and confusion, we prepare to celebrate the end of the 49 days of counting the Omer with the holiday of Shavout, the Festival of the First fruits and Giving of the Torah. May it be a joyous holiday for all of the Jewish people.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag sameach.

Bracha


UPDATE May 12, 2021

Statement from the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation

The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation stands in solidarity with Israel and unequivocally supports Israel’s right to defend itself. Like all countries, Israel has the responsibility to protect its civilians and its borders against terrorism and security threats. 

We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire and incendiary balloons launched from Gaza by the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which began on Monday, May 10, and continues through today. Over the last 48 hours, these terrorist groups have fired more than 600 missiles toward Israeli towns and cities, including Jerusalem, which is home to Jews, Muslims, Christians and other faith groups, threatening the lives of civilians of all backgrounds. The Iron Dome defense system has intercepted hundreds of rockets heading toward populated areas saving countless lives, but it cannot defend against the terror and trauma inflicted on tens of thousands of Israelis now running from their homes, offices, classrooms, and buses to hide in bomb shelters. Almost one-third of rockets launched end up landing inside Gaza itself, putting their own people at risk.

We are heartbroken at the loss of innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives. We recognize that images of violence in Jerusalem, especially during Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) and Ramadan, are deeply painful to Jews and Muslims. There is never justification for indiscriminate violence.

This is not about evictions, annexation, or two states; nor is it about building a better future for Palestinians, a premise that the local and national Jewish communities have consistently and continue to strongly support. Rather, the purpose of these indiscriminate attacks on Israeli Arab and Jewish civilians is, as it has always been, to terrorize innocent civilians and to take advantage of an already tense situation solely for the political benefit of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s autocrats.

The Federation will continue to relay timely information to the community, including any opportunities to hear directly from Israeli authorities, Jewish leaders, and others from the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys who are currently in Israel. Members of our Jewish community have children, grandchildren, extended family, and friends in harm’s way at this very moment, and we join them in praying for their safety and well-being. We extend our prayers for recovery to all those injured and mourn for all innocent lives lost. We join with those ever-yearning for a more peaceful, secure, and just future for all living in the region.


A MESSAGE FROM THE CONSULATE GENERAL OF ISRAEL IN NEW YORK

Israel is currently experiencing a wave of large-scale terrorism targeted at major metropolitan areas throughout the country. Three Israeli citizens, one IDF officer, and one Indian national have been killed by rockets in Southern Israel. More than a million Israeli civilians are currently under the threat of rocket fire, and all aspects of daily life have come to a halt. No other country would tolerate such extreme terrorism and aggression against its sovereignty and its citizens. Israel has the right to defend its citizens.

Israel is acting against terrorist organizations by neutralizing terrorists and terrorist infrastructure. This is an accurate and measured operation intended to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage. The IDF does not target civilians or civilian infrastructure.

Conversely, Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization that is responsible for the death and injury of thousands of Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Out of 1,100+ rockets fired at Israel in the last 40 hours, over 200 have fallen inside Gaza, putting Palestinian lives in danger. We believe that there are Palestinian casualties due to Hamas rockets, the fault of which Hamas blames Israel to inflate their data. These rockets do not differentiate between populations.

Hamas’ founding charter is an antisemitic document that endorses the murder of Jews solely on the basis of their religion. The organization has been designated as a terrorist organization by many countries in the world – including the United States and the European Union.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) are committing a double war crime by indiscriminately firing at civilian population centers from within a civilian population center. Hamas intentionally situates its military facilities in the heart of Gazan civilian centers, often locating many military installments within homes and multi-story buildings. Such methods use the Palestinian civilian population as a human shield.

The Hamas terrorist organization is working to seize control of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian narrative while presenting itself as the "defender of Jerusalem and the holy sites." These acts threaten to overthrow the current leadership of the Palestinian Authority and strengthen the forces undermining stability of the entire Middle East.

In the weeks leading up to this escalation, Israel expressed the utmost restraint to prevent the violence we see today. Contrary to the Hamas narrative, Israel ensures the freedom of religion, worship and protest to all people. Israeli police took all the possible de-escalatory steps to prevent unrest in Jerusalem: stopping the entrance of Jews to the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day, changing the route of the Jerusalem Day Flag March and then ultimately canceling the march altogether, and asking the supreme court to delay the hearing on the issue of Sheikh Jarrah. Israel additionally showed restraint in the face of the first rocket attacks on Jerusalem and the 200 arson attacks in the south caused by incendiary balloon devices. Every de-escalation tactic was met with further incitement and acts of terror by Hamas, culminating in the barrage of rockets falling across the country.

We call on the international community to unequivocally condemn Hamas’ rocket fire and terrorist activities against Israeli civilians, to recognize Israel’s right to protect its citizens, and to work with the Palestinian Authority to immediately stop the incitement and violence.

We appreciate the support and solidarity of our allies during these difficult times.

Thank you,

Israel Nitzan
Acting Consul General
Consulate General of Israel New York
800 Second Avenue
New York City, N.Y. 10017
Office: 212-499-5454
Twitter: @IsraelNitzan


A MESSAGE FROM THE PARTNERSHIP WESTERN GALILEE

Dear Partnership Family,

As you all know by now, over the past two days there has been an escalation of violence in Israel that has created terrible upheaval, fear and frustration for all Israelis including our Israeli family in the Western Galilee.

At this time, there are no answers or predictions of what will transpire over the next couple of days or weeks, but we want to convey that we have been in constant communication with each other, and we will continue to keep all of you apprised of the situation our friends are living with right now.

In addition to the rockets being launched from Gaza that we are reading about in the U.S. news, there have been riots in many Israeli cities, including Lod, Ramle and Akko. Tragically, our friend Uri Jeremias’s beloved Uri Buri restaurant and Efendi hotel were attacked, torched and burned.  There has been additional damage done in Akko and surrounding areas in the Western Galilee.

Our Israeli friends are so grateful for the many notes, emails and calls from our American friends offering support and sending love and virtual hugs. If you and/or your community would like to show your support and share words of inspiration please load them at this link  http://rebrand.ly/Heart_Israel   or in our Facebook   https://fb.watch/5rtGtTCIGO/

We are so proud of the special ties we have built and continue to build between our American, Hungarian and Israeli communities in our Western Galilee Central Region Consortium Partnership.  It is times like these that highlight the necessity to do so, and the rewards we gleen from our relationships.

With prayers for peace and safety and much gratitude to all of you,

Leslie Kramer and Elisha Flax, Partnership Co-Chairs

Bracha Zuriel, Consortium Director

Sharon Chait, Partnership Director


Recent days have seen significant clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli security forces. While the violence had centered on Jerusalem, it has now spread to other parts of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Israel is currently in a state of emergency.  

We condemn the incitement to violence by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas and urge all parties to do what they can to deescalate the situation, and we stand in solidarity with Israel's right to defend itself against terrorists.

A major escalation in violence occurred last night (May 10) as Hamas fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities and towns, including Jerusalem. At least 27 Israeli civilians have been injured and 2 Israelis have died. 

We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as we learn them.

Get Updates in Real Time


Webinar with Consul General

In addition please note that the consul general plans to offer a webinar tomorrow, May 12 at 1:00 p.m., to update any community members who may be interested in hearing official updates and asking questions. We will have both Acting Consul General Israel Nitzan and a Representative of the IDF spokesperson's unit on the call to offer updates on the situation. Additional speakers may be added.


How did the tensions start?

The current clashes come at a moment when an unusually large number of occasions are all coinciding due to the differences in the Muslim, Jewish, and Gregorian calendars. (Some have described this week as a “perfect storm brewing.”) Many of these events mark a time of heightened sensitivity among both Muslim and Jewish worshippers.

  • May 7, when the main rioting began, was the last Friday of Ramadan, and tens of thousands gathered on the Temple Mount for prayers.
  • Saturday night was known as Laylat al-Qadr, which marks the day in Islam in which it is believed that the Quran was first sent to the world from Heaven.
  • Sunday, Yom Yerushalaim, marked the 54 years since the city’s reunification under Israeli rule and is usually celebrated with tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers parading with flags through the Old City and ending at the Western Wall.
  • Wednesday will mark Eid El Fitr, a major Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
  • Also, coming later in the week, is May 14, which is known by Palestinians as Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, which is the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel in the civil calendar.

Rocket Attacks

  • More than 250 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel overnight, with the onslaught beginning at exactly 6:00 p.m. local time (11:00 a.m. ET). See here for video of multiple rockets being launched from populated civilian areas of Gaza, and here for footage of the rockets reaching Israeli towns
  • Two Israeli women were killed in Ashkelon – an elderly woman and her caregiver who couldn't reach the bomb shelter in time.
  • Hundreds of sirens sounded across the Jewish state throughout the night, and millions of Israelis spent time in bomb shelters.
  • Most rockets were fired at cities and towns in Israel’s south, but a number of longer-range rockets were launched against cities further away, including Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. This is the first time that Jerusalem has been targeted by rockets since the 2014 war in Gaza known as Operation Protective Edge.
  • About 1/3 of all the rockets fired since last night fell short of their targets including many in Palestinian territory, or landed in unpopulated areas. Of the remainder, Israel’s anti-rocket defense system – the Iron Dome –successfully intercepted 90% of incoming projectiles. See here for video of the Iron Dome intercepting multiple incoming rockets during the dawn attack on Ashkelon.
  • Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have taken responsibility for the attacks.

Israel Response

  • In response to the rocket fire, Israel struck some 130 targets in Gaza, mainly hitting terrorist infrastructure belonging to Hamas. The wave of counter-attacks began after the security cabinet authorized "significant airstrikes" in the Gaza Strip.
  • The IDF response has been named Operation Guardian of the Walls (Shomer HaChomot).
  • Targets hit by Israel include the home of a Hamas battalion commander in a multi-story building, the organization’s military intelligence headquarters, an arms factory, military complexes belonging to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as two terrorist attack tunnels that were close to the border fence with Israel. See here for video of IDF precision attacks, (filmed from the planes), hitting terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.
  • In one attack, the IDF bombed a Hamas team preparing to fire an anti-tank guided missile.
  • Palestinian sources claim that a total of 24 people, including children, were killed in the strikes and a further 103 were injured. Israel has said that it has killed at least 15 Hamas terrorists in its attacks.
  • IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman said that while Israel always “takes precautions” to minimize possible harm to non-combatants during its military operations, Hamas “deliberately places its military assets in the heart of the civilian population in Gaza.” He added that many of those killed in Gaza, were struck by “errant rockets fired by Hamas,” and not by Israeli airstrikes

Federation and its Partners

  • The Jewish Federations of North America has been closely monitoring the situation on the ground and has activated their Emergency Situation Protocols. They are in close contact with the government, security forces, partners, and individual Federation representatives in the areas under attack.
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel has placed its Fund for the Victims of Terror into Emergency Mode. The Fund, supported by our Federation, is in contact with the families of the homes that were directly damaged in Ashkelon and the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, as well as others who have been injured, to determine whether emergency funds are needed and will distribute as appropriate.
  • The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is convening their emergency situation team and assessing the situation on the ground and needs

 

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