Update on Current Situation in Israel

The following is an update from Jewish Federations of North America, the parent organization of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh:

Join the March for Israel, tomorrow, Tuesday, November 14th in Washington DC to show your support for Israel, stand in solidarity with the hostages, and condemn antisemitism. Read this editorial from today’s Jerusalem Post: DC Israel march is American Jews’ moment to rise to the occasion. Bus registration has closed through the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. You are welcome to arrange your own transportation to the March for Israel. Please visit www.marchforisrael.org for more information and frequently asked questions. Reminder: Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is not the event organizer.

The Latest

  • As the ground war continues, Israeli forces have made considerable gains toward destroying Hamas’ fighting capability.
  • It is confirmed that 44 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the ground offensive began; a total of 363 soldiers have been slain since October 7. In addition, 239 hostages are being held by Hamas in Gaza. More than 1,200 Israelis were killed on October 7, and at least 7,000 have been injured. Some 9,500 rockets have been fired at Israel in that time, and more than a quarter of a million Israelis have been internally displaced. Read more here about some of the soldiers who fell recently.
  • More details on these developments are below.

Key Resources from Jewish Federations

  • Resources: Readers can access a Jewish Federations toolkit of resources here, and can refer to the Community Mobilization Center Resource Hub for the latest talking points, tools, and other resources.
  • 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.
  • Details: For full details about the home front and military operations, see this update. And for information on the latest overall numbers from the conflict, see here.
  • Volunteering: Read this Jewish Federations update on volunteering opportunities in Israel right now.
  • Call: 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.
  • Additional resources can be found at the end of this update.

Israel Defense Forces Operations

As the ground operation progresses (see video footage here), IDF troops continue to find Hamas weaponry and infrastructure during raids in Gaza, including inside schools, mosques, and the homes of terror operatives (see footage here). Yesterday, IDF forces located Hamas infrastructure in Al-Quds University and seized a cache of explosives inside the Abu Bakr mosque. Troops seized dozens of weapons, military equipment, and Hamas battle plans, while others raided the home of a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative in the Beit Hanoun area, where they found a weapons cache, including in a child’s bedroom. In other raids, troops found tunnel shafts, intelligence materials (see photos here), weapons – including some inside a kindergarten (see video here), and a copy of Hitler’s book Mein Kampf, in Arabic.

Five soldiers were killed on Shabbat when they entered a booby-trapped terror tunnel. It is estimated that there are 300 miles of Hamas tunnels under Gaza. Read the background on Hamas tunnels here.

In one battle over the weekend, the IDF overran Hamas’ Badr Outpost. In fierce fighting, some 150 Hamas fighters were killed; remarkably, there were no casualties on the Israeli side.
Since the beginning of the war, the IDF has struck over 15,000 terror targets in the Gaza Strip and located 6,000 weapons. The military has been utilizing the combined efforts of infantry, tanks, artillery, naval and air support. In this video, see how a ground unit called in for a helicopter-led precise strike against terrorists who were holed up in an apartment building.
Fierce fighting also continues around Gaza’s largest hospital, Shifa where Israel maintains it is working to ensure that patients remain unharmed in the battles. A safe corridor has been opened for civilians wanting to leave the area of the hospital (listen to this call between the IDF and hospital management and see this map).

The IDF said it supplied 80 gallons of fuel to Shifa Hospital, in coordination with its staff, but that Hamas prevented the medical center from accepting it. The army has accused Hamas of having its main base of operations under the hospital and has called on Palestinian civilians in the area to evacuate south. The IDF placed jerry cans of fuel near the hospital for “urgent medical purposes,” on Sunday, and had coordinated the delivery in advance with hospital officials (listen to this phone conversation coordinating the delivery; and see this video footage of the delivery). Later, it said, “the IDF received evidence that Hamas officials prevented the hospital from receiving the fuel.” The military published a call (listen here) between an IDF officer and a senior Gazan health official, who said that Yousef Abu-Al Rish, the deputy health minister in Gaza, forbade the hospital from receiving the fuel.

The Hamas-run Gazan Health Ministry says that over 10,560 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, as a result of the war.

The Home Front

The country continues to mourn the massacre of October 7, and await the return of the hostages:

  • Following the destruction, does Kibbutz Be’eri have a future?
  • See this story of a Beduin family from Rahat’s bravery, saving a Jewish woman at the same kibbutz on October 7.
  • See October7.org, an online repository of firsthand accounts of the massacres taken from Israeli social media and translated into English.
  • Read here about the long road to recovery ahead for a severely injured survivor of the Rave.
  • Among those killed in the fighting in Gaza is Matan Meir, 38, a member of the production crew on the hit Israeli television series, Fauda.
  • Read this story of 81-year-old Varda Harmati, a child of Holocaust survivors, who was murdered by Hamas terrorists in her home on Kibbutz Re’im on October 7.
  • Watch this interview with retired general, and former MK Yair Golan, who, upon hearing of the attacks in the south on October 7, grabbed a weapon and headed south.
  • According to NBC News, a US administration official has confirmed that a potential deal is being discussed that would see some 80 women and children being held hostage by Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza released in exchange for Israel freeing imprisoned female and underage terror convicts. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a deal “could happen.”

Watch the Netanyahu interview on Meet the Press here.

The level of rocket fire from Gaza remains low. The IDF has released some figures about rocket fire in the last month. Around 9,500 rockets have been fired on Israel by Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north since the start of the war on October 7. Of those 9,500, around 3,000 were fired in only the first four hours by Hamas. Some 900 rockets (12% of those fired) have fallen short and landed inside the Gaza Strip itself. See the infographic about rocket fire here and see footage of the IDF’s rocket and missile defense crews at work, here. In the north, rocket and other fires by Hezbollah are increasing. Yesterday, one civilian was killed and at least 20 people were injured in attacks from over the Lebanese border. Israel has now retaliated as far as 25 miles into Lebanese territory.

International Response

The U.S. appears to be incrementally increasing its military involvement in the war. In addition to the very significant presence of carrier groups and other forces, which are on stand-by in the region, the U.S. military has reportedly hit missiles headed to Israel from Yemen, has drones above Gaza assisting in the search for the hostages, and has struck pro-Iranian forces in Syria. Last night, at least six pro-Iran fighters were killed in U.S. strikes on eastern Syria in response to attacks on American forces. During a visit to Israel yesterday, Republican US presidential candidate, and former New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie rejected calls for a ceasefire; he said it would not make sense for Israel to halt fighting now. Read more here.

According to unconfirmed media reports, Israel is seeking to install former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a humanitarian coordinator for the Gaza Strip. In France, more than 1,250 anti-Jewish acts have been recorded since October 7. Last night, 180,000 people marched in Paris to protest antisemitism. Read more here. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his support for Israel and its right to defend itself in a phone call with Israeli President Isaac Herzog yesterday. The call came after Macron’s interview last Friday on the BBC, when he said, “These babies, these women, these old people (in Gaza) are being bombed and killed. So there is no reason for it and no legitimacy. So we do plead with Israel to stop.” Speaking to Herzog, Macron said he hadn’t intended to accuse Israel of intentionally harming innocent civilians.

The UK’s Defense Secretary Grant Shapps has come out unequivocally supporting Israel. “If Britain had been subject to an attack of terrorists coming and murdering [1,200] people and cutting off heads, and we knew where those terrorists had gone, no one would say to Britain to stop going after them,” Shapps said. Read more here.

Inspiration

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

  • The ultra-Orthodox moshav of Bet Hilkia is located right next to a major air force base (Tel Nof). Haredi residents made a giant sign out of LED lights that says “Toda” (“thanks”) to the pilots flying overhead. See here. And read more here on the changing face of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox population emerging from the war.
  • Despite the war, the Ethiopian-Israeli community will mark the Sigd festival tomorrow; the observance is becoming increasingly mainstream in the Jewish state. Read more here. Jewish Federations sends warm holiday greetings to our friends at the Ethiopian National Project and the entire Ethiopian Israeli community.
  • Watch here scenes of unity, solidarity, and inspiration from Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, where Israelis and French Jews were about to board a flight to Tel Aviv; and see here locals in Tokyo supporting the Jewish state.
  • Read more here about the Christian cowboys from Montana who are volunteering in Israel right now.

The Jewish Agency for Israel

The Jewish Agency for Israel continues to undertake emergency relief and other work in multiple sectors. To date, it has:

  • Distributed 4,760 grants from its Fund for the Victims of Terror.
  • Provided $2.6 million for humanitarian relief to eight regional councils in the south.
  • Given 593 emergency grants to small businesses in the south.
  • Delivered 13,000 food baskets to residents of the Agency’s Amigour elderly care facilities.
  • Provided 1,100 hand-held computer tablets for the children of evacuated new immigrants, to enable online learning in their temporary homes/hotels.
  • Given 185,820 meals to evacuees.

Additional Background Reading

Other Resources

    • Resources: Readers can access a Jewish Federations toolkit of resources here, and can refer to the Community Mobilization Center Resource Hub for the latest talking points, tools and other resources.
    • 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.
    • Details: For full details about the home front and military operations, see this update. And for information on the latest overall numbers from the conflict, see here.
    • Local Authorities: Jewish Federations have produced a document answering questions about funding impacted localities and municipalities in Israel. See here.
    • Volunteering: Birthright Israel has opened a volunteering program, where people from outside of Israel can come to Tel Aviv and take part in food rescue operations to prevent shortages in the Israeli market, including work to sort, pack and distribute goods for civil and military personnel.
    • Critical Information: For those in Israel looking for help, critical information about the situation on the ground, or other assistance, see this resource page put together by Jewish Federations.
    • Listen here to Rabbis Angela Buchdahl and Shlomo Nisanov’s testimony during a UJA New York mission to Israel.
    • Knesset: The heads of Jewish Federations of North America have received a letter from the Knesset, thanking the community for its unprecedented support during the country’s dark hour. See the letter here.
    • Supplying Protective Equipment: See also this Jewish Federations information page on requests for personal protective equipment which are circulating and this update regarding volunteering.
    • Read the latest communication 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.
    • Solidarity Gatherings: Over 120 communities have held solidarity gatherings. Watch here. For a guidebook on hosting a gathering in your community, see here.
    • Hostages: Jewish Federations have launched The Blue Ribbon Campaign, which symbolizes support and solidarity for the safe return of the hostages taken by Hamas. Wearing a ribbon publicly unites people of all religions, races, nationalities, ethnicities, ages, and generations and demonstrates for the people of Israel that they are not alone and that good people across the globe are with them and their families during this dark time.

The needs in Israel are immense.
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