The following is an update from Jewish Federations of North America, the parent organization of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh:
Due to Chanukah, the next update will be sent on Monday.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Alice – Evacuated woman living with disabilities
- Evacuees in Eilat
- See Israeli resilience and spirit “banishing darkness with light.”
- How Israelis are responding to Hamas’s October 7 massacre and the ensuing Israel-Hamas war (new series)
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.
- 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?
- 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:
- 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.