Despite the optimism in yesterday morning's update that a ceasefire was likely, within a few hours Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fired multiple barrages of rockets at Israeli population centers, killing one civilian in the city of Rehovot and injuring others. The rocket attacks continued for a number of hours. While overnight only sporadic rocket-fire took place, a number of launches remain underway at the time of writing. There is wide-spread speculation that this may be a final volley before a formal ceasefire begins.
In the early evening hours yesterday, a particularly intense round of rocket fire from Gaza caused millions of Israelis to run to shelters, including in major cities in the country’s center, such as Tel Aviv and Rishon Letzion. In an apparent malfunction of the Iron Dome defense system (see details here), one rocket hit an apartment building in the city of Rehovot that did not have its own shelters. One person was killed, nine others were injured, and the building suffered major damage. See further details here and here.
So far, more than 880 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza during Operation Shield and Arrow, now entering its fourth day. Of these, some 672 crossed the border from Palestinian territories into Israel, with the rest falling short, or landing in the sea. Iron Dome has been activated 260 times, and has had a 91% success rate during the current operation. See here for a PIJ-produced video of a rocket being launched. 12 Israelis have been wounded as a result of the rocket fire and thousands more are suffering from various forms of trauma. Millions have had their lives interrupted. See here for an article about one family’s life under fire.
Meanwhile the IDF continued to strike PIJ military targets, and says that the terrorist organization has suffered a major blow, including losing many of its top commanders. In total, 170 terror targets have been hit. See here for a video of the IDF striking a PIJ military post and here for footage of a strike on a mobile rocket launcher. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza says that 31 people have been killed in Israeli strikes since fighting began. According to the IDF, at least four Palestinians have been killed, including children, as a result of failed rocket launches from Gaza. See further details here.
According to media reports, strong efforts are still underway to finalize a formal ceasefire, under Egyptian mediation. In an indication of the country’s willingness to de-escalate, Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that “quiet will be met with quiet.” See more here.
Jewish Federations’ partners, including the Jewish Agency for Israel, JDC, and the Israel Trauma Coalition, are addressing needs on the ground. The Jewish Agency’s Fund for Victims of Terror is providing immediate financial support to families whose homes were directly hit by rocket fire and is helping them with urgent needs. In addition to aid provided by the Government of Israel, the fund also grants supplementary aid to families affected by rocket fire, assists with rehabilitation needs, and addresses the needs of children and families dealing with post-traumatic stress. The Fund, which operates thanks to donations from Jewish Federations and others, was established 20 years ago and to date has supported 9,000 families affected by terrorist incidents and rocket fire, with grants totaling $20 million. Since the beginning of this year, the Fund has awarded grants to the residents of the Gaza border and victims of terror attacks totaling $220,000, and has also run special camps for approximately 350 children and teenagers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC), another Federation partner, reports that close to 60% of residents living near the Gaza border have temporarily left their homes and are staying in areas further away from the conflict. ITC says the number of calls to trauma help lines have more than doubled in recent days, with the city of Sderot seeing the highest number of calls, by far. ITC says that the majority of the calls come from parents looking for advice as to how to calm their children. Due to the security situation, most trauma care is taking place over Zoom, but professionals visit homes in person where rockets have fallen within close proximity.
Jewish Federations of North America remain in close contact with the Israeli government, our partners, and others to monitor the situation. We will continue to update as needed.
Meanwhile, we are hoping for a quiet weekend here in Israel, and wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom.
Senior Vice President Israel and Overseas
Director General, Israel Office
At the end of the third day of Operation "Shield and Arrow,” I wanted to share with you an update on the developments:
· As of 4pm ET, the Islamic Jihad has fired more than 800 rockets which were aimed at Israeli civilian communities, reaching the area of Tel Aviv.
· 1.5 million Israelis are at rocket range.
· An apartment building in Rehovot, the Central District of Israel (about 20 kilometers south of Tel Aviv) was hit. One person was killed and eight others were injured. Three houses in Sderot were directly hit by rockets. No injuries were reported.
· 20% of the rockets launched by the Islamic Jihad have fallen inside Gaza. These misfires have killed four innocent Palestinian civilians, including a ten year old child. The Islamic Jihad is a threat to the innocent men, women and children in Gaza, placing them in the line of fire.
· The IDF targeted two commanders in the Islamic Jihad’s Rocket Launching Force. Ali Ghali, the Commander of the Rocket Launching Force, a central figure in IJ, was responsible for the recent rocket barrages launched against Israel. Abu Deka, Deputy Commander of the Rocket Launching Force, was directly responsible for the barrage of rockets fired toward Israeli civilians in the last few days.