Background Facts Behind the War in Israel

On October 7, 2023, during the holidays of Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, Hamas terrorists launched an unprecedented attack on Israel from Gaza, firing thousands of rockets, breaching the country’s borders, killing hundreds of Israelis, wounding thousands, and taking dozens hostage. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the cabinet to declare that Israel was at war to defend itself.

The Hamas terrorist attack on Israel was the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

This unprecedented and unprovoked attack on Israel was the most significant attack on Israel since the Yom Kippur War 50 years earlier, and the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust ended in 1945.

Hamas infiltrated Israel in order to carry out a series of pogroms (massacres), killing over 1,400 Israelis, wounding over 4,500, and kidnapping over 200 civilians and soldiers. When compared to total population, the death toll from the attack is over 13 times that of the September 11th terror attacks on the United States. (See updates of of Oct. 23 below.)

In a cruel and murderous rampage, the terrorist group shot entire families in their homes, took civilians hostage, burned down homes, and stalked innocents fleeing for their lives. Holocaust survivors, the elderly, and young children are among the casualties and hostages, as were dozens of Arab Israelis.

The terror group fired over 7,000 rockets toward Israel’s major population centers, breached its borders, and infiltrated its communities.

At a music festival outside of Re’im, near the Gaza border, Hamas massacred at least 260 attendees.
In such a small country, this attack has personally affected the entire population; Every Israeli knows someone who has lost a relative, is missing a friend, or is desperately trying to find a loved one. Nearly everyone has a family member in the reserves.

At least 31 American citizens and six Canadians were killed in the fighting, as were citizens of Ukraine, Thailand, Great Britain, Germany, the Philippines, and other countries. Fourteen Americans and three Canadians are still missing.

Jewish Federations stand in total and complete solidarity with Israel, which has every right to defend itself and protect its citizens. 

LIke every country, Israel has the right to defend its sovereignty and its citizens from terrorism, rocket fire, and incursions. Self defense is a human right recognized under international law. Jewish Federations stand behind our Israeli brothers and sisters.

Hundreds of Members of Congress, Governors, and local officials have joined President Biden and leaders from around the world condemning the attacks and supporting Israel.

Hamas is a terrorist organization backed by Iran that explicitly seeks Israel’s destruction—a goal laid out in its charter and reiterated by its leaders—and seeks to rule the entire territory “from the river to the sea.”

Since its formation in 1987, Hamas has consistently stood in the way of peace and acted as a spoiler to achieve a two-state solution. This latest attack serves as a reminder of Hamas's brutal track record of terrorism, human rights violations, and repression.

Purposely killing and kidnapping innocent civilians are war crimes. These are not freedom fighters, they are terrorists.

The United States and European Union classify Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization, alongside groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda.

In response to the attack, Israel’s cabinet has declared a war to defend its sovereignty and its citizens.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Israel does and will do everything possible to prevent harm to non-involved people, but the terrorist organizations knowingly operate from within the civilian population, committing double war crimes indiscriminately shooting at civilians, while using the residents of the Gaza Strip as human shields.”

Jewish Federations are responding, working with our core partners to support victims of terror, help rebuild damaged infrastructure, and address the immense levels of trauma caused by this horrific attack. 

Jewish Federations’ abiding support through our annual campaigns make it possible for our primary partners The Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and World ORT to respond immediately when emergencies like this take place. Our emergency fund, which has raised over $388 million of its initial $500 million goal, is directing additional resources for this critical moment.

Already, Jewish Federations have allocated over $70 million to 45 organizations providing emergency relief and support in Israel, including the Jewish Agency for Israel, JDC, World ORT, Israel Trauma Coalition, United Hatzalah, Magen David Adom, ZAKA, Barzilai Medical Center, and the Soroka Medical Center.

These funds are being put to a slew of immediate and urgent needs, such as medical care, emergency services, evacuation, transport, housing, supporting victims of terror, trauma relief and psychological support, as well as preparing for medium- and long-term needs.

Jewish Federations have held over 120 solidarity gatherings across North America, sent tens of thousands of messages to elected officials, and engaged thousands of Jewish leaders with updates from the field. We will continue to work across communities and party lines to ensure the strongest possible support for Israel in her hour of need.

The Jewish Agency’s Fund for Victims of Terror (FVOT) is often the first non-medical responder for families and individuals who have been impacted by acts of terror and violence, providing immediate grants to rebuild homes damaged by rocket fire, and providing for long-term rehabilitation and post-trauma care.  

The Jewish Agency is part of the government's emergency roundtable and is ensuring the safety of thousands of Olim in dozens of absorption centers, caring for the thousands of residents in Amigour senior housing, and is in touch with the thousands of Masa participants, and participants in the Agency’s pre-army academies and youth villages.

JDC is providing support to those in the line of fire, including elderly, people with disabilities, children and families at risk, and other vulnerable populations adversely impacted during this war and in past conflicts.

The Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) is working closely with the IDF’s Home Front Command and local authorities to help address immediate needs and will be sharing a situational assessment shortly.

What you can do

  • Share Your Voice: Post on social media, stay up-to-date on the talking points, and keep your community informed. 
  • Donate: Jewish Federations have opened a fund to support Israel. PLEASE DONATE HERE 
  • Advocate: Tell your federal, state, and local elected officials and representatives to support Israel:

Use the forms linked here to contact your representative:




 In addition to sending letters, we strongly encourage you to pick up the phone and call your congressional office. The situation is urgent, and we need you to act! 


  • Urge Social Media Platforms to Follow Better Content Moderation Practices Related to the Crisis in Israel CLICK HERE
  • Wear a #BlueRibbonsforIsrael: Communities and leaders across North America are wearing their blue ribbons in solidarity with the hostages taken by Hamas in Israel and their families. Learn more and get your blue ribbon at


Update as of Oct. 23, 2023

  • 1,400+ Israelis killed, including 31 US citizens (13+ missing). 
  • 4,000+ Israelis wounded.
  • 224 Israelis confirmed kidnapped – men, woman, babies, toddlers, children and teens. 
  • 8,000 + rockets launched into Israel from Gaza, with more from Lebanon and Syria.
  • 125,000 Israelis displaced from their homes. 
  • Jewish people report experiencing PTSD from the Holocaust. Not in comparison to the number of dead but the brutality of Hamas.  
  • Medical first responders report how Hamas terrorists tortured families, including young children, before murdering them. The bodies they found had gouged eyes and fingers cut off. 
  • Rabbis and IDF officials responsible for identifying the dead said that many bodies showed signs of torture and rape, dismembered bodies with their arms and feet chopped off, people were beheaded —and worse.
  • Hamas shot entire families in their homes, took civilians hostage, burned down homes, and stalked innocents fleeing for their lives. 
  • Holocaust survivors, the elderly, and young children are among the casualties and hostages, as were dozens of Arab Israelis.
  • 40 babies were killed — many decapitated. 
  • A Hamas prisoner was asked why they took the babies and children. His answer was to rape them.
  • On October 17, 2023, without verification, all major news outlets published stories blaming Israel for bombing a hospital, allegedly killing 500 Palestinians. Independent sources have since confirmed that a Palestinian Jihad rocket misfired and hit the parking lot of the hospital with reports of 10-50 dead. The hospital is intact. Most news agencies and members of Congress who shared the false story on social media did not issue a retraction. 
  • On many college campuses, student groups are supporting Hamas, blaming Israel for the massacre against its own people. Leadership at many universities has neither condemned Hamas nor intervened as Jewish students are being intimidated and threatened.
  • In multiple states, including but not limited to New York and Florida, people are taking down flyers with photos of kidnapped children, saying it is fake news. 

More About the Palestinians

  • Many Palestinian people want to live in peace with their neighbors in Israel. Every innocent life lost is a tragedy.
  • Hamas, elected by the people of Gaza, is the authority in charge and responsible for the well-being of its citizens, including providing water, electricity, schools, hospitals and even bomb shelters to protect Palestinians from the wars it starts. 
  • Hamas is blocking evacuation routes telling all civilians to return to their homes to be used as human shields; Hamas is taking Palestinians' car keys, preventing them from fleeing areas Israel has advised them to leave in advance of strikes aginst Hamas military targets located in residential areas and near places where they worship, go to school, obtain medical care, and more.  
  • Hamas has militarized cities and neighborhoods in Gaza, using schools, hospitals and mosques as storehouses for ammunition aimed at destroying Israel. 
  • Hamas has stolen billions of dollars over the years meant to develop Gaza.
  • Hamas is now stealing fuel provided by international aid intended for generators and medical supplies for hospitals. Hamas is hiding the fuel to use for attacks on Israel.
  • The regime has diverted large quantities of provisions and aid for military and terror purposes, while its leadership takes urgent resources for themselves. 
  • Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005. Not one Israeli lives there.
  • Israel is under no obligation to provide electricity or water to Gaza, however it has been doing so since 1967.
  • Israel is not required to allow Palestinians to cross from Gaza to work in Israel – which it does – and paid the price for that: the international community has learned that many of these workers provided accurate intelligence to Hamas for its Oct. 7 attack, including which houses had children.
  • 550 Hamas rockets meant to kill Israelis have fallen short into Gaza, killing Palestinian people. 
  • Israel is warning civilians before striking Hamas targets.   
  • Neither Egypt nor 21 of the other Arab countries in the region has opened its borders to allow Palestinians in.  

Like every country, Israel has the right to defend its sovereignty and its citizens from terrorism, rocket fire, and incursions. Self-defense is a human right recognized under international law.

Israel is not at war with Islam.

Israel is not at war with the Palestinian people. 

For the sake of its survival and for all humanity, Israel is at war with Hamas.   



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