The following update was issued today by Jewish Federations of North America's Rebecca Caspi, Senior Vice President Israel and Overseas and Director General, Israel Office
A shaky unofficial ceasefire marred by intermittent rocket launches seems to be holding in Israel after two days of massive rocket fire against Israeli targets, which themselves followed Israeli Defense Forces’ attacks against terrorist leaders and infrastructure in Gaza.
Since Operation Shield and Arrow was launched on Tuesday morning, some 500 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel. Over 100 of these failed to cross the border into Israel and fell in Palestinian territory. Approximately 150 were intercepted by the Iron Dome rocket defense system. In addition, one rocket was intercepted by the newly developed David’s Sling, an advanced missile defense mechanism jointly developed by Israel and the United States. This was the first time that David’s Sling, which costs around $1 million per firing and which was designed to intercept longer-range, more powerful and more advanced rockets (such as those that could potentially be shot from Iran) has been used in a live combat situation. For more details about the strikes, see this infographic from the IDF.
Despite the massive rocket fire, no deaths were reported in Israel, although 32 people were treated for shock and minor injuries. The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip reports that 25 Palestinians have been killed and 76 others injured since hostilities began on Tuesday morning. Most of these were combatants, including at least four senior commanders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group, with a number of innocent bystanders unfortunately also killed. Israeli government and military spokespeople have expressed deep regret over all civilian casualties and stressed that the IDF takes every possible precaution to avoid such deaths.
For example, this video shows the Israel Air Force aborting a strike at the last moment when a child is spotted near the intended terror target. Israel says that it has carried out strikes against 158 sites belonging to PIJ, including hitting this observation post used to guide rockets, and this rocket manufacturing facility. Ali Ghali, who directed PIJ’s rocket launches, was among the combatants killed in Israeli airstrikes.
A major difference between the current round of strikes and previous fights has been the absence of Hamas from the conflict. Attacks have exclusively involved Israel and PIJ. Some commentators have suggested that this has been a significant factor in the outcome, as you will read in this article.
While no formal cease-fire has been announced, unofficial sources have confirmed that a Egyptian-brokered agreement was reached. According to Palestinian media, the agreement includes a promise by Israel to hand-over the body of Khader Adnan, a senior PIJ member who died in an Israeli prison last month. His lengthy hunger strike was the apparent trigger for this round of fighting.
Since the early hours of this morning, there has only been sporadic rocket fire. According to Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, “From our perspective if they stop firing at us, there’s no reason to continue.” Despite the apparent ceasefire, numerous precautionary restrictions remain in place, particularly for residents of Israel’s south.
Meanwhile, the elderly mother of Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Mrs. Fruma Gallant, passed away early this morning. Mrs. Gallant was a Holocaust survivor who came to Israel on the Exodus ship. Despite his loss, the defense minister is continuing to play a key role in managing the crisis.
Jewish Federations’ partners, including the Jewish Agency for Israel, JDC, and the Israel Trauma Coalition, are addressing the needs on the ground. The Jewish Agency’s Fund for the Victims of Terror is providing grants to five victims, including to a three-year-old boy who sustained a head injury while running to a shelter. They are also helping the residents of four houses damaged by rocket fire and are providing respite outside the conflict zone for families in absorption centers. Please be in touch if you are interested in learning more about supporting these needs.
A total of 112 recently arrived Ethiopian olim who were meant to be housed in the Jewish Agency’s Ibim Absorption Center in the south have been temporarily sent to the Nir Etzion Center in Israel’s north. At the same time, while rocket fire continues, four Masa programs have been moved from the south to the Jerusalem area.
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.