The Heartbreaking Reality in Southern Israel

July 28, 2014

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Dear Friends of The Fellowship,

Last week I traveled to southern Israel to stand in solidarity with communities that are getting the brunt of the rocket fire from Hamas terrorists in Gaza. I went to get an update on the urgent needs, assess our current response, and to witness firsthand the damage from rocket attacks. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have already mobilized hundreds of volunteers and provided emergency aid to help this embattled region. But as the rockets continue to fall, and the population continues to live in danger and fear, I know there is more to be done.

My first stop was Be’er Sheva, where I met with the mayor to learn how The Fellowship can be of further assistance during this crisis. He confirmed what I have seen all around me: children and elderly are traumatized by the constant rocket fire and desperately need some time away from the code red sirens.

I met with one family who has been living in a shelter for the past two weeks. The children are too afraid to leave this protected space because the code red sirens sound several times a day in their neighbourhood. This family has decorated the walls of the shelter and are trying to make it feel like home.

But it breaks my heart because no one should have to live like this.

I met with some of the hundreds of volunteers who are delivering The Fellowship’s aid, mostly young people who are, quite literally, risking death to bring comfort and food packages to homebound elderly. The volunteers are tired, but upbeat and happy – they know they are making a difference to Israelis in one of the country’s darkest hours. I visited the elderly, and listened to their fear. And I want to reach even more homebound elderly who cannot get out of the line of fire.

I then went to an army camp. I can’t talk too much about it, but I met with soldiers who were going into Gaza. I prayed with them, and blessed each of them as they left.

And I want to address what is in my heart and why standing with Israel right now is so desperately important.

As I write this, in the past week alone, 723 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza, and 149 of them were intercepted by Israel’s powerful defensive protection Iron Dome. Hamas has rejected three ceasefires and the terrorists continue to threaten that they will destroy Israel. What all of Israel is talking about, is the fact that since the crisis began, our brave soldiers have found 31 terror tunnels with over 60 access points from Gaza that lead deep into Israel.

My friends, this is not just a ground operation to stop the relentless rocket attacks – our soldiers are protecting our communities from what we now know was a ruthlessly planned massacre of thousands of Israelis.

So as Israel defends her people, as her soldiers fight tirelessly to stop brutally schemed bloodshed, I ask you to join me in prayer. Please pray for the families living in bomb shelters and children too scared to play. Please pray for the homebound elderly who feel abandoned, desperately lonely and terrorized by sirens knowing they cannot get to safety. Please pray for our men and women, soldiers and volunteers, who put themselves in harm’s way for the protection of our people. Please pray that peace will come soon to the Holy Land and her people who only want to live in peace.

And I pray for blessings upon you, my friends, for your generous support that has allowed us to assist thousands in war-torn southern Israel. Now is the time to act. And you are allowing us to do that. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
President and Founder, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews® of Canada


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