During 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, launched by Israel to stop the barrage of rocket attacks from terrorists in Gaza, officials at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon (located eight miles north of Gaza) faced the challenge of keeping their patients healthy and safe in an unprotected building. They felt this challenge event more acutely after a rocket exploded on their grounds. They were especially concerned about the pregnant women bringing new life into the world in their unfortified maternity ward.
Then Minister of Home Front Defense Avi Dichter brought this challenge to the attention of The Fellowship and we immediately agreed to provide the funds necessary to have the maternity ward fortified to withstand rocket attacks. This work was recently completed, and Rabbi Eckstein attended a ceremony to commemorate this lifesaving project.
At the ceremony, Rabbi Eckstein described watching the dedicated hospital staff continuing its daily routine with courage during Operation Protective Edge while brave women were giving birth in the basement of the hospital. He said this was one of the most important of The Fellowship’s projects in strengthening the home front for times of emergency.
"I hope that we will not need the fortification," he said, "but in Israel we always have to be prepared for any situation and I feel privileged to be in a position that makes it possible to save lives together with you. We are with you in times of routine and times of emergency, and together we will develop this region without letting terror hold us back even for a minute."
A Special Delivery
When 28-year-old Liron found out she was expecting a baby, she smiled with joy and felt peace in her heart. But the hundreds of terrorist-fired rockets falling around her house daily during her pregnancy caused Liron panic and fear. “I would pray to make it into my bomb shelter on time,” Liron said. “But I was nine months pregnant and moved slowly.”
When Liron felt her first contractions, she and her husband worried they might not make it to the delivery room alive.
“We were both scared to drive to the Barzilai hospital,” Liron said. “There were rockets falling everywhere, and we had a 20 minute drive.” On the way to the hospital, another code red siren blared with each contraction, followed by the loud boom of a rocket falling. After what felt like an eternity, Liron and her husband arrived at Barzilai Medical Center only to find out that they had no shelter protecting the labor and delivery or neonatal intensive care unit.
Hospital attendants rushed Liron into the only safe place for her in the hospital – a tiny bomb shelter the size of a broom closet – so she could give birth.
While Liron welcomed a beautiful and healthy baby that day, The Fellowship immediately made plans to protect Barzilai hospital. Today, thanks to your generosity, patients and staff members at Barzilai will never have to worry about rockets while they deliver babies in the maternity wing. Thanks to your loving support, this area of the hospital is now fortified, which promises a safe and happy childbirth for all expectant mothers who arrive through the doors of Barzilai!