International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Approves $5M in Emergency Humanitarian Aid for Distribution Throughout Israel Following Devastating Hamas Attacks
October 8, 2023
Israel’s largest provider of humanitarian aid prepares for influx of needs as Israel declares war on terrorist group
JERUSALEM (October 8, 2023) — In the hours following the massive and vicious attacks by Hamas terrorists on southern Israel in the early hours of Saturday morning October 7, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) began planning its humanitarian aid response efforts as the IDF carries out Operation Swords of Iron, its retaliatory strikes in the Gaza Strip. More than 2,000 rockets were fired at Israel and hundreds of people were killed during the first day of conflict, with thousands more reported wounded and/or kidnapped.
The attacks, which happened by land, air, and sea, took the country by surprise as they came during Shabbat (the Sabbath), and at the end of the Sukkot holiday—specifically, on the observance of Simchat Torah—are something the Fellowship has been preparing for by working closely with its partners on the ground, given recent tensions throughout the country with Hamas and Hezbollah.
Yael Eckstein, President and CEO of The Fellowship, said, “This is Israel’s 9/11. We still don’t know everything that is going on or the extent, but we know it is unprecedented. This was a shock to all of us in Israel. It raises disturbing memories of the Yom Kippur War, which started on almost this exact date 50 years ago. Right now, we are looking at what will happen in the north, as Hezbollah engages with artillery and rocket fire with Israel forces. How much this will escalate could magnify the crisis to an even greater degree.”
Bishop Paul Francis Lanier, U.S. Board Chairman of the Fellowship, also condemned the attacks, saying, “The Fellowship has watched in horror and outrage at the unconscionable violation of Israeli sovereignty, as Hamas invaded sacred space, murdered innocent lives, assaulted families, and kidnapped Jewish people, all within the shadow of the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war. As then, Israel will prevail, as this ministry provides ‘boots on the ground’ of help, healing, and hope.”
Despite challenges communicating with security officials in the south due to the active fighting, The Fellowship is currently supporting evacuees from Gaza, as well as local municipalities and first responders in need of simple basic tools like flak jackets and flashlights.
The Fellowship has set up an Emergency Response Center in Ramle, Israel where families who are looking to locate missing loved ones can meet to work with local authorities. Additionally, on Sunday morning, The Fellowship distributed hundreds of hot meals to soldiers along the northern border, via Beit Batia soup kitchen and the fortified vehicle donated by the Fellowship in recent months.
The organization expects to begin receiving a large volume of requests for aid in the south in the coming days, and has systems in place to quickly and efficiently respond to those requests. The organization will focus its efforts on assistance for evacuees in southern towns, assisting first responders and local volunteers throughout the region via medical kits and mental health/trauma support, as well as supporting beneficiaries of Fellowship programs.
Yael Eckstein added, “In less than 24 hours, our team on the ground conducted immediate assessments of incoming needs, and are already distributing aid. We will look at what we can order (and then distribute) quickly within a week, and what needs we can identify that can be provided in coming months as a result of this war.”
The organization is also on the front lines in northern Israel, acting swiftly to fulfill any security needs. This includes supplying more bomb shelters, ambulances, and additional food and medicine for bomb shelters, as well as being in touch with Israel’s Homefront Command and Ministry of Welfare, the IDF, the FIDF, and local councils across the region.
The Fellowship, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2023, is the largest provider of humanitarian aid in Israel and supports needy populations through a variety of projects and initiatives, aimed at strengthening the country’s security and civilian homeland defense, immigration, and poverty relief. Among its many security projects, The Fellowship has supported the purchase of fortified vehicles and hundreds of first responder medical kits, helped establish sheltered emergency department in the French Hospital in Nazareth, and helped fortify the NICU and MRI Units at Barzilai Medical Center in the southern city of Ashkelon, which suffered a direct hit in Saturday’s attack.