JNF to offer Israeli children living near Gaza respite

November 16, 2012 Agencies
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A decision has been made not to bus Israeli children leaving near Gaza out of the area as that would produce exposure tot the rockets…but JNF are preparing to offer respite for them in facilities partly funded by the Australian Jewish community…and the JNF’s Beersheba office has been damaged as a result of a rocket attack.

Children running for shelter

On the second day of Pillar of Defense, the Israel Defense Forces’ military operation in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli home front suffered a grave blow when three people were killed this morning (Thursday, November 15th, 2012) by a rocket that hit two buildings in the town of Kiryat Malachi. Rocket salvos were also fired at Ashdod, where a residential building was directly hit – fortunately with no casualties.

Over 110 rockets have been launched at Israel since the military operation began yesterday with the targeted killing of Hamas’ chief of staff Ahmad al-Jaabari. Classrooms in Ofakim were damaged when a school sustained a direct hit, and additional salvos were fired at Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gan Yavne and Beersheba. A proportion of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.

Daniel Gigi, Director of KKL-JNF’s Southern Negev and Arava Region, reported by telephone that the KKL-JNF offices in Beersheba had been damaged in a blast caused by a missile that fell nearby. The building’s watchman sustained no injury, thanks to the portable bomb shelter in the courtyard, which was donated by KKL-JNF’s Friends in Canada.

Hole by KKL-JNF Beersheva Office caused by rocket. Photo: Dani Gigi

Life in Israel’s southern communities today is constantly interrupted by air-raid warnings, and the local population has been asked to be attentive to all instructions issued by the Home Front Command. Daniel Gigi and Elisha Mizrahi, Director of KKL-JNF’s Northern and Western Negev Region, report that KKL-JNF staff members are acting in accordance with Home Front Command directives, and many of them are staying at home with their families, close to the domestic protected area.

Work is proceeding on a limited scale, and in these areas, KKL-JNF workers have been equipped with helmets and protective vests. No work is being performed in Gaza periphery communities located less than seven kilometers from Gaza, nor in those communities where a protective facility cannot be reached within just a few seconds. In regions over 40 kilometers distant from Gaza, such as Yatir, Meitar, Hiran and Lahav, work continues as usual.

KKL-JNF’s southern regions are on fire-prevention alert, in case missiles falling in open ground cause blazes that prove difficult to control. Fortunately, as the ground is still damp after the recent heavy rainfall, fires are not too liable to spread.

KKL-JNF security road. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
KKL-JNF’s management, in conjunction with the organization’s Education and Youth Division, has decided to open the Nes Harim field center for the benefit of KKL-JNF workers and their families who live within range of the Gaza rockets. In similar circumstances in the past, such as Operation Cast Lead, groups of schoolchildren and young people from the Gaza periphery were hosted at Nes Harim by KKL-JNF, in order to give them a few days’ respite from the shooting. Funding was provided by KKL-JNF’s Friends worldwide, including Australia and the USA.

Past experience has shown that it would be highly inadvisable to remove children at present from the protected facilities within the firing zone, because the bus journeys involved would expose them to much greater danger. As soon as the situation calms down a little, children will be invited to enjoy a few days’ enjoyable activity and respite from the war situation in which they find themselves at present.


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