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Code Red strikes as U.S. Jewish leaders visit

JERUSALEM (JTA) — American Jewish leaders on a solidarity mission to southern Israel were forced into a protected room during a Code Red alert.

A delegation of 28 senior national leaders of the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization representing Jewish federations and communities across North America, had arrived in Israel Sunday evening for a 24-hour mission.

During the alert Monday while visiting Ashkelon, the group made it to a protected room before the rocket struck a home nearby. The leaders visited the home about an hour after the attack and said they were amazed to see that repair work had started.

"I think it has been very moving for all of us," Joe Kanfer, the chair of the UJC board of trustees, told JTA. "We are aware of what Israelis have been living with for eight years," he said, referring to the rocket attacks.

The group announced a UJC pledge of $10 million for emergency assistance to the towns and cities under attack in southern Israel. The UJA-Federation of New York  already wired $2 million in response to urgent needs.

An American Jewish Committee solidarity mission announced Monday $50,000 in humanitarian assistance from its Heilbrunn Humanitarian Fund for southern communities. Half of the money will provide three motorized carts required to transport the elderly and the disabled to emergency shelters, to the Sha’ar Hanegev region on Gaza’s northeastern border, and the other half will go for equipment for Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, the major trauma center for injuries sustained during the Gaza conflict.

The 20-member mission visited Barzilai and the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, meeting victims, soldiers and emergency personnel.

"Throughout this conflict, as always, Israel has demonstrated its exceptional resilience, compassion and love of life, even as it confronts an enemy that glorifies death," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "We are proud to show our support, and hope our contributions will assist the effort to save and protect lives."

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