(JTA) — The Jewish Federations of North America committed $5 million for an Israeli terrorism relief fund to help Israeli victims of the conflict with Hamas in Israel’s South.
The money from the federation umbrella organization will go toward trauma counseling, financial assistance, portable bomb shelters and the transport of children in the conflict zone out of harm’s way. The organization has set up a texting system to donate to the Jewish Agency’s Fund for the Victims of Terror in Israel (text ISRAEL to 51818) and said that 100 percent of the money raised will go toward aid. The group is also working with its partner agencies in Israel, including the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Israel Trauma Coalition and World ORT to assist Israelis in the line of fire.
The $5 million includes $1 million from Chicago’s Jewish United Fund; Chicagoans who want to donate can contribute at http://www.juf.org/relief_fund/itr.aspx.
“Once again, innocent civilians are the intended targets of terrorists bent on the destruction of Israel,” JUF President Steven Nasatir said in a statement. “And once again, as we have so often in the past, Chicago’s Jewish community is responding immediately to meet the many needs created by these attacks and to show the tremendous bond we have with our brethren.”
A group of federation leaders is set to travel to Israel in the coming days to assess the needs on the ground and see firsthand the work of partner agencies.
The Jewish Agency for Israel on Saturday night announced that it will take thousands of children and teenagers from southern communities for respite out of rocket range, in coordination with the National Emergency Authority and the local authorities. It also has planned other respite activities for later in the week through the Jewish Federations of North America.
The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for Victims of Terror is distributing emergency grants to residents who were injured or whose houses were damaged by rocket fire to help residents with their initial recovery after an attack. In the past few days, representatives of the fund have visited the homes of families who have suffered from rocket fire and distributed the emergency funds.
The announcements come as fighting between Israel and Hamas has intensified with Israel’s launch of Operation Pillar of Defense, meant to bring quell the rocket fire into southern Israel and deal a significant blow to Hamas’ rocket capabilities in the Gaza Strip.
Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, on Saturday said that the assistance provided by the Jewish Federations of North America is a demonstration of the solidarity that Jews around the world feel with the residents of southern Israel.