The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee purchased billboard space on North US 41, just north of the Sarasota Airport (SRQ). On the border of Sarasota and Manatee counties, the sign clearly says “We Stand with Israel” along with the Heller Israel Advocacy Initiative logo, (a Star of David that incorporates elements of the American flag). The sign serves to show our unwavering commitment to the the State of Israel and her people – in the face of the ongoing crisis and global anti-Semitism currently happening in Europe, the Middle East and here in the United States. For more about the Heller IAI, visit www.SarasotaLovesIsrael.com
More than 350 people gathered on July 15 at J.D. Hamel Park in downtown Sarasota for a Night of Solidarity for Israel. Dr. Lewis Hanan, co-chair of Federation’s Israel Emergency Committee, described Israel’s defensive efforts against Hamas and the events leading up to it. Amber Ikeman and Jeremy Dictor opened the program in song and the audience was addressed by Rev. Dr. Tom Pfaff, Chairman of the Sarasota Ministerial Association; Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Chabad of Sarasota; and Rabbi Michael Werbow, Temple Beth Sholom. Past Federation President Ian Black had returned from Israel the day before. He shared the experience of hearing a siren and having 15 seconds to run to a bomb shelter. Black saw the Iron Dome take down a rocket sent by Hamas.
The Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church Gospel Choir closed the program which was followed by a candlelit march along the bayfront.
The event was coordinated by The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee (http://www.thejewishfederation.org) and The Heller Israel Advocacy Initiative (http://www.sarasotalovesisrael.com). Special thanks to the event speakers, performers & volunteers; the City of Sarasota; the Sarasota Police Department; and everyone who attended.
Israel has launched Operation Protective Edge in retaliation of ongoing rocket fire. The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee will continue to monitor the situation in coordination with partner agencies.
OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE
Israel’s response to the intense rocket fire from Gaza over the past month, which has been dubbed “Operation Protective Edge” (“Tzuk Eitan” in Hebrew), launched last night. Since Monday morning, over 100 rockets have been fired at Israel. Hamas terrorists in Gaza have claimed responsibility for many of the attacks which are activating “Code Red” sirens deep into central Israel.
WHAT’S BEEN HIT
More than 240 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza since June 12, the day on which the three Israeli teenagers were abducted and murdered. A nursery school was hit (July 3), two factories in Sderot were razed (June 28) and a number of homes and cars have been damaged by other rockets striking open areas. In addition, a terrorist armed with a grenade tried to enter an Israeli village (June 22) and there have been several cross-border attacks.
The projectiles being fired at Israel include a combination of military-grade Grad missiles, locally-made “Kassam” rockets and mortars. Rockets fired can reach over 50 km affecting more than a million Israelis. Here is a map illustrating areas within rocket range and detailing the maximum time available for finding shelter in each location.
Yesterday, Monday, July 7, a farm was destroyed, and staff at the Soroka Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Beer Sheva rushed newborns to a protected area (click links to watch eyewitness video footage of these events). A retirement home in Yavne was also hit, and a large fire broke out in Ashdod when a rocket hit an empty house.
Last night, two Ashdod residents were out sailing when rockets were fired in their direction. This video shows the rockets, the Iron Dome response and their reactions. This short clip shows children running out of a swimming pool to shelter, leaving no room to question the impact of life under fire.
Once again, the preventative measures in place are helping mitigate the situation. As disconcerting as the sound of sirens wailing can be, residents in southern Israel are used to the need to move quickly and have been following the instructions of the military and civilian authorities, rushing to protected rooms and safe areas whenever needed.
These measures, together with the deployment of the highly effective Iron Dome defense system, have kept physical injuries to a minimum (primarily shrapnel wounds and shock), even as psychological and social support services are seeing a big spike in calls to help lines and other requests for assistance. In future updates, we will provide more information on the disruption of daily civilian and economic life.
School vacation started last week. Yet in some locations, children are returning to schools with protected space to which camp programs and other activities have been relocated. The situation for preschoolers is more complicated, as few daycare centers have sheltered space and facilities between 7 and 40 kilometers from Gaza have been closed under orders from the Home Front Command. Farmers tilling fields on the Gaza border have been ordered to stop work due to the threat of sniper fire. Additionally, the Home Front Command has prohibited gatherings of more than 500 people across the affected zone.
Needless to say, all citizens have been instructed to remain close to a shelter at all times. This means intercity traffic is very light and is having a significant impact on local business.
The Israel Air Force struck over 50 targets Monday night across the Gaza Strip, including rocket launchers, a weapon storage facility, training bases, terror tunnels and other key objectives. Some 1,500 IDF reservists were called up for duty yesterday, with breaking news of a further draft of some 40,000 now approved.
Israel continues to deploy the Iron Dome defense system, which is reported to have an 85% success rate against incoming rockets.
Many Israelis across the country, including those living outside the immediate range of the rockets, and Israel supporters abroad have downloaded the ‘tzeva adom’ phone app, which alerts users when a rocket is being fired at Israel. Supporters of Israel are being encouraged to download the app to raise awareness. Social media reports are trending under #israelunderfire and #protectiveedge.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, from the IDF Spokesman’s Bureau, released a statement saying, “In the past weeks, residents of southern Israel were forced into an unbearable reality – a situation they haven’t encountered in these scales since November 2012. In light of these circumstances, the IDF commenced Operation Protective Edge. We are determined to lay a significant blow on Hamas’ terror capabilities and infrastructure, eliminate any threat on Israeli sovereignty emanating from the Gaza Strip and restore stability to the southern region. Terrorists perpetrating the aggression against Israel have a personal price to pay and will bear the consequences of their actions.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “This operation will not be over in a matter of days….We will not tolerate rocket fire over Israel and we are prepared to expand the campaign with every means at our disposal to continue to strike against Hamas. I would like to reinforce the southern residents, mayors and councils who demonstrate leadership and responsibility, helping us to continue the offensive effort.”
As Minister of the Interior Gideon Sa’ar said “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of rockets at Tel Aviv.”
For more information:
YouTube: 15 Seconds: Not Enough Time