December 21, 2023

ITC update: Operation Iron Swords

ITC updates are now sent weekly on a Thursday.
Day 76
Thursday 21.12.23

In an unbearable tragedy, on Friday 15th December, Israel Defense Force troops mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages in northern Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood as a threat and opened fire at them, killing them. New protocols for identifying hostages were transferred to ground forces, to do everything to prevent another tragic event like this.

Hours earlier, several rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh area, in the first barrage on the capital in over a month. On Monday, a 27-year-old woman was wounded in an attack and taken to hospital in stable condition.  A man and a six-week-old baby were also in the vehicle hit by gunfire but were thankfully unharmed. Tuesday, a rocket barrage was fired at central Israel. Warning sirens sounded in southern Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Bat Yam, Rishon Lezion, Kfar Chabad and Beit Dagan.

IDF announced the death of IDF soldiers killed in Gaza fighting, bringing ground offensive toll to 134. In parallel to the fighting, renewed efforts to reach another deal to release more of the hostages continues. There remain an estimated 129 Israelis still held captive by Hamas and other groups inside Gaza.

Hamas released its latest video, showing proof of life of three older men: Chaim Peri, Amiram Cooper and Yoram Metzger. The men appeared emaciated, with their beards clipped in Islamic style and reading off a clearly prepared message pleading for their release.  Tuesday evening, this time by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a recording was released of two Israeli hostages: Gadi Mozes, 79, and Elad Katzir, 47, who were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz. These videos are the latest example of on-going, cruel psychological warfare.

Southern Front: Rockets continue to be fired from Gaza at southern Israel and Gaza border communities. A man was seriously injured, in an explosion in Ashkelon, he had touched a part of an intercepted rocket, causing the blast. Police are reminding the public that they should never touch, pick up or move any part of a rocket or unidentified object that they find, as it may contain explosive materials.

Northern Front: Hezbollah has kept up a persistent level of attacks across the length of the Israel-Lebanon border. Sunday, Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile that hit Kibbutz Sasa. Monday, six rockets landed in uninhabited areas including inside the town of Kiryat Shmona. In addition, three rockets fired towards Israel from Syria fell in open areas in the Golan Heights.

Underlying and sadly highlighting the incredible stress teams/caregivers are under, a recent report of an IDF officer assigned to delivering bad news and arranging funerals nearly died after her own heart gave way. Following weeks of notifying families of fallen loved ones, and non-stop burials, Sivan Sekeli Ben Zichri suffered cardiac arrest caused by tear in heart artery. With one funeral following another, there was no time to process. “My heart literally broke from psychological stress. It’s not just me saying it. My cardiologists also say that is what happened,” she said. Thankfully, she is on her way to what she and her doctors hope will be a full recovery.

ITC on the Ground

Healing Space project: As part of widening the therapeutic toolbox, ITC has developed workshops designed to develop and refresh coping resources, to stabilize breathing, physical coping and to create a healing space. This program brings a complementary holistic system to the existing clinical response in the field. The goal is to provide an experiential experience using a variety of methods for the body and mind, including workshops in shiatsu, mindfulness, V.R, water therapy, playback theatre, NLP, yoga, and a variety of creative workshops.

To date 183 workshops have been held at hotels in the Dead Sea. In many classes, participants were challenged to improve their coordination, classes such as African dance and movement were very physical, in the words of one participant there was “lots of sweating and panting” but it was also “most important for my soul”. 

Firefighters:  Starting from October 8th to date, ITC facilitators conducted initial processing sessions, sharing, guidance and tools for positive coping for firefighter teams. Every week, a renewed assessment of needs and forces was conducted for the purpose of determining the stations for intervention. Meetings were held face-to-face, for two hours, by expert facilitators in the field of trauma, resilience, and team retention. Facilitators spoke with the teams also about loss and grief during the unfolding of an ongoing emergency.  By all accounts, the feelings of helplessness that arose in meetings were powerful and difficult, and the facilitators led many team discussions on mutual support, regaining a sense of control, and on initial processing.

Issues of survivor’s guilt also arose. Painful questions such as How can I continue my life as usual when so many died? insecurity about life in general, “will we ever go back to normal life?” “Will I ever stop crying?” In many cases there is a complex background involved, including past traumas, that combined and layered with the current situation causes an even more traumatic reaction.

A bright spot: Young Olim contributing to resilience efforts.

(photo credit: NEFESH B’NEFESH)

Ten young olim (immigrants to Israel) from English-speaking countries have been recognized for making exceptional contributions to strengthen the State of during the War. These Olim ranging in age between 11-18, have made Aliyah with their families from around the world and have settled in communities throughout Israel. Since the beginning of the war, they have taken it upon themselves to help supply food for soldiers, fundraised for supplies, vests, boots, blankets and provided a variety of babysitting services for children with parents serving in the army.

Thanks for all your support. We will keep you updated.

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Also available by phone: 02-6722618 and email

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