For emotional support by ITC organizations Eran – 1201 extension 6 | Natal – 1800-363-363

February 1, 2024

ITC update: Operation Iron Swords

ITC updates are now sent weekly on a Thursday.
Day 118
Thursday 1.2.24

The number of IDF soldiers killed since the start of the ground op has risen to 224.

Joseph Avi Yair Engel, right, whose parents were Holocaust survivors and whose grandson was

released from captivity in Gaza, speaks at rally in Hostages Square in Tel Aviv on January 27, 2024.

(Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

As the world marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, stories of survivors and righteous gentiles, took center stage at the weekly rally in Tel Aviv. Iga Sofiaja Bonkiene recounted in a filmed message how her family had rescued dozens of Jews in Lithuania, risking execution and called on Gazans to do the same. Yehudit Lefner, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor, sent her son Avishai to speak in her stead at the rally. “I am asking Hamas to bring back all the hostages now, when I’m still alive.”

Reports from the Prime Minister’s Office that talks on Sunday initiated by Qatar, the US and Egypt aimed at brokering a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas were “constructive” but meaningful gaps remain. A Hamas delegation is set to meet with Egyptian intelligence head Abbas Kamel in Cairo to discuss the contours of a potential hostage deal.

Hamas launched a barrage of rockets at central Israel on Monday for the first time in over a month, damaging several cars but not causing any injuries. Seven of the 11 rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system, with the remainder landing in open areas, after triggering sirens in Tel Aviv, as well as in surrounding cities, including Rishon Lezion, Holon, and Bat Yam.

Northern Front: Paratrooper and combat engineering forces from the Israeli military carried out intensive training drills at the IDF’s Northern Command in preparation for intense warfare with Hezbollah. Three rockets were fired from Lebanon at Kiryat Shmona on Sunday. Monday, a soldier was seriously wounded in a terror attack in Haifa when a man rammed into him with his vehicle outside a military base in the city. Three rockets were fired out of Syrian territory Tuesday night into the southern Golan Heights and Two anti-tank missiles were also fired at Metulla from Lebanon.

Southern Front: Two rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip at the southern city of Sderot on Sunday. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, while the other landed outside the city, according to the municipality.

ITC on the Ground
Imams serve as prominent religious leaders and spiritual guides within Arab society. The Ministry of the Interior approached ITC to conduct resilience training with this influential leadership group, which holds a significant influence within Arab society.

A total of 12 workshops are scheduled to take place nationwide, with the primary language of instruction being Arabic. These workshops will encompass a range of topics, including effective communication and interpersonal dialogue, emotional-first aid skills, and techniques for self-care. The aim is to engage and instruct a total of 240 imams, providing them with valuable tools and knowledge to enhance their roles as community leaders particularly in times of crisis.

Since the outbreak of the war, ITC partner Selah has been helping new immigrants affected by the war. The challenges following a tragedy are especially difficult for immigrants. The lack of natural support systems of family and life-long friends limited or no financial safety nets, and a sense of uprootedness and isolation all exacerbate their already dire circumstances. Since October 7th Selah has been working around the clock comforting families who lost their beloved ones, visiting wounded people and their families in hospitals, purchasing food and necessities for families who were evacuated from the south to the center.

 Selah has been approached by immigrants from Ethiopia, Russia, Brazil, and English-speaking countries who are experiencing everything from general anxiety, evacuation from their homes to the murder or kidnapping of family members. Whatever they need, they are there to embrace, a shoulder to lean on, to feel they are not alone.

Bright Spot

Israel 21C highlights the story of Israel’s oldest reservist Ezra Yakhin. Ezra fought for the establishment of Israel and is now on a quest to lift the morale of those defending the state in the aftermath of October 7th. Born in 1938 in Mandatory Palestine, Yakhin joined the underground paramilitary Lehi organization aged 16. Following the release of his book, “Story of a fighter for the freedom of Israel,” in the late 1970s, Yakhin began giving lectures. This turned into regular reserve duty. “My goal is to convey to the soldiers the value of our land and our nation, so they know what they’re fighting for,” he explains. “Once in a while someone would ask me if I want to quit, but I sign up for this again and again. I even have a doctor’s note that I am allowed to continue serving,” he laughs.

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