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March 7, 2024

ITC update: Operation Iron Swords

ITC updates are now sent weekly on a Thursday.
Day 153
Thursday 7.3.24

The number of IDF soldiers killed since the start of the ground op has risen to 247.

Saturday night, thousands of people rallied in Jerusalem following a four-day march in support of the hostages’ return. Led by the families of the kidnapped, demonstrators completed a trek from Kibbutz Re’im to Jerusalem’s Paris Square. Organizers led the crowd in counting to 148, the number of days that have passed with Israeli hostages in rally calling for the return of the hostages.
After what had initially appeared to be promising progress in negotiations, reports continue to suggest that the Qatari-mediated negotiations between Israel and Hamas have come to an impasse.

Rally in downtown Jerusalem, March 2, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Schools in Sderot reopened on Sunday after five months of war. Officials announced 55-60% of K-12 in attendance with 200 soldiers helping to secure streets. The decision to reopen Sderot’s schools has been a crucial factor for many in deciding to return; but some residents still fear going home. In fact, on the day children returned to school a red alert sounded. Under a new repopulation plan, the 60,000+ evacuees from the south may remain in hotels until July 1, but those who do will lose 87% of the full grant sum.

In their recent report, the Israel National Council for the Child in Jerusalem, an Israeli independent non-profit non-governmental organization that advocates for children’s rights and well-being states that a total of 19,407 children have been recognized by the National Insurance Institute as victims of hostilities since the outbreak of the war through February 28, with about 37% of them (or 7,257 children) under the age of 6. 38 children were killed, 20 orphaned on Oct. 7. Three of those children were under the age of three, and four were aged 3-6. In addition, 42 children were abducted to the Gaza Strip by Hamas and other terrorist organizations, nine of them under the age of five. Forty of them were released during a temporary ceasefire last November. Two of the children kidnapped on October 7 — Kfir and Ariel Bibas— remain in Gaza.

Southern Front: Saturday March 2nd, four long-range rockets were fired from the Strip at the Hatzerim region near Beersheba, landing in open areas, causing no injuries.

Northern Front: Rockets were fired on Sunday from Lebanon towards the northern Israeli towns of Metula, Ghajar and Malkiyeh. One person, a foreign worker recently arrived from India, was killed, and seven others wounded in an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon that struck an orchard near the border community of Margaliot. Tuesday evening saw over 30 rockets fired at Kiryat Shmona. Thursday morning, 10 rockets were fired from Lebanon at the northern community of Rosh Hanikra. Nine of the projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, with the tenth hitting an open area.

ITC on the Ground

A special ITC project circulating on social media highlights individual, familial, and community strengths through informative videos. Various responses underscore the significance of what keeps individuals safe, emphasizing family, faith, and a belief in a better future. Tips shared by respondents emphasize maintaining routines and focusing on controllable factors. Reading others’ perspectives reinforces inner resilience. Vered Amitzi, Director of Content Development and Research at ITC, stresses the role of strong social networks, community organizations, and personal resilience in fostering unity, accessing resources, and promoting well-being.

One contributor summed it up perfectly when she wrote “I noticed that what keeps everyone together is their concern for someone else: the soldiers protect the citizens, the mother her children, the grandmother her grandchildren, etc… When we care for others, that’s what keeps us strong… If we want to be strong, we all have to take care of each other.”

Bright spot

instructor with displaced children in the technology lab. Photo courtesy of Machshava Tova.

Evacuee Israeli children are learning in a new mobile tech lab provided by the non-profit organization Machshava Tova (a “good thought” and a play on words as machshev is computer in Hebrew).  As reported in Israel 21C, Machshava Tova with support from Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston’s Israel Emergency Fund, Machshava Tova purchased computers, projectors, 3D printers, VR goggles and other equipment for the lab and provides instructors and online technology courses. Once the displaced families can return home, the equipment will be donated to the Sderot school system.

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