December 29, 2008

Situation Update from Steve Schwager, CEO - Israel's Southern Conflict Zone

December 29, 2008:
On Friday, December 19, 2008, Hamas significantly escalated its rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel. More than 100,000 Israelis are living with the daily terror that strikes with the warning sirens they hear in Sderot, Ashkelon, Netivot, and the Gaza border region.

This past Saturday, December 27, 2008, Israel launched an attack in the Gaza strip and the violence against Israeli communities in the region has significantly intensified. I want to share how we are preparing to expand current projects or launch new comprehensive emergency programs to deliver the help and relief needed by the most vulnerable populations during this conflict -- the elderly, those with disabilities, children and new immigrants.

Presently, our response will focus on immediate trauma response, municipal crisis management preparation and training, and temporary respite outside the region for the most vulnerable populations.

In the past two days, JDC was informed of an increasing number of people and municipalities in need of urgent assistance. Given the current reality with a widened area now in the fire zone, there is a need, among other key programs, to expand JDC's ongoing emergency-response consultation to additional local municipalities charged with caring for their residents.

As always, JDC is coordinated with the United Jewish Communities (UJC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). We are already working in the field in close partnership with the Government of Israel -- reaching out to meet the urgent needs which have emerged as a result of this crisis. Emergency programs for communities in the southern Israel were developed and implemented through UJC/IEC funding.

For many years we have helped the region's communities to cope with the constant attacks by providing support to the most vulnerable people -- and by working to enhance the capacity of local governments and NGOs to assist these populations. JDC further developed its expertise in providing emergency respite and trauma relief programs for vulnerable Israelis during and after the Second Lebanon War.

We will keep you informed of the situation. Updates will be posted on the JDC website ( as well.

We pray that this crisis will end quickly and that peace will prevail.


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