January 2, 2009

Situation Update: Israel's Southern Conflict Zone

JDC At Work - January 1, 2009

Map of Conflict Region -Click on the map to enlarge

Breaking news:
The government of Israel’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services has launched, in partnership with JDC, an emergency plan for all elderly and disabled within 40 kilometers of current missile range in the South. The immediate effort will be supported in cooperation with JDC, currently planned for 3 months. The program will include:

  • One fulltime caseworker for every 120 elderly and disabled. This person will be responsible for establishing daily contact, troubleshooting and problem solving all outstanding needs among this vulnerable population.
  • Providing post trauma and stress relief sessions for elderly and their caregivers
  • Organizing short vacations for those in conflict zone
  • A welfare information hotline

Through JDC's citywide intervention programs in the town of Kiryat Gat, we are preparing emergency operations and activities for children in the event that schools will be closed for an extended period of time.

The Sderot Community Center, which caters to a large population of immigrants from Ethiopia, is now fully operational from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm every day.

Mapping of shelters: Assessing what equipment is needed, any repairs or problems, etc. and sending that information to the municipality to ensure all public shelters are ready.

Organizing groups of children to visit Kibbutz Ruchama, located east of Sderot, for “fun days” away from the stress of the conflict.

Due to the extended closing of schools in the region, JDC is helping to facilitate trips to the north of the country for hundreds of children from conflict zone.

In cooperation with the government, JDC is hiring full time case managers to assist elderly and disabled persons within the 40 km (approximately 24-25 miles) missile zone. Based on JDC’s supportive community for the elderly model, each case manager will be directly responsible for all disabled and elderly community members within a certain area of the 40 km zone. Their job will be to visit, reach out, and problem solve for all outstanding needs among these two vulnerable populations.

Outstanding Needs among Ethiopian-Israeli families in Sderot:

  • Supplies for community bomb shelters (toilet paper, games for children, etc.)
  • Providing a team of psychologists to work with children and youth
  • Constant contact with families to calm them and assess needs that arise
  • Opening ‘safe rooms’ to staff and residents who do not have a protected space in their own homes
  • Mobilizing Ethiopian-Israeli liaisons to translate emergency instructions into Amharic (the native language of the Ethiopian-Israeli community)

JDC’s Centers for Young Adults in the region:

  • The Center for Young Adults in Ashdod is actively enlisting volunteers to assist in various capacities throughout the city
  • The staff of the Center for Young Adults in Netivot has transformed their main offices into a ‘Situation Room’ for coordination with Israel Defense Forces, police and the municipality

(Centers for Young Adults serve as a central platform for launching projects to help young immigrants. Centers provide a wide range of counseling and orientation services under one roof, including guidance regarding higher education and vocational training; job skills and life skills.)

People with Disabilities:

  • Distribution of 15 disabled-accessible portable toilet systems for shelters in Sderot – this system was developed by JDC, based on a needs assessment conducted after the Second Lebanon War
  • Supportive Communities for the Disabled in Sderot – The Community Coordinator position was extended from part-time to full-time to ensure members’ needs are met
  • In Sderot, disabled community members are benefiting from 400 emergency lights that were distributed several months ago

Youth Volunteer Corps (AMEN program):
Youth in the north of Israel are organizing activities for their peers in the South including care packages, games, and facilitating direct shipping to children across the region

For more information, please contact ambassadors@jdc.org or go to the JDC website, www.jdc.org.

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