News Update from Israel
News Update from Israel
“Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?” Job 26:14
At the time of this news update, several of the Israeli as well as foreign national hostages have been released from Hamas captivity since Friday evening in exchange for three times as many Palestinian criminals from Israeli prison. The temporary 4-day ceasefire might be extended as Hamas is interested in an additional two days “under the same conditions as the previous agreement.” This would mean that 10 Israeli hostages will be released each extra day that fighting is paused
One Israeli, Yoni Asher, had addressed the European Union several weeks ago on behalf of the hostages and concluded his speech with the “Shma Israel” prayer in front of the entire council! His wife Doron and daughters Raz (4) and Aviv (2) were among the first hostages that were released on Friday evening.
We Are United as a Nation
October 7th is a day Israelis and Jews around the world will never forget. We are living history. The atrocities committed by the terrorists have impacted thousands, and the resulting trauma will most likely accompany the Israelis and Jews living abroad for a very long time, unfortunately. Gaya, one 22-year-old Israeli said: “I cannot grieve the death of my friends now. Only after the war is over. Right now, we need to focus on rescuing the hostages and bringing them back home.”
Despite the rising antisemitism all around the world, a sense of unity has arisen in Israel and most of the Jewish world. No matter the degree of observance – orthodox, secular, left- or right-winged, Jews have rallied together to help the nation as much as they can and support the IDF troops, the families who have been evacuated, and the relatives of those taken hostage.
March and Rally for the Hostages
Thousands gather in Jerusalem to support the families of those taken hostage
Over 100,000 gather in Tel Aviv in support of the hostages and their relatives
Sign (R) held by a daughter of a hostage reads, “I need my Daddy!”
On Saturday evening, commemorating 50 days since the October 7th massacre and the kidnapping of around 240 individuals to the Gaza Strip, an estimated 100,000 Israelis, including relatives of the hostages, gathered at the “Hostages’ Square” in Tel Aviv to rally in support of the hostages Hamas is holding in Gaza. This event followed a 5-day march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last week.
One relative of an Israeli hostage stated: “I still have hope, but each day they are there is a danger for them, for their lives and their souls.” Another Israeli, Uri Goren, whose cousin has been kidnapped by Hamas said in an interview: “We are in this constant state of anxiety and depression, and there is really no change. We don’t know anything new about my cousin, just like the other families. Many of them did get some confirmation, some news. Some of them know their family members went in alive. We don’t even know that. We haven’t received any news.”
Each day is critical and we pray ALL the hostages are returned alive and in stable condition!
Visiting Ground Zero by Gaza
Last week, we were granted special IDF clearance to visit ground zero of the October 7th massacre and witness firsthand the destruction of that fateful day upon the communities bordering Gaza to the north and east. This trip was made possible through Avi (right), an Israeli volunteer and his friends who help coordinate and bring aid to where it is needed most.
Besides the Nova Festival, civilians from Kibbutzim and Yishuvim (towns) were also brutally and horrifically attacked by Hamas. Their homes were then looted by Palestinians from Gaza. We heard both tragic fates as well as miraculous stories of survival!
Yakovi and Bilha were burned alive in their home
Yakovi and Bilha Inon, both peace activists, lived for 32 years in what-used-to-be this house pictured on the left, in a Kibbutz which is the closest Israeli town to the Gaza Strip. The Hamas terrorists launched a rocket propelled grenade at the American style wooden chalet (not standard Israeli building material) and the whole house was set on fire. Both Yakovi and Bilha were burned alive inside the panic room when they opened the door at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Yakovi (78) was a farmer while Bilha (75) was an artist and some fragments of her pottery and ceramic work still remain in the front part of the lawn… They are 2 of the 20 that were killed in their town.
A Family’s Survival
Home destroyed – Life spared
In another home, just a couple of houses down the street, S., T. and their children witnessed a miracle and were spared in their safe room. As the terrorists closed in on them, attempting to force their way in, the couple rushed their frightened children into the safe room and held the door and windows tightly closed, preventing the attackers from entering. The terrorists then threw explosives, desperately trying to break through into the safe room. The explosion shook the house, but the concrete walls of the safe room stood firm. As the terrorists couldn’t enter, they continued their house-to-house hunt for other victims to terrorize in the neighborhood, leaving the family unharmed, yet deeply scarred by the attack. Due to the explosion, the safe room door was bent and cannot be opened until this day. The family was able to escape through the safe room’s window many hours later.
Destruction and Devastation
Scenes from Kfar Aza, where 52 people were murdered and 20+ went missing
Together with Avi in Kfar Aza
Police Station in Sderot destroyed after being overrun by terrorists
The picture above shows what used to be Sderot’s Police Station. After Hamas overpowered the garrison and killed around 30 people, the IDF reinforcements neutralized the 10 terrorists onsite and demolished the station with bulldozers.
Having been to areas where natural disasters occurred and visiting aftermaths of terror attacks, witnessing these scenes of destruction, I could not help but think: “Those who committed these unspeakable crimes, are not human beings – they cannot be! This is pure evil!” Walking through the devastated Israeli communities bordering Gaza that were attacked and ransacked, I wanted to know every story. I felt I needed to know what happened to each individual. We need to know so that we can remember and never forget. The dark part of history repeats itself because people forget, or even worse, they don’t care, and don’t think the events that took place affect them. For the sake of humanity, justice, and what is true and right, the fates, events, and stories must be passed on, as uncomfortable or horrible as they may be! The fact of the matter is, it is a spiritual battle and we cannot remain silent if we stand for justice and truth and choose to walk in the Light!
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.” Psalm 89:14
FZS Aid Distribution to the IDF
During our visit, we also distributed aid to IDF troops stationed by Gaza. Most of them have not seen their families in weeks. The 80 cots we brought into Israel from Europe are a blessing for those who have been sleeping on the floor or flooded tents and enable them to have a better night’s rest. A Golani soldier wrote: “Greatest cots in the world! It is also relatively simple to assemble and take apart. Thank you!” The cots have proven to be a great success and the men are very thankful for them.
Together with Avi by Gaza, delivering food and supplying IDF soldiers with cots
Visiting with our brave IDF troops outside Gaza
Israeli Volunteers Support the Community
David, an Israeli volunteer, retelling the stories of those who perished and miraculously survived in the communities bordering Gaza
David, one of the volunteers at a nursery bordering Gaza, graciously took his time to show us around the Yishuv (town) nearby that was attacked. During the 15 minutes we spent meeting David and visiting the nursery, two ‘code red’ alerts popped up on an app, warning us to take cover. Running to the bomb shelter and the mortar shelling in the background did not seem to bother David. He did however mention his concern for his son, Noam, who is still in Gaza. David hears news from him through a 3rd party every couple of days and keeps busy to not spend too much time worrying.
Offering Sweets to the Volunteers
Taking Cover in a Bomb Shelter during a “Code Red” Alert
Volunteers spend hours under rocket threats and donate their time to support Israeli society as the economic implications of the war are drastic. Even businesses in city centers are struggling to stay open…
FZS Clothing Distribution in Jerusalem
Our clothing distribution had been put on hold for several weeks after the war broke out on October 7th as many new immigrants and elderly were afraid to leave their homes. In recent weeks, however, the visits to our distribution center picked up again and we are blessed to continue to help these needy souls that come to us for aid. Several families from Sderot, the Bomb Shelter Capital of the World by Gaza, also came to us for assistance as they were unable to take many of their belongings with them when they were evacuated over a month ago.
Evacuated Holocaust Survivors and elderly from Sderot
Receiving Aid for Distribution in Jerusalem
Partnering with several humanitarian aid organizations, FZS was blessed to receive brand-new clothing and shoes incoming from Europe. We unloaded the first aid shipments in Ashdod on Thursday and Sunday and 7 more shipments are to follow in the coming weeks. PTL!
Loading the car with boxes and bags of clothing
Unloading the Aid at our FZS Jerusalem Distribution Center
Please continue to pray for the remaining hostages, their families, the thousands of evacuated, the wounded, the IDF, and those who have lost and are grieving. Please also keep those individuals in your prayers who have been released since Friday, as well as their relatives, as they process their return to Israel, some to find out their relatives were murdered the day they were taken hostage.
Aid to Israel and the Nations