November 17, 2023

Before Shabbat

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

Dear Federation and Community Leaders,

I’ve spoke to a lot of people, individually and in various briefings, events, and groups, since yesterday. At least several hundred. And I’m grateful for all those who asked me about my mental health and how I’m holding up, since I saw the video of the Hamas massacres. As I told you yesterday, I’m determined to share what I can with as many people as I can. I was pleased that my tweet on X (twitter) on this reached over five million views in less than a day. Less thrilled that so far I’ve blocked some 500 trolls and Jew-hating losers, and that’s barely scratching the surface of the responses. Whataboutists, callous haters, conspiracy theorists, and more.  But it was heartening to see so many grateful responses and voices of support. And thank you to all those who turned up, showed up, stood up this week at events, the DC March for Israel, parlor meetings, briefings, the amazing ShopBack, and more. Our best answer* to the haters and terrorists is to be present and not to let them take away the beauty of community.

Anyway, as the ground war continues in Gaza, Israel says that its forces have made significant progress and are close to achieving their goal of destroying Hamas’s operations in the northern Gaza Strip. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced that the military have eliminated all terrorist threats from the western side of Gaza City. Watch the IDF Chief of Staff briefing troops here and read here about possible next steps for the Israeli offensive.

Yesterday, Israeli troops attacked an Islamic Jihad outpost in northern Gaza; they found Iran-made Badr-3 rockets, drones, and other weapons. The Badr-3 has a range of 100 miles and includes a 550-pound explosive warhead. The Islamic Jihad outpost was later destroyed. Meanwhile, troops from the Givati Infantry Brigade battled Hamas terrorists holed up in a school. Several gunmen were killed in the fighting, and the troops later recovered weaponry. (See photos of captured weaponry here, and footage of the fighting here and here).

51 soldiers have been killed since the ground offensive began. See details of all fallen soldiers here.

Three days after announcing she had been killed in Hamas captivity, the IDF recovered the body of Cpl. Noa Marciano from a building adjacent to Shifa Hospital in Gaza, . Her funeral is slated for later today. Marciano, 19, was serving at the Nahal Oz IDF base when it was overrun by terrorists on October 7. She lived in Modiin and was the oldest of three siblings. On Monday evening, Hamas published a propaganda video of Marciano, showing her speaking to the camera four days after being taken hostage; she identified herself and recited the names of her parents and her hometown. The video then cut to showing her body. Yesterday, the IDF also recovered the body of Yehudit Weiss near Shifa.  She was abducted by Hamas on October 7.

Watch this video about how Hamas exploits hospitals for its military goals and see here weapons captured in the hospital grounds.

In this video, soldiers discover weapons stored in a child’s bedroom.

Read here about how Israel uses robots and other tactics to conquer Gaza’s tunnels.

In an interview with CBS News, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would consider a “temporary cease-fire” only if Hamas frees hostages. Netanyahu also said Israel has “concrete evidence” Hamas was using Shifa hospital as a military command center. Watch here. Yesterday, U.S. President Joe Biden said that “Israel’s Gaza operation will end when Hamas is no longer able to murder Israelis.”

An opinion poll of Israelis’ voting intentions was conducted for the first time since October 7. The results show support for Prime Minister Netanyahu plummeting, while backing for Minister Benny Gantz has surged. The Channel 12 survey gave the parties seats as follows (current number of seats in parentheses):

-Gantz’s National Unity Party 36 (12)
-Netanyahu’s Likud 17 (32)
-Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid 15 (24)
-Shas 10 (11)
-Yisrael Beytenu 9 (6)
-United Torah Judaism 7 (7)
-Otzmah Yehudit 7 and Religious Zionism 4 (currently 14 combined)
-Hadash-Taal 5 (5)
-Meretz 5 (0)
-Ra’am 5 (5)
-Labor 0 (4)

In this scenario, the current opposition parties, led by Benny Gantz (who has recently joined the war-time coalition) could easily form a government of 70, without Netanyahu’s Likud, or other religious and/or right-leaning parties. An alternate question showed that if Naftali Bennett stood at the head of a party, he would receive 17 seats, mainly at the expense of Benny Gantz.

Following Jewish Federations’ massive March for Israel in Washington DC, read here how the show of solidarity from the Diaspora gives Israelis hope.

May this be a peaceful Shabbat. May the hostages be returned. May we all find what we need.

*But not the only answer.

Chief Executive Officer