November 28, 2023

Fifty-Three Days of War

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

Dear Federation and Community Leaders,

Some updates, behind the scenes stuff, and more …

Mazal tov and nesiya tova (safe travels) to the latest Greater MetroWest Israel Solidarity Mission, chaired by Zev Scherl and currently on the ground in the south, visiting our partnership communities hit hard by the Hamas attacks. We’re so proud of them, and grateful for them for showing our love and support. You can follow them on social media using the hashtags #missiongmw and #IamGMW

Thanks to our wonderful Jewish Family Service of MetroWest for hosting me and our Federation President Michael Goldberg last night. Michael has also just returned from a Federation mission to Israel, and we both spoke about the work of our Federation on the ground, our allocations and partnerships, and the work we’re doing here in New Jersey, on the ground day in and day out. We’re fighting Jew-hate and building the strength of our community, connecting us together, and making sure that our kids are ready for campus life.  JFS has a wide range of community resources available, and I’m deeply grateful for their lay and professional leaders, their commitment, and their mission.

I’m grateful that the Randolph Town Council will be issuing a Proclamation on this evening (Tuesday) at 6pm in support of the Blue Light Campaign against Jewish Hate. Federation has already distributed over 300 Blue Light kits across the Randolph community, including several churches. We look forward to continuing to spread the light. If you’re free, go this evening and join in as they read a powerful and meaningful statement aloud.

Some quick updates … 53 days of war and the fifth day of the ceasefire: the IDF said Tuesday that explosives were set off near Israeli forces in northern Gaza in violation of the cease-fire; several soldiers were lightly wounded. Ten Israeli hostages are set to be released by Hamas to the Red Cross and then transferred to Israel this afternoon. Israel said it had notified the families of those who will be freed.

10-month-old baby Kfir Bibas, his 4-year-old brother and their parents Yarden and Shiri, will not be released Tuesday, according to family in Israel. According to the IDF, the family is being held by another faction, not Hamas, in the southern Gazan city of Khan Yunis.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Foreign Minister landed in Israel on Tuesday to visit the Thai citizens freed from Hamas captivity and hospitalized in Israel. Mossad chief David Barnea and CIA head William Burns are holding talks with Qatar’s emir and prime minister in Doha. Sources have said that the discussions are focused on broadening the categories of hostages to be released after the current deal ends, including female soldiers, civilians serving in the reserves, regular soldiers and the bodies of Israelis. Qatar’s foreign ministry is working to extend the cease-fire beyond Wednesday, when it is due to end, a Qatari foreign ministry spokesman said. An extension will depend on Hamas releasing 10 Israeli hostages a day. Qatar cannot validate how many hostages remain in Gaza beyond the 20 scheduled to be released by Hamas on Tuesday and Wednesday, the spokesman added. According to an official source, Israel has insisted it is unwilling to expand the truce past ten days in total, i.e. beyond next Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be landing in Israel and the West Bank on Wednesday to meet with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Israel’s Justice Ministry released the names of the 50 Palestinian prisoners and detainees nominated for release if the cease-fire is extended by five days. The list includes Ahed Tamimi, the 22-year-old student arrested on November 6 but not yet tried on suspicion of inciting violence and supporting terrorism. Unusually, about 20 of the women on the list are Israeli citizens.

The family of Kibbutz Nir Oz resident Ravid Katz, thought to have been taken hostage on October 7, were notified of his death by the Military Rabbinate, charged with identifying bodies.

IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi said Tuesday that while the army and Military Intelligence failed to avert the catastrophe of October 7, “it would be wrong for IDF commanders to be busy now discussing responsibility for this or that.”

French helicopter carrier Dixmude has docked in Egypt and could start treating wounded children from Gaza later this week, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Tuesday.

With prayers for peace and the return of all the hostages,

Chief Executive Officer