November 6, 2023

The Fifth Person to Ask to Pay for the Meal

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

Dear Federation and Community Leaders,

Mark your calendars to join us in Washington, D.C. next Tuesday, November 14 for the Americans March for Israel. The day is organized by our Jewish Federations and supporting organizations. Please register here.

Thank you to the hundreds of people who joined us yesterday afternoon in Montclair, to call for the release of the hostages, to stand up against Jew-hate, and to say that never again means now. I was deeply moved by the installation, showing the place settings for the hostages – even though there are possibly more, since not all have been identified. And moved by the beauty and stark reminder of what we have lost. You can read my speech at the rally here.

I’m also grateful to the many Israeli families who joined us last night in Livingston for a Hebrew-speaking event. We’re hungry for community, and this was a good example of how we can come together to grieve, mourn, stand together, and share our love and solidarity. For our many Israelis in the community I want to say אנחנו אוהבים אתכם, עומדים לצידכם, וביחד ננצח

Tomorrow marks one month of Israel’s War with Hamas, as heavy fighting continues in Gaza. It is confirmed that 31 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the ground offensive began, and 242 hostages are being held by Hamas in Gaza. In addition, over the last week, the IDF has struck more than 2,500 Hamas targets by land, air and sea. An Israeli civilian in Kiryat Shemona was killed when his car was hit by a Hezbollah rocket. In other violence, two police were stabbed by a terrorist in Jerusalem – one of whom has sadly now died, and over the weekend, a 30-year-old Israeli father of three was shot and killed by a terrorist in the Shomron region. Ukrainian leader Vlodimir Zelensky is set to visit Israel in the coming days. In an extraordinary move, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Security Council have issued a travel advisory for Israelis, calling on them to consider canceling any travel to any country; and where travel is unavoidable, to hide or downplay their Israeli and Jewish identities. Watch here.

Israel Defense Forces Operations
The ground operation continues in full force. Overnight, IDF troops captured an important Hamas stronghold near Gaza City, and hit over 450 Hamas sites. One airstrike killed Jamal Musa, the head of Hamas’s special operations forces. The IDF also says that it has now effectively divided Gaza in two, cutting the south from the north, while allowing for a humanitarian corridor for those fleeing the fighting. Rocket launches from areas captured by Israeli troops have completely halted. Watch video footage of the fighting here, and here; and see photos here. The IDF has confirmed that 31 soldiers have been killed in the battles in Gaza. Read here the story of one fallen soldier, Sgt. Roi Daoui, and here about another, Sgt. Itay Yehuda; and see the full details of all those from the IDF killed since October 7, here. The IDF continues to discover terror sites in the middle of residential neighborhoods, as Hamas hides behind the civilian population. In this video, the IDF has uncovered rocket launch sites inside an amusement park for Gazan children.

Israel’s Minister of Defense, Yoav Gallant, directly threatened Hamas supreme leader yesterday, telling reporters that “Hamas leadership is responsible for this, and we will get to them. We will get to Yahya Sinwar, and we will eliminate him.” Gallant continued, “I can tell you that 12 Hamas battalion commanders have already been eliminated. We will reach everyone, to the chain of command and to the terrorists in the field. One thing I can say to the citizens of Israel – at the end of the war there will no longer be Hamas in Gaza, there will be no security threat from the Gaza Strip to Israel, and Israel will have complete freedom of action to carry out any security actions it needs against anyone who [threatens us].”

Over the weekend, some 61 trucks of humanitarian aid entered Gaza from Egypt, despite repeated reports that Hamas is using emergency supplies for its own terror purposes. At the same time, the IDF opened a humanitarian corridor (the main north-south route in the Strip, Salah-al-Din Street) to allow civilians to leave the north to the safer zones in the south. During this time, the IDF refrained from conducting military activities. Sadly, the IDF safe passage was attacked by Hamas with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and anti-tank rockets, preventing Palestinians from fleeing, as it has blocked those trying to escape in the past (listen to testimony here and see photos here). The IDF said they will open the passage again today. And overnight, in coordination with the IDF, the Jordanian Air Force airdropped medical supplies into Gaza. Watch this video message of an Arabic-speaking IDF officer instructing civilians to use the corridor. The IDF has sent millions of text and voice messages (listen here), as well as dropping pamphlets from the sky (see footage here), urging civilians to leave. See fuller details here.

Yesterday, the IDF also attacked a Palestinian ambulance in the Gaza Strip after intelligence was received that the vehicle was carrying Hamas terrorists and weapons under the guise of a humanitarian mission. And at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, it has been established that a full third of the medical emergency evacuees that were allowed to cross into Egypt turned out to be Hamas personnel in good health. Israel also continues to warn the world of the extensive Hamas activities taking place beneath hospitals in Gaza, including the storage of weapons, fuel supplies, terror command headquarters and more. Watch this video that includes scenes of Hamas terrorists emerging from hiding under the Sheik Hamad Hospital, and see here as terrorists shoot from inside the hospital.

The Geneva Convention, Part II, Article 19, states: “The protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy. Protection may, however, cease only after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit, and after such warning has remained unheeded.” In other words, once terrorists use hospitals to harbor personnel and weapons, and since the hospitals serve as entrance shafts to terror tunnels, alongside the fact that terrorists shoot from within a hospital, that hospital ceases to be protected from attack under the Geneva Convention.

The Hamas-run Gazan Health Ministry says that 9,770 Palestinians have been killed since Israel was attacked on October 7. Hezbollah says that 61 of its fighters have been killed on the northern front.

The Home Front
The country continues to mourn the massacre of October 7:

  • The IDF has found the remains of Ruth Peretz, a severely disabled 17-year-old who went missing along with her father during the October 7 Rave. Ruth suffered from muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. Her wheelchair was found near the Gaza border a few days after the massacre, leading to initial fears she had been kidnapped and was being held hostage. Her father’s body had been found earlier. Read more here.
  • The family of Emily Hand, an eight-year-old Irish-Israeli child, had been told that Emily had been murdered by Hamas on October 7. However, new evidence suggests that she is alive and is being held captive in Gaza.
  • Watch this video of the Bedouin family of a hostage speaking of their ongoing ordeal.
  • According to authorities in Paris, at least 40 of those killed on October 7 held French citizenship.

The level of rocket fire from Gaza remains low, although there is at least one major barrage per day, sending millions to their shelters and exposing them to the very loud iron dome interceptions above major cities. In the north, Hezbollah has continued its medium-intensity attacks across the border, while the IDF strikes at cells and the sources of fire. Yesterday, an Israeli civilian in Kiryat Shemona was killed when his car was hit by a rocket launched from Lebanon.

Following her comments that “Hamas did not kill babies,” Member of Knesset Iman Khatib-Yasin has been asked to resign from the Knesset by Ra’am Party leader, MK Mansour Abbas. Abbas said there was no place in his party for those who belittled Hamas’ atrocities. Ra’am became the first Arab party to join an Israeli government when it helped form the Bennett-Lapid government two and a half years ago.

International Response
CIA Chief William Burns has arrived in Israel for talks with leading political and defense officials. And, in an unusual move, the U.S. announced that it has brought a nuclear-capable Ohio-class submarine to the region. The American military does not typically announce the location of its submarines. Also, read this backgrounder on U.S. military aid to Israel during the current conflict.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison have arrived in Israel on a solidarity visit. They met with President Isaac Herzog and relatives of hostages held in Gaza; and also toured southern towns that were attacked by Hamas on October 7. In comments to reporters, Johnson said that Hamas is an “ISIS-like death cult.” The two former leaders’ visit was hosted by Likud MK Danny Danon, who previously served as the Israeli ambassador to the UN.

In Lyon, a French Jewish woman was repeatedly stabbed by an unknown assailant who also daubed a swastika on the door of her apartment. The woman is hospitalized in serious condition. Read this article on the skyrocketing of antisemitism in France; as well as this disturbing article that argues that life for the Jewish community in the United Kingdom is all but over.

Efforts on the Ground
Israelis of all stripes have come together to support soldiers and bolster morale in the country, many sharing inspiring tales.

  • On Friday afternoon, a group of IDF soldiers in Gaza set up an array of very loud speakers where they broadcast a Kabbalat Shabbat service, in the hope that the hostages may hear the sounds, and give them some hope. Watch these soldiers singing just before Shabbat begins.
  • Since October 7, most residents of the largely agricultural-based kibbutzim and moshavim in the south have evacuated, leaving crops unattended. Volunteers from around the country have been descending on the area to pick fruit, harvest produce, water plants and more. See video footage here of dozens of motorbike gang members arriving in the south to join the effort.
  • One person posted on social media that they went out with a friend to a Tel Aviv restaurant, and noticed that nearby there was a table with six Givati soldiers, devouring their meal. The poster wrote that he quietly approached the Maitre d’ and told him that he wanted to anonymously pay the soldiers’ check, but that he shouldn’t say anything until he left, so that they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. In response the Maitre d’ gave the man a big hug and said, “Thank you so much. You’re the best. But you’re now the fifth person to come to me and ask to pay for their meal.”
  • Watch this moving video of an Israeli soldier, on leave from the fighting, surprising his little brother at school; and this school teacher, called up to the reserves, who surprises her class when she was given a short leave.


  • See this piece about the effects of labor shortages on the war effort.
  • Read here about Russia’s role in the current conflict. And also see “The Tsar Has Chosen Sides.”
  • “What will victory in Gaza look like for Israel?”- Read here.

Jewish Federations
Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Emergency Fund has surpassed $600 million, $148 million of which has already been allocated to the most pressing needs on the ground through 116 partner organizations and NGOs. Read more. And click here for the latest allocations report. Don’t forget to give now, give generously, and give often to the emergency fund for Israel that funds these allocations. And to the United Jewish Appeal, so we can cover the infrastructure, security, community resilience, and resources that allow for this amazing response.

Be the fifth person. Or the first.

Chief Executive Officer<