Dear Federation and Community Leaders,
Our Jewish Federation communities have been actively involved in discussions with the administration of Rutgers University and other universities regarding the ongoing issue of antisemitism on our campuses. We have not yet seen meaningful progress from the engagement and encourage our community leaders and members to continue their efforts to ensure that Jewish students and faculty are safe and respected on campus. Our Jewish Federation professional staff is reaching out to our legislative leaders to address these concerns. We are advocating for formal action to combat the ongoing prevalence of Jew-hate on university and college campuses in our state.
I also want to tell you how grateful I am for JKHA/RKYHS Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, for a beautiful evening last night with Shulem Lemmer for their ATID concert. Again and again I see the commitment to excellence, community, and Jewish values that JKHA-RKYHS exemplifies and advances, and this commitment was well on display last night too.
Here we are. As fighting continues, following the collapse of the ceasefire, three more soldiers have been killed, bringing the total number of IDF casualties since the ground offensive began to 76, (and to 401 since October 7). See details of all the fallen soldiers. The IDF is now striking targets across Gaza, including the city of Khan Yunis in the south, as ground forces continue to operate in the Strip, following the end of the ceasefire. The military said that it has expanded its ground offensive into the southern half of Gaza, promising to carry out its campaign with the same intensity as it has used in the Strip’s north. IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the military was expanding the ground offensive to “all areas of the Gaza Strip.” Watch this footage, and watch the IDF Spokesperson, speak about the IDF’s operations against Hamas in Gaza and efforts to mitigate civilian harm.
The IDF also carried out strikes against some 200 Hamas targets in Gaza overnight. Among other targets, the military destroyed Hamas infrastructure inside a school in north Gaza which terrorists used to attack troops. Inside the school complex, IDF soldiers found weapons, as well as two tunnel entrances, including one that was booby-trapped. The Israeli Navy also carried out strikes overnight, targeting Hamas observation posts and other infrastructure along Gaza’s coast. Referring to the resumption of fighting, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “Hamas will not determine what happens – only the IDF will. Hamas’ morale is low. Eight weeks have passed since the start of the war – including 3 weeks of strikes, 4 weeks of maneuvering, and one week during which hostages returned home. The [military] achievements so far are great – thousands of terrorists have been eliminated, we have struck dozens of headquarters, hundreds of terabytes of information have been transferred to us, hundreds of terrorists have been apprehended and are being interrogated in Israel, and much more… All this was achieved as a result of the IDF’s determination and successful operations.” (See these photos).
Hamas says the Israeli military campaign has killed more than 15,500 people, mostly civilians. The numbers have not been independently verified and are believed to include combatants as well as Palestinian civilians killed by errant rockets launched by terror groups. The IDF also announced yesterday that troops have discovered more than 800 tunnel shafts in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the ground offensive and that around 500 of them have already been destroyed. Watch this footage.
As part of the hostage-release deal, a total of 105 hostages were released (of whom 81 were Israelis) from Hamas captivity. In exchange for those let out, Israel released some 250 terrorists from prison and granted a seven-day ceasefire. It is believed that 136 hostages remain in Gaza including 17 women and 2 children. The two children are the now famous red-headed boys of the Bibas family. Hamas claims they were killed in an Israeli bombing along with their mother, but this remains unconfirmed.
Based on information from released hostages, at least four of those kidnapped have been confirmed to have died while in captivity. Over the weekend, the body of one hostage was recovered by IDF troops. New details continue to emerge about the harsh conditions under which hostages were, and are, being kept. See this New York Times story based on information from released hostages. Also see the parents of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin speak about their ongoing agony. Survivors expose Hamas horrors, and demand rescue of remaining hostages. Released hostage Ofir Engel, 18, ‘physically okay,’ says his father; emotionally, ‘we’ll see.’
A senior delegation of US Administration officials arrived in Israel today to discuss planning for post-war Gaza. The delegation is led by US Vice President Kamala Harris’s national security adviser Phil Gordon, who was with her for meetings with Arab leaders on the subject in Dubai over the weekend. He will be joined by Ilan Goldenberg, Harris’s Mideast adviser along with several others. The US delegation will meet with Israel’s National Security Council chair Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer along with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
In signs of increasing US military involvement, as well as a more significant threat from Yemen, an American destroyer shot down multiple drones today while assisting commercial ships in the Red Sea that were targeted by attacks “from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen,” the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said. “Today, there were four attacks against three separate commercial vessels operating in international waters in the southern Red Sea,” a CENTCOM statement read.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the existing Palestinian Authority lacks the credibility to govern Gaza once Israel’s military campaign to oust Hamas from the enclave is over.
The awesome Israeli actress Gal Gadot has strongly criticized the international community for its silence over cases of sexual assault on October 7, and the continued holding of women hostages by the Hamas terror group in Gaza. “The world has failed the women of October 7th. We claim we stand against rape, violence against women. We will not let women be victimized and then silenced. We say we believe women, stand with women, speak out for women.”
Interesting stuff ….
- Time Magazine: Why the Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Was Destined to Fail
- Arab Israelis are split on whether Israel’s response to October 7 is justified
- Mosaic discussion: “Ecstasy and Amnesia in the Gaza Strip.”
- “The October 7 massacre brought feminist organizations and jihadist rapists into one bed.”
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the highest-ranking Jewish public official in the US, published an op-ed in the New York Times this week in which he decried antisemitism. On Wednesday, he spoke passionately for 40 minutes on the Senate floor on the need to protect Jews against what he called the “Five-Alarm Fire” of surging anti-Jewish hatred.
- Why is it so difficult for Israel to decipher Hamas?
- Jewish Federations have now raised a total of more than $659 million system-wide and allocated close to $200 million to a wide range of humanitarian organizations in Israel. See our impact stats here.
With prayers for peace, and for the swift return of the hostages,