February 29, 2024

Where We Are

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

It’s been a busy few days. The Israeli delegation that spent the week in our community are on their way back home, and they have been incredible – over 55 meetings, briefings and events. We’re now focused on upcoming community events – there are some amazing ones posted here – and supporting the emergency fund for Israel and the United Jewish Appeal. We also celebrated the amazing and wonderful Barbara Drench as our Greater MetroWest “Mensch of the Month” today, so mazal tov to her, and to us, and Happy Leap Day.

Here we are. Two Israelis were killed today in a terrorist attack in the West Bank. The names of the victims have not yet been released. The attack took place at a gas station near Eli, where four Israelis were killed in terrorist attack last summer. Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians were injured and more than a hundred were killed when they swarmed food trucks that entered Gaza this morning.  According to the IDF, and despite Hamas claims to the contrary, Israeli gunfire caused just 10 deaths of Palestinians who were moving toward IDF soldiers.

Division 162 and the Nahal Brigade’s combat team have unearthed and mostly destroyed an extensive underground tunnel network that connects northern and southern Gaza. The tunnels are believed to have been used for intergroup communication between the multiple terrorist factions in Gaza. Soldiers found bodies of terrorists, weaponry, military equipment, and storage areas. The tunnels ran under both a hospital and a university. Two IDF soldiers, company commander Major Iftah Shahar, 25, and platoon commander Captain Itai Seif, 24, were killed by a bomb in a booby-trapped building in Zeitoun. Click here for the latest updates, in Hebrew, on fallen soldiers.  The IDF has killed Hassan Hossein Salami, commander of the Hajir sector of Hezbollah. Salami was responsible for leading a series of attacks against IDF troops, as well as against both civilian and military targets in the North. The IDF is continuing to carry out air strikes against Hezbollah, targeting miliary infrastructure in the south from which terrorists have attacked Israelis in the Golan Heights.

The IDF has announced the opening of a new center near Tel Hashomer Medical Center in Ramat Gan to treat PTSD. The IDF Medical Corps has received around 30,000 phone calls for assistance with emotional distress since the start of the war.

Major General Yehuda Fox formally approved plans for a new West Bank settlement of 3,600 to 13,000 housing units. The announcement has drawn praise from the pro-settlement movement. It came just a few days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called the new settlement plans “inconsistent with international law,” reverting to a longstanding US position that the Trump Administration had reversed.


In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant retaliation. In the wake of Israel’s limited military operations in Rafah, Iran has ordered Hezbollah to escalate its attacks along the Israel-Lebanon border. The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli remains very low, due to Hamas’s significantly diminished capabilities. In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen. The US also continues to strike at pro-Iranian targets in both Syria and Iraq.  According to Syrian state media, Israel attacked several sites in the Damascus countryside, which Israel believes to be the location of several Iranian-backed strongholds. The IDF did not comment. See videos of the attacks here.


Currently, 132 hostages remain in Gaza amid ongoing negotiations for their release. The IDF estimates that roughly 30 are dead.  The families of some of the hostages set out yesterday on a four-day march from Kibbutz Re’im to Jerusalem to keep the spotlight on the desperate plight of their loved ones. Israel’s Genesis Prize was awarded to multiple organizations that support hostage families through Federation’s partner the Jewish Agency for Israel. Recipients include the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the Jewish Agency Fund for Victims of Terror, Lev Echad, Natal, The Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center, and One Family. I’m proud that we’re supporting them through our emergency funding. Meanwhile, President Biden is expected to invite family members of the hostages to this year’s State of the Union Address. The Biden Administration also remains hopeful that a deal securing the release some of the hostages will be inked by Monday. Hamas has denounced the US-drafted proposal, calling it a “Zionist document.”


The Canadian government will begin airdropping humanitarian aid into Gaza at the start of next week. The United States government is weighing doing the same, as land deliveries become increasingly difficult to execute. Supplies would come from Israel, Canada, America, France, Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.

“Dance Forever,” Israel’s second song submission for the annual Eurovision contest, has been rejected for being “too political.” The song references the Nova music festival massacre. This comes after the country’s first submission, “October Rain,” was rejected on the same grounds. Read the “Dance Forever” lyrics here.

New Zealand designated the entirety of Hamas as a terrorist entity Thursday morning. The military wing has fallen under this classification since 2010. The country also created a travel ban on “extremist” Israeli settlers who have engaged in violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

CNN is reporting that Biden officials are growing increasingly concerned that Israel will launch an incursion into Lebanon in the coming months.

Interesting stuff 

Three Israeli women from Ra’anana created “Scarves of Love,” a project that aims to knit one scarf for every hostage in captivity. Their initiative has had a ripple effect, with dozens of volunteers pitching in.

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh of the Palestinian Authority is stepping down. President Mahmoud Abbas, the highest-ranking official in the Palestinian Authority, is staying in his position.  Because, you know, 19 years into a 5 year term.

Hagay Lober, an actor and rabbi, staged a one-man play about the Hamas attack, aptly titled “October 7.” The show was produced by Jerusalem’s Aspaklaria theatre company. The production comes one month after Lober’s son, staff sergeant Elisha Yehonatan Lober, fell in battle.

Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now raised a total of more than $780 million and allocated close to $375 million. For details, click here.

With prayers for peace, and for the swift return of the hostages. And if you come to our main building you’ll see their photos in the lobby. Take a moment next time you come, to remember their names and to bear witness.