Rockets flew into Israeli communities fast and furious for 50 days during Operation Protective Edge. During this time Hamas fired 4,382 rockets at civilian targets. Children were traumatized. Summer vacation, which is supposed to be carefree, became restrictive, as Israeli parents kept their children inside, close to a bomb shelter. In the towns close to the Gaza Strip people only have 15 seconds to run to safety. Set your timer for 15 seconds and see how far you can run.
What if you are a mother in the car with two young children in car seats? You can’t get both of them out in 15 seconds. How do you choose between your precious children? It is heart wrenching. We are so thankful that Israel provides bomb shelters for her citizens. Just a short distance away in Gaza, not only does Hamas not provide shelters for the citizens of Gaza, they deliberately place military rocket launchers in homes, schools, mosques and hospitals in order to ensure more civilian deaths.
Over 25% of Israel’s citizens live in poverty. They struggle to provide food for their families in the best of times. With the war, that struggle became much worse. Many were unable to go to work because they had to stay close to a bomb shelter. Others had their work canceled because of the war. We have been inundated with requests for additional food supplies. Now that we are in a ceasefire, their needs have not lessened. After nearly two months without work, many families are in desperate financial straits. We are responding, but need your help as our food budget is dwindling. Unless we receive more donations for food, soon we will find it difficult to meet the many needs.
The people of southern Israel have been traumatized enough from the rockets and the fear of terror tunnels; they shouldn’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from!
Our driver Jey returned from delivering food to a Holocaust survivor. The story he told broke my heart. As he handed a bag of food into her hands, the bag tore open and the flour package dropped to the floor and broke. She immediately set the rest of the contents down, and very carefully scooped up the flour that had spilled on the floor. Even the smallest pinch of flour was too precious for her just to sweep away as nothing.
While talking and sharing a tea with one of our contacts in Ashdod, a community under constant fire, he looked at us and said “THANK-YOU.” Then he shared his heart for helping the needy people there with food.
“The people are hungry and live on the bare minimum. Many are Holocaust survivors, others are new immigrants who come from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and find it very difficult to integrate into Israeli society for many reasons–learning the language, differences in culture, too old, too sick and the list goes on. Somehow they fall through the system for getting the help they need, feel very alone, and are very, very poor.”
These people need our help and our prayers. They had 15 seconds to get to a bomb shelter when the siren blared. Even the fastest long distance runner could not move quickly enough, so many stayed very close, or lived inside the shelters. They are elderly and could not run fast. They need relief from the hardness of life. We can help! A few dollars can go a long way to help these precious people who have already suffered too much for one lifetime.
One of our volunteers came back from delivering food and told me about her experience, “As we drove, we heard [radio] news reports of rockets falling [earlier] in the morning, but things were blessedly quiet as we made our way to Ashkelon.” [Ashkelon was under constant rocket barrage] She continued, “The Social Services Coordinator was rushed as he arrived at the bomb shelter where we were to unload the food. He told us that he was sorry to be late, but had just been on the phone with a woman with four children who had threatened to commit suicide. She had no food to feed them. He had responded by taking a psychologist to help her, and giving her food from Bridges for Peace. I can’t stop thinking of this desperate mother, and how overwhelmed she must feel with the constant rocket attacks in addition to her desperate circumstances. I will continue to pray for her.”
Shockingly, if you open the refrigerators of some we help, all you will see is the refrigerator light illuminating empty shelves.
As I write this letter, the war with Gaza seems to have come to a tentative end. Northern Israel is now receiving some attacks from rebels in Syria. Make no mistake, the battles may have come to an end, but there will not be peace until there is a change of heart. Regardless, the plight of the needy goes on. Our food gifts are literally saving lives. I urge you to do three things:
1. Pray for the people of Israel. “Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people…” (Isa. 40:1);
2. Speak out for Israel’s sake, telling her story to those you can influence—we will help you to know the truth (www.bridgesforpeace.com); and
3. Give to show your love and support when it really makes a difference.
Your love, prayers and financial support show the love of God to the people of Israel. Please send a generous gift today to help us feed those who need it most.
Blessings from Israel,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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