Following the kidnapping of the three Israeli school boys, the WIZO Early Age Division refreshed the procedures amongst all our staff in the Day Care Centers, for operating during period of tension, and crisis.
The procedures included ensuring that all shelters are prepared for an influx of children when the red alert siren is sounded, giving members of staff different tasks during the siren, ensuring that there are toys in the shelter if there is a need for their stay over a prolonged period, and ongoing contacts with the local security forces.
The Home Guard is responsible for deciding when Day Care Centers operate, or when they need to be closed, and comply with their instructions. Since the beginning of the latest round of tensions our WIZO Day Care Centers have continued to operate according to their regular routine.
Unfortunately the rocket fire from Gaza is continually increasing. Homes, and factories, have been directly hit, but as ever, we rely upon miracles, and the ‘Iron Dome’ which is intercepting many of the rockets before they land.
The atmosphere amongst the local population is one of tension. From the second that the alert siren is sounded, there is just a fifteen second window of opportunity to get to a shelter and to reach safety. We are in close contact with the parents. We often receive calls from them during the course of the day, for reassurance.
During the current period of tension, the ‘Open House in Sderot’ is an empowering force, providing support to parents and children in the south.
We have also received calls from the local authorities of Eshkol, and the areas surrounding Gaza, asking us for WIZO assistance.
The situation is further complicated with the beginning of the summer holidays in the schools, and children who are trapped in their homes for fear of going out and finding themselves in terrifying situations when the siren sounds.
The Ramadan, a religious month amongst Muslims, in which religious tensions frequently run high, is underway, making the situation more fragile.
In WIZO, just as throughout the Jewish world, we unequivocally condemn the horrific murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. It was unjustifiable under any circumstances. The killing was reprehensible and we hope that the criminals who did this sickening act are found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The Talmud in Sanhedrin 37a states, “For this reason, man was created alone, to teach you that whoever destroys a life it is as if he destroyed the entire world and whoever saved a life it is as if he saved the entire world.”
The Torah in the Ten Commandments makes it very clear that murder is forbidden in Judaism. It does not matter what the ethnic background of the person is.
Israel is a country run by the rule of law. If a trial finds that Jews are indeed guilty of this unconscionable killing, our condemnation is redoubled. The idea that Jews could do such an act fills us with shame and horror.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu correctly stressed that these Jewish murderers don’t deserve to be considered part of Israeli society.
Just as the appalling murders of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar do not in any way justify the hideous murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, neither does Khdeir’s murder justify the violence, terrorism, destruction and incitement we have seen over the past few days against Israelis and Jews.
We hope and pray that everyone, Arab and Jew, resume their daily routine and continues to live in peace and security in the region.
I know that this is also a difficult time for you, in our federations around the world. As WIZO’s leadership, you are all ambassadors for Israel – the only true democracy in the Middle East.
As in the past, we are ready for any eventuality, and I know that I can turn to you if the situation deteriorates.
לְמַעַן, אַחַי וְרֵעָי– אֲדַבְּרָה-נָּא שָׁלוֹם בָּךְ.
For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say:
‘Peace be within thee.’
With warm regards.
World WIZO Executive