Six Injured, Three Seriously, by Mortar Attack

(Photo: ASHERNET/IDF)

(Photo: ASHERNET/IDF)

While the Iron Dome defense system has done well protecting the people of Israel from terrorist rocket attacks, it can do little against the shorter-range mortar rounds launched on southern Israel from Gaza. Arutz Sheva reports that terrorists fired a mortar round into southern Israel today, causing serious injuries:

Six people were injured, three of them seriously, when a mortar shell fired by Gaza terrorists struck the Eshkol region Thursday evening.

The casualties were evacuated by helicopter to Soroka and Tel Hashomer hospitals.

Earlier Thursday, residents of the Shaar Hanegev region were warned of a possible infiltration and asked to stay inside their homes.

Hamas terrorists fired rockets at Gush Dan at 6:00 pm Thursday, sparking “code red” sirens in Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak, Givat Shmuel, Givatayim, Ramat Gan and Ramat Ef’al.

The Fellowship continues to do all that it can to aid the residents of southern Israel, and we thank our friends and supporters for your love and generosity in helping us do so.

Help us meet the growing needs in Israel throughout this crisis.

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Thursday, July 31st, 2014 at 12:26 PM  | Stand For Israel

Update: Militants “Blow Up UNRWA Clinic,” Killing 3 IDF Soldiers

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

Yesterday we reported on the deaths of 3 IDF soldiers who were killed when the building in which they had uncovered a terror tunnel exploded, having been booby trapped by Hamas. Now The Times of Israel‘s Mitch Ginsburg provides further details about the incident, including the fact that the structure was either a UNRWA clinic or a building disguised as one:

“And then we enter with our people, and they [the militants], from the very same terror tunnel, they blow up half the clinic on our troops.”“They blow [up] the UNRWA clinic on our troops.”

UNRWA did not immediately respond to a request for comment …

The three soldiers, members of the elite Maglan unit, were taking precautionary measures in efforts to limit damage to the structure before eliminating the tunnel, when the explosives detonated in the small building.

The soldiers had sent in sniffing dogs and a small tractor to minimize damage to the structure, but explosives rigged to the building detonated, toppling a section of the building on the soldiers.

Fifteen soldiers were injured. IDF soldiers evacuating the wounded came under fire from Palestinian fighters …

Edelstein used the alleged clinic as an illustration of the difficulty inherent in fighting an enemy willing to exploit both civilians and non-governmental organizations. “Once you enter such a clinic and you see the UNRWA sigh on it and you know there is a terror tunnel there, you know it’s a very very sensitive building, and you’re thinking of the not-terrorist Palestinians living there all around, and you’re trying not to harm this place,” Edelstein said.

Again, we pray that God comforts the loved ones of the three soldiers lost, and that He provides strength and healing to all those wounded.

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Thursday, July 31st, 2014 at 9:44 AM  | Stand For Israel

Amid the Tunnels and Traps of Hamas’ Gaza

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff has long provided thoughtful, well-written journalism on Israel and the Middle East. Now he gives this gripping account of traveling with IDF paratroopers into Gaza, in search of the tunnels and traps Hamas has built:

“The sheer destruction around us is devastating,” a battalion commander, Yoav, noted. “What’s most disturbing is that they operate from this urban environment, and the ones who suffer most are the civilians. I’d much rather manage all this in face-to-face combat against a real Hamas, one that is genuinely here.”

He elaborated: Late one evening, after the troops thought they had secured the area around another tunnel, he said, three Hamas fighters suddenly emerged from a tunnel shaft out of the ground, and almost managed to catch the soldiers off guard. Luckily, the officer said, the soldiers were alert and reacted quickly. “The second they saw us, the terrorists slipped back into the tunnel. They then popped out from another entrance,” he said …

This is indeed one of the most difficult problems for IDF forces fighting within the Strip. Hamas has worked tirelessly in recent years to build up the tunnel infrastructure, with multiple entrance-ways that enable its gunmen to move quickly and undetected between private homes and streets and alleyways. At any moment, a Hamas fighter might come out of the ground and open fire with machine guns and anti-tank missiles on the troops.

An additional challenge is Hamas’s almost unthinkable decision to rig the homes of many residents in the Strip with explosives, aiming to collapse the structures upon Israeli soldiers.

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Thursday, July 31st, 2014 at 8:51 AM  | Stand For Israel

UNRWA: The Damage Done

(Photo: flickr/ amargretecom)

(Photo: flickr/ amargretecom)

In three separate incidents since the start of Operation Protective Edge, schools in Gaza being run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) were found to be stashing rockets – the very same rockets the IDF is trying to locate and destroy. In at least one of these cases, UNRWA returned the rockets they discovered to “local authorities” – Hamas – undoubtedly used them to launch attacks against Israeli civilians instead of handing them over to the Israeli army.

UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide various services to more than half a million Palestinian refugees after Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. But many people argue that UNRWA is fundamentally flawed, and has only exacerbated the issue of Palestinian refugees, who today number over five million.

The status and future placement of Palestinian refugees is one of the fundamental obstacles to peace between Israel and its neighbors. And while the Palestinian Authority and Hamas continue to call for the return of all refugees to their original neighborhoods within Israel proper – a scenario which would effectively bring an end to the Jewish state – it is UNRWA that has kept this fantasy alive.

All refugees across the globe – with the exception of Palestinian refugees – are tended to by the U.N. High Commission. This commission operates under guidelines established in 1951 and seeks to settle refugees as quickly as possible, and most frequently, in countries other than the ones from which they fled. UNRWA, whose only patrons are the Palestinians, states that those Palestinians who fled Israel in the course of the 1948 War, as well as their descendants, will retain refugee status so long as they do not return to the homes and villages from which they fled – villages and homes that no longer exist.

With over 30,000 personnel, many of whom are proud members of Hamas, UNRWA is the largest U.N. agency, and the only U.N. program dedicated to serving only one group of people –…

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Thursday, July 31st, 2014 at 8:40 AM  | Stand For Israel

Top Secret Hamas Command Center in Gaza Hospital Revealed

(Photo: icrc.org)

(Photo: icrc.org)

As the international media focuses on the civilian casualties in Gaza – faulting the IDF, while assigning no blame to Hamas for using Palestinians as human shields, or for hiding themselves and their weaponry in hospitals, schools, and homes – one might wonder why journalists do not report the whole story. This eye-opening piece at Tablet not only explains the censorship and fear dealt with by reporters on the ground, but also reveals Hamas’ secret command center hidden in Gaza’s largest hospital:

The Israelis are so sure about the location of the Hamas bunker, however, not because they are trying to score propaganda points, or because it has been repeatedly mentioned in passing by Western reporters—but because they built it. Back in 1983, when Israel still ruled Gaza, they built a secure underground operating room and tunnel network beneath Shifa hospital—which is one among several reasons why Israeli security sources are so sure that there is a main Hamas command bunker in or around the large cement basement beneath the area of Building 2 of the Hospital, which reporters are obviously prohibited from entering.

Hamas obviously has no interest in having a photo-layout of one of its command bunkers beneath Shifa Hospital splashed on the front pages of newspapers. After all, such pictures would show that the organization uses the sick and wounded of Gaza as human shields while launching missiles against Israeli civilians. What Hamas wants is for reporters to use very different pictures from Shifa—namely, photos of Palestinians killed and wounded by Israelis, which make Palestinians look like innocent victims of wanton Israeli brutality.

To that end, the rules of reporting from Shifa Hospital are easy for any newbie reporter to understand: No pictures of members of Hamas with their weapons inside the hospital, and don’t go anywhere near the bunkers, or the operating rooms where members of Hamas are treated. While reporters can meet with members of Hamas inside the hospital—because it’s obviously convenient for everyone—they are not allowed to take…

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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 3:31 PM  | Stand For Israel

Breaking News: 3 IDF Soldiers Killed in Explosion, 27 Wounded

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

As the IDF works to find and destroy Hamas’ remaining terror tunnels in Gaza, Arutz Sheva reports that an explosion during an operation today killed three soldiers and wounded 27 more. A tunnel hidden inside a home had been booby-trapped and exploded as the soldiers worked to secure it:

In a statement, the army said they had been killed “while uncovering an offensive tunnel shaft in a residence in the southern Gaza Strip.”

“The house and the tunnel were booby trapped with two explosive devices that were detonated against the soldiers,” it said.

The attack was claimed by Hamas’s “military wing,” the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, which claimed to have killed a group of soldiers during the bombing of a house in Khan Yunis where they were operating, in a statement that was issued earlier in the day.

Twenty-seven (27) additional soldiers were wounded.

We pray for the families of the soldiers who were killed, and for the recovery of all those injured in the explosion.

Update on this incident – 7/31/14

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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 12:36 PM  | Stand For Israel

The Fellowship Increases Security at Jewish Centers Across the World

(Photo: Shneor Schiff)

(Photo: Shneor Schiff)

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein: “During these difficult days, not only are we increasing our support for the citizens of southern Israel through mobile bomb shelters and emergency packages, we are equally committed to supporting and protecting Jewish communities around the world – we go where we are needed.”

As the crisis in Israel continues, there has been a sharp rise in the targeted threats and anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish communities around the world. In light of these escalated security concerns, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and his organization The Fellowship are reinforcing and upgrading security services at Jewish centers worldwide. Rabbi Nechemia Wilhelm of Chabad in Bangkok said, “There is already security around Chabad Houses in Thailand but our fear is that the terrorist organizations will seek to open new fronts against Israel, including targets abroad. The aim is to increase the current security and upgrade it so that Chabad Houses can continue to serve as a warm and safe place for every Israeli.”

The Chabad House in Bangkok, as well as four other Chabad Houses located in popular Israeli tourist destinations in Thailand, are a few of the centers that will receive enhanced security through The Fellowship. Chabad Houses serve as a welcoming and warm environment for thousands of Jewish tourists, and every week they host classes, lectures, kosher meals, and prayer services for their visitors. The open and welcoming nature of Chabad, along with the large Muslim community in Thailand, has turned the Chabad Houses into a potential target for terrorist organizations. The upgrades and reinforcements will include adding more security personnel and additional CCTV cameras, and improving the physical security of the Chabad Houses.

The recent protest at the Israeli embassy in Bangkok included posters declaring “Jews are terrorists.” The crowd also burned Israeli flags. Chabad in Thailand has noted that during previous IDF operations, Chabad Houses were targeted by protesters. Earlier this month, Rabbi Moshe Ohayaon was attacked in Casablanca by a gang of youths, and a synagogue was firebombed in Paris. Last week more synagogues…

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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 11:01 AM  | Stand For Israel

Heartbreak, Courage – and Unity

(Photo: ASHERNET)

(Photo: ASHERNET)

As the toll of Israeli soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge rises, the IDF continues to uncover Hamas’ tunnels and weapons and thwart its planned terrorist attacks. Rabbi Eckstein laments the loss of these brave defenders of Israel, but finds hope in the strength, resilience, and unity shown by Israel’s people and their Christian friends around the world:

In the past few weeks, we have felt that much of the world is against us – the United Nations, certainly, and the Arab world. There are western governments (not to mention the press) that have joined in this chorus of harsh criticism. And around the world we’re seeing a drastic rise in anti-Semitism. In Paris and Belgium, in London and Berlin, Morocco and Turkey, there are violent anti-Israel demonstrations. Synagogues have been attacked, and Jews attacked on the street.

Despite the sobering realities, I have been heartened and touched by our strength and resilience in the face of terror. The people of Israel have really come together, more so than I’ve seen in any other war. Perhaps this is because everyone knows that this war was forced on us, and that we need to defend ourselves against missiles being directed at our civilian population and against the terrorists who enter our country to kidnap and kill. No nation concerned for the welfare of its people would shirk its duty by simply sitting back and letting those cowardly attacks happen.

One moment stays in my mind: Last week, as I came back from my visit to towns along the Gaza border that have taken the brunt of Hamas’ ruthless terrorist war, I passed an IDF patrol that checks on people and cars coming in and out of Israel. There was a soldier passing out flowers to each passenger car, thanking us for our solidarity with the soldiers. People are coming out of the woodwork, bringing everything – food, candy, flowers, chocolates, toiletries – to help the soldiers who are out in the field.

It’s a somber…

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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 10:52 AM  | Stand For Israel

Rockets Found in UNRWA School for a Third Time

UNRWA-logo-724x1024Stand for Israel has been reporting on the recent frequency of terrorist rockets being found in United Nations-operated schools. And as we noted in today’s Daily Dispatch, rockets were again found in a UNRWA-run school in Gaza on Tuesday. The Times of Israel reports that this is the third such occurrence since the onset of Operation Protective Edge:

In its press release, UNRWA’s spokesperson said that the discovery was made during a routine inspection of the school, “which was closed for the summer and not being used as a shelter.”

“All the relevant parties have been notified,” UNRWA said, without elaborating which parties. Hamas, the terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, has launched over 2,000 of rockets at Israel in the past month …

Despite announcing the discovery, UNRWA could not send a UN munitions expert to disarm and remove the weapons “because of fighting in the vicinity,” it said in a statement. “But we hope to do as soon as the security conditions allow.”

It was not clear from the statement where the school was, how many rockets Hamas or one of the other Palestinian terror groups stored at the UN facility, or where the weapons are now.

Tuesday’s incident was the third instance in which Palestinian armaments were found in UN facilities in the Gaza Strip …

In Jerusalem, officials charged that the weaponry was returned to Hamas. “The rockets were passed on to the government authorities in Gaza, which is Hamas. In other words, UNRWA handed to Hamas rockets that could well be shot at Israel,” a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel.

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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 9:37 AM  | Stand For Israel

Israel Must Choose Life

(Photo: flickr/ babi_santander)

(Photo: flickr/ babi_santander)

After Israel unanimously rejected John Kerry and the Obama administration’s weekend ceasefire proposal, Operation Protective Edge continues to be waged. Writing at Israel Hayom, Dr. Haim Shine says that this unity among Israelis shows a people who have chosen to live:

However, once Israelis realize they are fighting a true war for their home, there is no Left or Right, no rich or poor, and no divide between residents of Tel Aviv and residents of the rest of the country. The various strands of Israeli society, usually loose, come together as a deadly fist to strike those who rise up against us.

Israeli citizens are grateful for the generous support American governments have provided during both times of peace and times of war. This support allowed for the development of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system. The U.S. has also helped Israel stay on its feet in the international diplomatic arena against a hostile world, which, instead of being anti-Israel, has become anti-Semitic. But given the choice between protecting our right to live and showing gratitude, Israel must choose life. Choosing life is the ultimate Jewish commandment.

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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 8:28 AM  | Stand For Israel
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Rabbi's Commentary
Heartbreak, Courage - and Unity

The news from Israel has been heartbreaking. Ten more IDF soldiers were killed yesterday, five while fighting Hamas terrorists who crossed into Israel through tunnels…


Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »

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