American philanthropists visiting Israel’s Gaza Envelope come under rocket attack

“Our task force experienced firsthand how life on the border can change in an instant,” said Gaza Envelope Task Force chair Betsy Fischer.

A car struck in southern Israel by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, May 2, 2023. Credit: JNF-USA.
A car struck in southern Israel by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, May 2, 2023. Credit: JNF-USA.

About 30 rockets were launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip following a period of calm in recent weeks. Members of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Gaza Envelope Task Force who were in the region following the organization’s Israel@75 Mission were forced to find shelter.

Jewish National Fund-USA Gaza Envelope Liaison Yedidya Harush said, “Today around 3:20 p.m. [8:20 a.m. US EST], we received an alert that we needed to stay within 15 seconds of a bomb shelter. I immediately rushed to collect my children from school and brought them home. One of my young daughters, who suffers from PTSD, was so scared that she immediately went to sit in our bomb shelter and refused to come out. Thankfully, the Iron Dome has already intercepted some of the rockets. For now, we are safe but all of our activities, including after-school events, have been canceled.”

According to local paramedics, at 3:36 p.m., a call was received in the Lachish Region for a victim with Shrapnel wounds in a building site in Sderot. Magen David Adom EMTs and paramedics treated and evacuated a 25-year-old male found semi-conscious and in a serious condition.

Speaking in a shelter to members of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Gaza Envelope Task Force, Eshkol Security Chief Ilan Isaacson explained some of the difficult choices that parents and schools must make, saying that “when we are alerted to a security situation, schools need to figure out whether it is better to keep children on campus or have their parents collect them. Of course, parents want to be with their children, however, depending on where the school is located, it is sometimes not possible for buses or parents to collect the students due to the rockets.”

Gaza Envelope Task Force chair Betsy Fischer said: “As we [the Gaza Envelope Task Force] were enjoying our last full day of activities, our plans had to change due to the security situation. Not only did we need to reroute our itinerary, but we suddenly discovered that we needed to shelter in place. The entire group was ushered into a sheltered building, which also served as a command center. To see all the community officials reacting to this tense situation was quite an experience. The staff handled the event swiftly and professionally, and everyone remained calm. Our task force experienced firsthand how life on the border can change in an instant. It really drove home the importance of the support we provide and all the work that we do to build resilience in the region.”

Jewish National Fund-USA’s philanthropic investments in the Gaza Envelope and Eshkol Region include fortified schools, indoor play centers, bomb shelters and the recently constructed GrooveTech Center dedicated in honor of Betsy Fischer.

For more information or to support Israel’s residents in the south, visit: jnf.org/gazaenvelope.

Members of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Gaza Envelope Task Force pictured in front of a bomb shelter donated by the organization moments before they were alerted to an impeding rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on May 2, 2023. Credit: JNF-USA.
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Jewish National Fund-USA builds a strong, vibrant future for the land and people of Israel through bold initiatives and Zionist education. As a leading philanthropic movement, the organization supports critical environmental and nation-building activities in Israel’s north and south as it develops new communities in the Negev and Galilee, connects the next generation to Israel, and creates infrastructure and programs that support ecology, people with disabilities, and heritage site preservation, all while running a fully accredited study abroad experience through its Alexander Muss High School in Israel.
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