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Standing with the residents of Sderot and Ashkelon as the war with Hamas continues

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Joel meets with several Sderot residents in the new food distribution facility

My team and I were in the Israeli town of Sderot again on Monday, meeting with several local residents in a new food distribution facility that The Joshua Fund is helping to finance and establish.

Joshua Fund is helping a Jewish group in Sderot outfit a storefront to stock and distribute food for the needy

The shelving is all in place now and basic renovations are almost complete. Lord willing, on Wednesday a grocery store truck will arrive to stock this facility with food that will then be distributed to those Sderot residents in severe need.

A bomb shelter in Sderot

This is an older bomb shelter in Sderot. It used to be fine to protect residents from small Kassam rockets. Today, however, Hamas is using larger Kassams, and thus new bomb shelters have had to be built to provide more protection.

Inside an older bomb shelter in Sderot.

Just moments after my colleagues snapped this picture of me inside an older bomb shelter, we heard two "Code Red" alerts -- one after another -- warning us of incoming rockets. When a "Code Red" sounds, you have no more than 15 seconds to find protection. By God's grace, we were able to get into a newer bomb shelter just up the road, near an elementary school. We huddled with several Sderot residents, including a mother trying to comfort her terrified child who had just gotten out of school.

We saw Israeli military convoys moving equipment into position for what could be an accelerated urban offensive, though a final decison to crush Hamas has not yet been made by the Olmert government.

We saw Israeli military convoys moving equipment into position for what could be an accelerated urban offensive, though a final decison to crush Hamas has not yet been made by the Olmert government.

Minutes after we experienced two "Code Red" alerts and heard two Kassam rockets "boom" near us, we moved up to ridge overlooking Gaza. There we saw Israeli tanks and helicopters firing back at Hamas positions.

Minutes after we experienced the two "Code Red" alerts and heard two Kassam rockets "boom" near us, we moved up to ridge overlooking Gaza. There we saw Israeli tanks and helicopters firing back at Hamas positions.

I interviewed John Moser, Joshua Fund's executive director, and Jeremy Grafman, our Director of Special Projects, for a documentary film project we're working on called "Operation Epicenter."

I interviewed John Moser, Joshua Fund's executive director, and Jeremy Grafman, our Director of Special Projects, for a documentary film project we're working on called "Operation Epicenter."

After spending about four hours in Sderot, we spent several hours at the Barzilai Medical Center. This is the only Israeli hospital serving the half million Israelis living near the Gaza border, as well as some Palestinians who need urgent treatment. The Joshua Fund has been helping finance the purchase of much-needed medical equipment for Barzilai. We received briefings on the latest developments from the hospital's admistrators, several of whom are becoming warm friends, and had the privilege of visiting an Israeli civilian patient who was severely wounded by a Hamas rocket on Saturday in his home in Ashkelon. I was then interviewed by Israel's Channel One news on what The Joshua Fund is and why we are working to mobilize millions of Christians around the world to bless Israelis and innocent Palestinians. "This is the time for true followers of Jesus Christ to stand with Israel, bless Israel, and show all the people of Israel -- and especially those in the South -- unconditional love and unwavering support."

After spending about four hours in Sderot, we spent several hours at the Barzilai Medical Center. This is the only Israeli hospital serving the half million Israelis living near the Gaza border, as well as some Palestinians who need urgent treatment. The Joshua Fund has been helping finance the purchase of much-needed medical equipment for Barzilai. We received briefings on the latest developments from the hospital's admistrators, several of whom are becoming warm friends, and had the privilege of visiting an Israeli civilian patient who was severely wounded by a Hamas rocket on Saturday in his home in Ashkelon. I was then interviewed by Israel's Channel One news on what The Joshua Fund is and why we are working to mobilize millions of Christians around the world to bless Israelis and innocent Palestinians. "This is the time for true followers of Jesus Christ to stand with Israel, bless Israel, and show all the people of Israel -- and especially those in the South -- unconditional love and unwavering support."

KEY WEDNESDAY HEADLINES TO TRACK:

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Must read excerpts from a story in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz Tuesday:

Shin Bet: 565 rockets, 200 mortar shells fired at Israel since start of Gaza op
By Yanir Yanga, Haaretz

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fired some 565 rockets and 200 mortar shells at southern Israel since the Israel Defense Forces launched its offensive on the Hamas-ruled coastal territory on December 27, the Shin Bet announced on Tuesday. According to the Shin Bet investigation, some 530 of the rockets were fired within the first 16 days of the operation. The Shin Bet estimated that another 35 were fired over the course of Monday and Tuesday, but did not include those numbers in its latest report….The report does not detail how many were long-range Katyushas, but various sources estimates they number about 10 percent of the total number of rockets fired. Some 5,700 rockets and another 4,000 mortar shells have been launched at Israel since the beginning of 2005, the Shin Bet said. Of those, more than 2,000 rockets and 1,600 shells were fired in 2008. During the six-month truce between Israel and Gaza which ended in December, some 361 rockets and 303 mortar shells were launched at Israel. This marks an average of a rocket and a mortar shell a day over the course of the cease-fire period. Since the firing began in the year 2000, 19 people were killed by rockets and another 18 by mortar shells. Some 1,272 people have been wounded by rockets and shells since the beginning of the war on Gaza 18 days ago. Gaza militants fired 12 rockets and four mortar shells at Israel’s southern communities on Tuesday morning, continuing the cross-border attacks that Israel has sought to stop in its offensive against Hamas in the coastal strip.One of the rockets exploded near a school in Ashkelon. The strike caused minimal damage, but no casualties….On Monday, Gaza militants fired 19 rockets at the western Negev, one of them scoring a direct hit on a home in the coastal city of Ashkelon. The house’s five residents managed to flee to a bomb shelter before the strike, so there were no casualties. A number of people were treated for shock. Another few rockets were also reported in Sderot and in the central Negev city of Be’er Sheva. Another rocket fired from Gaza exploded in an open field near Kiryat Gat, causing no casualties or damages….

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To learn more about how you can help bless Israelis caught in the crossfire, please go to www.joshuafund.net

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