2 Israelis killed, 2 seriously wounded in West Bank shooting attack
The news of yet another terrorist attack earlier this morning leaves us all reeling. Another two Israeli’s have been murdered with another two left in serious condition, mowed down by gunmen in another drive by shooting just a few yards away from Sunday’s deadly attack.
Two Israelis were killed and two were severely injured, one of them critically, in a shooting attack in the central West Bank Thursday 13th December , close to where a terror attack occurred earlier in the week.
The perpetrators fled the scene of the attack, near the Palestinian town of Silwad and Ofra, an Israeli settlement north of Jerusalem, prompting a large-scale manhunt.
According to the Israel Defence Forces, one gunman left a vehicle along the Route 60 highway and opened fire at a group of Israelis of soldiers and civilians, before running away. Two of the victims died at the scene. One of the wounded, a 21-year-old man, is in critical condition.
“His condition is very serious. There is a threat to his life,” a Hadassah spokesperson said.
The second of the wounded, a female civilian, was seriously injured and taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center’s trauma unit in Jerusalem.
The shooting attack occurred near the Givat Asaf settlement, close to Ofra, where on Sunday a number of terrorists opened fire at a group of people standing at the settlement’s bus stop, hitting seven of them, including a seven-month pregnant woman who was critically injured and whose baby later died as a result of the attack.
Additional infantry battalions were sent into the West Bank both to defend roads and settlements and to conduct additional searches and arrests.
On Wednesday night, the Israeli military arrested a number of suspects who were believed to have carried out Sunday night’s shooting attack and shot dead a third, as he tried to attack Israeli troops during an escape attempt.
For Shira and Amichai Ishran, the future was full of hope and joy. As the attack on Sunday evening started, Amichai tried to shield his wife who was 30-weeks pregnant, but both were shot in the mayhem.
A bullet hit Shira in her stomach, while Amichai was hit in the leg. Rushed to the hospital with Shira in critical condition, their baby boy was delivered prematurely in an emergency cesarean. Yesterday after four days of fighting for his life, their baby boy passed away.
For the Ishran family, the road ahead will be long and challenging. They will need physical, emotional and financial help. One Family has reached out to them to offer assistance and support through the difficult mourning period ahead and as long as they need us.
We will be by their side, as we will be with all those impacted by this morning’s attack and the hundreds of other attacks over the last 16 years.As the end of the year approaches, we urge you to help us with our vital work in Israel go to www.onefamilyuk.org/donate
Children at One Family Camp Share Stories of Progress and Recovery
One Family camp gives bereaved children a chance to come together for a week of fun times and exciting activities. It also lets them spend that time processing their loss, sharing their stories, and learning new coping strategies.
To set the tone, this year’s theme was “progress” – exploring how far the children have come in their recovery.
“For many of the children, progress is a very difficult idea. They feel stuck most of the time,” said Ofir Elgrabli, head of the Youth Division. “So we created programs to help them see that they have moved forward and to think about what has helped them in that process.”
That reflection culminated in the Gala Event at the end of camp, when all of the different divisions come together and some of the children stand up and tell their stories. “We are all different ages and come from different backgrounds,” said May, 15, the event’s co-MC, whose father was killed in the Second Lebanon War. “But tonight, all our stories merge into one big story that contains all of our personal stories.”
Ayelet lost her father in the Second Intifada, when she was only 7 months old. “I do not remember my father and for many years I did not allow myself to feel the pain. Because, why would it hurt? Why should I miss someone I do not know? And every time a feeling came, I immediately blocked it. I did not give it space.
“During my time here in One Family, mainly thanks to my friends – some of whom are just like me – I learned to let myself feel. I learned to give my pain a place. I learned that I too was allowed to long for my father even if I don’t quite understand why. I’m allowed to care.”
Shira’s father was killed in a road shooting. “Terrorists ambushed us and fired more than 200 bullets at our vehicle. My father was murdered on the spot. The rest of the family remained unharmed,” she said.
“I will not lie to you, I am surprised that I am standing here talking to you. In my whole life, I never imagined such a situation,” she said. “It’s hard for me to share and translate words that are in my heart. But as I’ve grown, I have come to understand how important it is to express myself, even if it’s difficult. And in my case it is very difficult.”
During the final event, all four Shaer sisters took the stage together to speak about the experience of losing their brother Gilad, one of the three teens who were kidnapped and killed in 2014.
“Over the years I realized that I wanted to really deal with bereavement, to progress in my own way and not just let life pass me by,” one of the sisters said. “In this organization, I learned to speak, to say what’s good, what hurts and what I need – because this place truly makes things possible.
“Everything I say or feel is met with understanding and inclusion,” she continued. “I can just be me in my own way and that’s all anyone wants.”
Ron lost her brother four years ago in Operation Protective Edge. She came to her first camp a short time later, and this year she reflected on the progress she made in those four years.
“I look at Ron then and Ron today, I see two completely different people,” she said. “I arrived shy and closed up. I did not know what bereavement was or how One Family fit into my life.
“Today I’m a more grown up version of Ron, more open, better able to speak from the heart and express an opinion,” she continued. “Most importantly, bereavement is part of me, but not the only part, and I know how to integrate it into life.”
Moriah spoke about the process she went through since her older brother Eliav was murdered two years ago. “When my brother was killed, I thought that if I dealt with bereavement and mourning, I would fall and shatter. I was really scared. I did not want to look weak, so I repressed it and just carried on with my life.”
Things started to change, she said, when she received a phone call from a coordinator from One Family inviting her to join the Youth Division. “I was excited to join One Family. At the same time, I was also afraid,” she said. “I realized that if I went and felt that I belonged here, then it must be that I’m a bereaved sister. I understood I was choosing not to deny the reality anymore.
Still, she said, she was apprehensive about attending her first event, not ready to dive into deep discussions about bereavement. “Gradually, I discovered that here we are simply together, living life, and learning to live with our bereavement. I met others like me, who are dealing with the same thing.
“From the time that I came here, I started to move forward,” she added. “I felt that I may have lost a brother but I gained many brothers and sisters.
“My group has become an inseparable part of me and of my life. For me, this is where it I started to move, to live with the truth without repressing it, to learn how to live with it intensely, and how to transform the pain into growth.
“If in the beginning I thought I had to choose between living and bereavement, today I understand that it all comes together, that slowly we learn to live with the bereavement, and even live well.”
Victims of terror have attended events in Israel this year supporting their needs and making new friends.
Read more about them all here:
Our newsletter will be available soon featuring many more news items and ways in which you can help support victims of terror.
Terror victims Purim party
At the Purim party this year Chantal Belzberg spoke about the idea of masks and victim of terror put on a mask every day and so did the deputy speaker of the Knesset who is a victim of terror herself. MK Yehuda Glick also urged the victims to take strength from Purim.
All the staff dressed up and it was a very special evening.
One lady who I spent some time with was injured in the April 18 bus bombing last year. Today her face was glowing and she looked so healthy, yet obviously still carrying the pain of what she went through.
This was the first OF event she said she was attending. Interesting enough she worked for many years in 8200 – Israel secret unit.
Her training clearly helped save her life but she was so representative of the human spirit and the wonders of medicine. A true heroine of Israel. She said she appreciates One Family so much but she finds it hard to talk to others because she has been trained for so many years not to talk, but now she is learning to be a civilian and hopes to attend more events in the future.
Another incredible man was someone from Beit Shean who was in a terror attack where he was shot eight times in his face and body but he has such an “or panim- a light in his face” it was so amazing to meet him.
There were so many special people gathered together under the auspices of One Family .The One Family Bereaved Men’s Choir gave a brilliant performance at our Purim Party. Click on the photo to see and hear for yourself. Every member of the choir has lost a child. They come together to support each other by singing. They meet once a week. Please show your support by inviting them to perform in your community.
Widowed Yoga Instructor Holds Three-Day Workshop by the Sea
Bereaved mothers participate in therapeutic yoga workshop led by yoga instructor, Miri, a victim of terror who uses yoga to help heal the pain.
“Miri enriched us, both our bodies and our souls! She helped us breathe, release and heal our pain,” one participant told One Family after the workshop. “I felt strengthened spending these days with the group; the strength of each woman who had similar experiences to me was something I found deeply empowering.”
Orphans of Both Parents Honoured at Reception at President’s Residence
President Reuven Rivlin showed his support for One Family and victims of terror at a special Tu B’Shvat seder with members of our Orphans Division, who lost both parents in terrorist attacks
Bereaved Parents Bond and Heal to prepare for Yom Hazikaron
Each year, One Family holds a healing retreat for bereaved parents on the Shabbat before Yom Hazikaron to strengthen the families as they prepare for one of the most intense and difficult and days of the year.
This year, more than 340 people took part in the three-day retreat, held at a hotel outside Jerusalem. The couples participated in bonding activities, therapeutic workshops, and group therapy sessions.
Most importantly, they spent time with one another, in a setting that allowed them to speak freely about the children they lost to terror. We call that The Power of Together. Instead of spending energy holding their feelings inside , the bereaved parents were among hundreds of other people who understood the challenges they face and they were able to focus on their loss, so they could meet Memorial Day with strength and confidence.
Following the retreat, many of the parents wrote letters of thanks for helping them find the inner strength they need to face both the day of remembering and the coming year.
Women’s seminar for victims of terror
In July, One Family hosted an amazing seminar for nearly 600 women – orphans and widows, younger and older – who came together for a day inspiration and empowerment. The theme was “baseless love” and the love spread through the hall thanks to rousing speeches from – Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi, Lihi Lapid, MK Ayelet Shaked, Renana Meir Cohen and Sivan Rahav-Meir and more.
Widows retreat in August
In August there was a three-day Widows retreat in Kfar Giladi for widows and their children. Summer is a particularly hard time for widows, so to help make the summer vacation a little easier, One Family widows enjoyed activities with their children including Trampoline Park, rafting and relaxing in the hotel swimming pool! The retreat gave a special opportunity for the widows to connect to their children in a relaxed environment without the strain and pressure of everyday life that the widows have had to cope with following the murder of their spouse.
Sukkot at One Family for victims of terror
One Family offered its supporters the opportunity to purchase a lulav and etrog set and to raise money for One Family.
One Family friends and supporters to visit terror victims in their sukkah.
The Youth Division held a number of activities for its members during this holiday time, including day trips to a surfing school in Tel Aviv, a scavenger hunt in Jerusalem, an outdoor activity park in Holon and in the Gush and also the Senior Youth Division welcomed new members with a midnight hike through the Negev.
Mount Hermon retreat
In February, 350 injured victims and their families attended a day retreat in Mt Hermon.
Inspiration and Resilience at the Jerusalem Marathon
More than 300 athletes joined Team One Family at the Marathon this year. Victims of terror and their supporters ran side-by-side, and many more joined the team to cheer the runners on and keep spirits high throughout the day.
It was a show of defiance for terror victims, many of whom were injured or bereaved in Jerusalem. For some, it was a return to the very place where their trauma took place.
“The streets of Jerusalem have seen too many tragedies,” said One Family CEO Chantal Belzberg. “Running through these same streets with pride, not fear, is a powerful statement that terrorism won’t succeed, and that we can overcome terror together.”
This year’s team included terror victims Renana Meir, whose mother Dafna was stabbed to death in her own home in 2016; Hadas Mizrahi, who was severely injured and her husband Baruch was killed in a road shooting on the way to the family Seder just before Passover in 2014; and Naftali Moses, whose son Avraham David was killed in the attack on the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in 2008.
Other terror victims included children from One Family’s Youth Division, who ran alongside their counsellors and supporters.
“Seeing all of the red One Family t-shirts all around was extremely uplifting,” said Renana Meir. “It showed me that people really care, and that is a truly empowering feeling.”
One Family Soccer Team Wins Eilat Tournament
The One Family Soccer Team took first place in it’s division at the Mehuziota sports tournament in Eilat, showing that the Power of Together can translate into success on the football pitch as well as in their lives.
Although the team’s coach, Ami Ben-David, and players speak about the Mehuziota weekend as a therapeutic opportunity to bond first and soccer second, Ziv Hellman, coordinator of One Family’s Young Adult Division said the two goals have a deeper relationship than people realise.
“What we saw in the games, the great teamwork and cooperation, is really just a mirror of what we were seeing the whole weekend,” he said. “All of the time we were spending together, building trust and understanding, was exactly what made us so successful in the games.”
The team, made up of injured or bereaved victims of terror, is a support group built around the player’s love for soccer. The group meets monthly for social evenings and plays soccer games in a business league in Jerusalem.
The team was joined this year by 3-year-old Natan Bennett, who was made an honorary member of the team. Natan’s father Aharon Bennett was killed in a terrorist attack in 2015. His mother was badly injured and he himself badly injured his foot.
It’s been a busy year and we look forward to supporting the victims at One Family in the year ahead. We hope you have enjoyed reading about our events, if you would like to support the work of one Family UK please go to www.onefamilyuk.org/donate
The summer retreat has arrived and for children who have lost a mother, father, brother or sister in a terrorist attack, fun isn’t a major part of their lives. But all of that changes when they arrive at One Family summer camp.
For six days, bereaved children allow themselves to be children again. That’s the magic that happens when they are with other children who have experienced the same type of loss.
During the year One Family’s Youth Division helps bereaved children by forging relationships between them and their volunteer counselors. The counselors make regular visits to their homes, particularly on their birthdays and the anniversary of the death of their family members. They speak on the phone weekly.
The relationship is deepened throughout the year at One Family events. The pinnacle of which is Summer Camp, where the counselors spend a week with the campers, bonding and providing emotional support.
That’s why the 300 campers and 60 counselors look forward to the start of camp all summer. When they are under the weather as the camp is due to begin, one camper said, they’ll do whatever they need to do to feel better so they can be at camp.
At One Family Camp, children who have lost siblings or parents to terror do not need to stifle their feelings, as they often do in their everyday lives. They are free to be themselves with others who are struggling with the same challenges.
Throughout the year, they feel different from others. At the One Family camp, they feel normal. As one of our campers said, “As soon as I stepped off the bus to start camp, I felt like myself again for the first time since the tragedy.”
That feeling is the gateway to healing. And it’s happening right now.
We wish you were there to see it in person. The pictures below capture some of the fun, excitement, and bonding we see each day at camp.
One Family aims to rehabilitate victims by ensuring that they have emotional and physical support to enable them to live fully functional lives, such as being able to care for the families, return to work, study, integrate fully back into society and have group support to enable this. Central to healing is One Family’s therapeutic structure that incorporates support groups, therapy workshops, healing retreats and psychological counselling.
The priority of the organisation is to care for youth whose main activity includes running three camps a year, weekend retreats, individual and group counselling, a mentor program which provides emotional support and guidance to children deemed to be emotionally and physically needy, this is the Big Brother and Sister Program.
Itai and his Big Brother cook together at One Family
Itai and his Big Brother cook together at One Family
For 10-year old Cheli, life was at its best when her older brother Benny was around. He would lavish her with attention and take her to fun places whenever he had the chance. The siblings had the kind of bond that comes from growing up with a single-parent home. They learned to look out for one another.
So when news came that Benny was killed by a terrorist while on guard duty in the army, Cheli was devastated. In a split second, one of the most important people in her life was gone forever. The void that opened was enormous. It felt like her childhood had been ripped away from her.
Twelve-year old Itai also suffered a shattering loss. In 2014, his father was killed in a road shooting that also left Itai and his mother wounded. Since then, he and his two brothers and two sisters have had to grow up not only without their beloved father but also without a stable male role model in their lives.
Cheli and Itai (as well as his two brothers) are part of One Family’s Big Brother/Sister program, which pairs children who need direct and ongoing attention with a caring older role model who will maintain regular, ongoing contact.
Most of the 30 pairs currently in the program meet up weekly, sometimes even twice a week for outings and chats. Most importantly, they help fill the void that’s left with the loss of a parent and sibling, providing unconditional love, a safe space to express feelings, and a chance to feel like regular children doing the thing they love.
Strong Emotional Guidance and Deep Bonds
Cheli with her Big Sister
The activities of the big and little brothers and sisters are as varied as the children themselves but the purpose is always the same – to let the children know someone cares and is there for them for friendship, emotional support, and help overcoming the difficulties of growing up in their painful circumstances.
For Itai and his Big Brother Ze’ev, that means spending time processing the trauma Itai experienced. By building a close bond, they have created a safe place for Itai to talk about his father and what Itai can learn from him.
For Cheli, having a Big Sister is a chance to enjoy simple childhood experiences and a break from the difficult and painful atmosphere at home.
Others, like Rachel, whose mother was killed in a suicide bombing, get to feel some of the maternal bond they are missing and benefit from the advice and guidance from someone who understands her needs.
Tal and her Big Sister like to chat while cooking together, and even put together a booklet of their favourite recipes. The strong bond between them provides Tal with a place where feels safe to talk about her loss.
Or Hadash lost his father in 2010. His Big Brother serves as a mature male role model who provides stability and security after many years without a father figure in his life.
A number of other children like to go hiking or swimming in springs with their Big Brothers or Sisters, activities that would not be possible on their own. And since many of them come from shattered families where the parents themselves are coping with loss or injury, the Big Brother program provides the only opportunity.
Someone Devoted Just to Them
Tal and her Big Sister doing what they love to do – cook
All of the children in One Family’s Youth Division have counselors assigned to them and speak on the phone each week and see each other monthly. But the Big Brother program is more intensive, with each Big Brother or Big Sister devoted to only one child whom they see each week as well as special occasions such as birthdays and the anniversary of their loved one’s death.
Because the Big Brothers and Sisters play a vital role in the lives of the children, they are uniquely positioned to monitor the children’s growth and progress, and are the first to notice any negative patterns that may develop. This helps the children deal with problems as early as possible, before they impact their lives.
The relationships also give the Big Brothers and Sisters an opportunity to guide and mentor the children and lead them towards a brighter future. They help children who have suffered move through the fragile stages of childhood. They fill in spaces that would otherwise remain open wounds.
The results are easily apparent to anyone who sees the children in the beginning of the process and at the end. Children who are shy start to open up to the world, and many of them go on to serve in elite units in the army and then successful professional careers.
Most importantly, they help them heal on the inside and outside. And that makes all the difference.
Coping with daily reports which we read, hear or see on TV is increasingly difficult ,here we outline coping mechanisms which can prove invaluable.
Daily we hear on the news of thousands buried under rubble after an earthquake, countless migrants drowning in the Mediterranean trying to get away from wars to a safer shore, hordes of people in refugee camps with food and water in short supply, children used in the sex trade, police shootings, fires and floods, polar bears drowning from lack of ice flows, and worsening drought in California…and we are assured that these things will only get worse.
Not all the news is really bad, but people are more likely to watch TV or read about some catastrophe somewhere in the world or a robbery in our town than a hopeful story.
Dr Amy Farabaugh writes: “Modern news coverage sometimes focuses on violent, shocking, or disturbing content that is intended to attract attention and generate an emotional reaction in the audience.” So the media follows the dictate: “If it bleeds, it leads,” and spins even neutral stories negatively. All of this may attract readers and viewers, but it is not an accurate picture of the state of our world if it only deals with the negatives.
Bad news has so much power because we have a visceral reaction when we hear or see it, we are literally hit in our gut. Many people get really anxious or depressed when exposed to so much suffering and turmoil. Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate, had a special newspaper printed for him with only good news. Pessimistic people may actually look for depressing or anxiety producing stories to reinforce their views of the world. Even I, though tending to be optimistic, get upset and have a heartache about the suffering, starving, displaced, frightened children in the newspaper photos.
Marian Preble, told the story of two little girls playing in a rose garden, one came running to her mother terribly upset about all the thorns that could prick her fingers, but the other came back all excited about the beautiful roses growing everywhere.
Dr. Richard A. Friedman, clinical psychiatry professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, has found a genetic variation in the brain that makes some people able to cope better with bad news, forgetting bad experiences, while others tend to remember every detail of negative events and perceive them all as having equal weight, so that the loss of a good parking spot seems as terrible as the loss of an heirloom.
Certain announcements (“You’re fired,” “I want to break up,” “There’s been an accident”) have a way of slamming into your life like a wrecking ball. When they do, researchers have discovered a healthy way to cope: a simple technique called self-distancing.
Rather than immersing oneself in the bad news and sinking into obsessive analysis, “self-distancing essentially gives you a psychological time-out,” says Ethan Kross, PhD, “It involves taking a mental step back from a painful episode. You become a fly on the wall, watching yourself in the experience and reflecting on it from a distance.
Meditation is used by many as an antidote to the constant stimuli battering their brains. Coping with bad news by going for a walk, being in nature, and looking at trees were also frequently mentioned. Being part of a support group where problems can be shared is helpful to some. One idea of particular interest is making a rule that for the next meal the conversation cannot touch on medical, family problems or politics. The topics suggested are books one is reading, worthwhile journal articles, and the positive actions one is taking—in other words, talking about ideas, intellectual pursuits, and all the fun stuff.
The way Dr Amy Farabaugh deals with her own sadness of the coming demise of the polar bears is by remembering how evolution works: species come and species go. The polar bears may become extinct, however, some have begun mating with brown bears, so she is looking forward to a whole new species of speckled or striped bears. You cannot do anything about suffering multitudes, but if you turn to the problems of children in the city, you have some leverage by either funding a program or speaking up on behalf of some organisation that is making a difference.
In one experiment, Kross and his colleagues asked students to think of a difficult episode from their past. Those in one group were told to relive the event as if it were happening again; the others were instructed to visualize moving away from the situation to a vantage point where they could watch themselves in the unfolding drama as if it were a video. The self-distancing group not only felt less distressed but registered notably lower blood pressure. “This distancing,” Kross says, “facilitates the ability to work through the event, leading people to have insights that buffer them against future negative reactions. If you ask them to recall the same experience a week later, they don’t become as upset as people who don’t distance. They also ruminate less.”
So focus on what you can control
Discuss the troublesome news with others to try to get a different perspective;
Pay attention to upbeat stories, heroes are everywhere
Look for news of new research
Look at innovations in technology, medicine, design, art, or architecture; meditate; list five things you were grateful for today
Take a walk
Talk to a friend
Listen to music
Whenever bad feelings recur, try distancing
Mentally take a step back so you can visualise yourself in the experience—it’s now happening to the person (you) over there.
Ask why this person is reacting the way she is. (Don’t focus on what happened, or you’ll become overwhelmed with negative feelings.)
As you watch the person go through the event, try to make sense of why they are having these feelings
Refugee children have been left to fend for themselves as the civil war in Syria appears to draw to a close and the world decides how to help these victims of terror and when it will act. The UN stands by and speaks out.
But, Israelis have decided to act themselves as time slips by and help the refugee children of Aleppo and Syria.
In this post we reveal the stories behind the headlines and learn of selfless actions which support refugee children in Syria.
While Israel has decided not to take part in the conflict that has ravaged its Syrian neighbor for five years, the fighting between various factions taking place on its border in the Golan Heights and the horror confronting its civilians has sometimes pushed the Jewish State and its citizens to act.
This is especially the case of the “Bus of Angels” project, initiated by Israeli non-profit organisation Amalia, whose objective is to transfer Syrian children to Israeli medical centers for treatment. Amalia is an Israel-based charity providing health care for displaced Syrian women and children by taking them to Israeli hospitals is breaking down stereotypes and historical enmities, one case at a time.
i24news met with Moti Kahana, who initiated the project, and who has for several years sought to increase the initiatives to bring aid to Syrian civilians.
In an interview broadcast on i24news‘ French-language “L’Hebdo” program, Kahana explained that the idea for the project was born from exchanges with Syrians who had managed to cross the Israeli border. According to them, the most important thing was to provide medical assistance to civilians.
Mordechai ‘Moti’ Kahana, an Israeli-American businessman and philanthropist, poured his own money into helping those displaced by the Syrian civil war in 2011. He sold his company and founded Amaliah, a New York-run charity focused on getting aid into the war-torn country., in 2013.
Mr Kahana told The Independent he was inspired to devote his time to helping the victims of Syria’s complex war after a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem in 2010. “Never again – not to us and to no one else,” he said.
“I cannot let these people suffer and die and walk away from it. I just cannot do it.”
To achieve this, however, it was necessary to convince the Israeli government to allow the entry of Syrian citizens into its territory, something which took years. According to Kahana, it was the terrible reality on the ground that eventually persuaded the authorities to respond positively to his request.
Kahana acknowledges his project’s modest contribution. So far, only three buses have been chartered.
“We have set up a pilot program to see how it works, and it has worked very well and the reactions have been very positive,” he told i24news.
“Our goal is to bring more than 10,000 women and children to Israel in 2017. People come in and go home at the end of the day, everything is funded by our organisation. That is, the Israelis do not pay for it, its the world that pays via donations. It shows that there is still hope,” Kahana said.
The 48-year old Israeli, who has devoted his life to humanitarianism, also hopes that when those Syrian children who have been cared for in Israel become adults, “they will remember who were there enemies, and mostly who were their friends.”
But it is mainly the lessons of history that inspired Kahana. Speaking to i24news, Kahana recalls the famous poem of the Pastor Martin Niemöller on the cowardice of German intellectuals at the time the Nazis rose to power, which has been engraved on a wall at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
“When they came to fetch the Communists, I did not say anything, I was not a Communist, when they came to look for the Jews, I said nothing, I was not a Jew. And there was no one left to protest…” the poem reads.
“If we [the Jews] believe that we can watch what happens without engaging ourselves, and let Aleppo fall, let us remember the poem at Yad Vashem: ‘they will come for us.’ And I tell you, they will come. Their goal is to capture the entire Middle East, and they are on the way, step by step,” he warned.
Kahana, an idealist, concludes on a positive note: “I no longer believe in the power of politicians, but I have not lost faith in humanity…We the people can stop the war in Syria.”
For the sake of Syrian civilians, may he speak the truth.
Mr Kahana had to convince the Israeli authorities to let Amaliah operate despite the safety concerns, coordinating with both the Israeli Defence Forces and the Free Syrian Army rebel alliance to reach people in need.
As of September, Amaliah has managed to start a healthcare programme which takes buses of women and children from southern Syria across the border to Israeli medical facilities for check-ups and treatment at day clinics.
“In just one day we can save a kid’s life from suffering, infection. Some kids they come in with one eye, they can’t see,” Mr Kahana said. “In Syria they cannot take care of it. In hospital [in Israel] one hour later, that’s it, the kid can actually see again.”
Demand for Amaliah’s services is overwhelming. It is the only aid organisation of its kind operating in south Syria, and thousands of people get in touch through social media every day, the charity says.
Many of the adults and children treated haven’t seen a doctor in years, and those children in need of serious care end up staying.
The Israeli state has by and large tried to stay out of Syria’s bloody civil war. The initiative is notable for how it upends the political enmity traditionally felt by citizens of the two countries.
“I think they’re actually probably really hesitant to go to Israel for the first time, it takes them time to warm up and once they see that we’re here to help them,” Betsy Laikin, Amaliah’s media director, told Israeli TV.
An American-Jewish organisation working out of Israel to help Syrians, does surprise people, Ms Laikin added. But Mr Kahana’s efforts to help deal with the war’s fallout over the past few years has strengthened relationships between the charity with Syrians both inside the country and those who have left, she said.
Each bus can transport around 45 people at a time. Amaliah is aiming for one more trip before the end of the year, and hopes to give 10,000 Syrian civilians access to medical treatment at Ziv Medical Center in Safed in 2017.
The charity’s greater aim is to support projects that create partnership, stability and prosperity with the Middle East, their website reads.
Fed up of ‘standing idly by’, activists in the Jewish state have raised more than £200,000 for Syrians in need recently.
Israelis fed up of “standing idly by” have promised to help hundreds of thousands of Syrian children left stranded and starving after the Russian and Syrian governments reduced Syria’s biggest city to rubble.
Organisers of the grassroots effort ‘Just Beyond the Border’ said they were bypassing Israeli government inaction and taking direct action, motivated by memories of the Holocaust.
“Hundreds of thousands of children are now refugees, orphans, torn apart from the world they knew,” the group said. “They are just trying to survive the cold winter.”
They have so far raised more than £200,000 from more than 5,300 individual donors, and have enlisted the help of Israeli Flying Aid to deliver blankets, medicine, sanitation kits and baby food.
Organiser Yoav Bakshi Yeivin said: “As an Israeli child I grew up asking where the world was when we needed them most. As a Jew I always knew that I was expected to be there, to help and lend a hand. There is no nation that knows better than us how lethal apathy can be.”
He said the world was “watching, considering its options,” but added: “As an Israeli, a Jew and a neighbour I can’t just stand idly by.”
Another organiser, Shivi Froman, said: “The reality in Syria is complicated for us as Israelis but inaction is not an option. We want to take children out of the equation because children are children and they deserve assistance irrespective of how complex the reality might be.”
A Syrian refugee now living in Turkey has created a website to acknowledge the help that Israel, and Jews worldwide, have been providing to displaced residents of his native country.
39-year-old Aboud Dandachi, who worked in high-tech before the war, created a website called Thank you Am Israel, which links to stories documenting aid provided by Israel, as well as global Jewish organisations, given to his countrymen during the civil war that has killed over 250,000 and forced millions from their homes.
Dandachi told Ynet on Friday that he grew up being told that “the Jews are evil,” but over the past five years, he has seen that “the Jews are the most humane and generous people of this era. When I see that Hezbollah and the Iranians are coming to kill me and I’m forced from my home by Syrians, and then I hear that Israelis and Jews are helping Syrians, my view of the world changes.”
Dandachi suggested that when the civil war is over, Syria should make peace with Israel, as “there no reason for us to be in a conflict with Israelis.” He praised Israel for “doing exactly what it must do.”
It is not taking part in the war, but is helping wounded Syrians who need help. And it’s not only the government. Israelis are helping Syrian refugees in Jordan, in Greece, Serbia, North America. No one would have blamed the Jews and the Israelis if they had said it was not their problem. That is, by the way, what many Arabs and Arab countries did. The Gulf states, for example, shut their doors to Syrians – and these are the countries that call themselves friends of Syria….
Dandachi created his website last December, because “we as Syrians cannot give back to Jews what they give to us, so we should at least thank them.”
He explained the motivations behind his website on its “about” page:
It is said that one of the truest moral tests of a society is in how it treats those in need, and who have nothing to offer in return save for gratitude. It is a challenge that this generation of Israelis and Jews have met with exemplary generosity and charity, and it is that generosity that Thank You Am Israel was set up in acknowledgment and appreciation of.
Thank you to the people of Israel and the Jewish people the world over, for showing kindness and charity to Syrians, whether it is through your IDF medical teams, your aid workers in Greece and the Balkans, or your congregations in North America raising money to aid and sponsor Syrian refugees. God bless you and protect you.
In Humanitarian Heroes in a Wrathful World, which was published in the November 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Nathan Jeffay described the efforts of the Israel-based nonprofit IsraAID to rescue and rehabilitate Syrian refugees in Greece.
As boat after boat arrives at the Greek island of Lesbos, the refugees aboard are met by a cacophony of languages from aid workers offering help. But there is only one team of aid workers from the Middle East that can talk to these refugees from Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in their own language. To their surprise, it is the Israeli team.
“It feels like I dreamed it,” said a bemused 26-year-old man from Damascus. “I never thought an Israeli would treat me.” His wife had just received medical help from IsraAID, a humanitarian aid agency that started working on the European refugee crisis in September. It currently has a team in Lesbos and another on the Serbia-Croatia border.
The Israeli team checked his wife, who is nine months pregnant, as she stepped off the boat, and took her to the hospital for emergency treatment. “I wouldn’t have known that she was not okay, and because of them I knew to get her attention,” he said.
Lesbos lies on a stretch of Greek coastline that faces Turkey. And it is from Turkey that the refugee boats are dispatched by cynical human traffickers. They will pack 50 people into a boat meant for 20 and take U.S. $1,700 from each. Then they designate a driver from among the refugees, and take no further interest in whether they survive or sink. Piles of abandoned boats and lifejackets give a sense of just how many thousands of refugees have passed through here in recent weeks.
Two members of the IsraAID team—a nurse and a doctor—are stationed on the shore night and day, and race to meet every boat that arrives. If the weather is bad and the boats stop 10 to 20 meters from shore, they wade out to carry children and help the elderly. If the weather is good, they wait on shore with blankets and food. Then they give IV drips to the dehydrated and treatment to the injured. The refugees are usually relived to find aid workers who speak Arabic, and bombard them with questions about the Greek bureaucracy’s procedures for refugees.
Israel has spent years trying to avoid getting sucked into the vicious civil war raging in neighboring Syria. It’s now wading into the conflict in a way you wouldn’t expect.
On Tuesday 20 December 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he has ordered his government to “find ways” to bring injured civilians from Aleppo, Syria, to Israeli hospitals. That could clear the way for hundreds of Syrian refugees, a country still technically at war with Israel, to cross into the country at the express invitation of a Prime Minister normally known for his hard-line positions on Iran, the Palestinians, and other issues.
Israel, which shares a long border with the war-torn country, has already treated thousands of both civilians and rebel fighters in field hospitals located right along the border. There has been intense fighting on the Syrian side — including occasional strikes carried out by Israel itself against ISIS targets, such as a strike in late November on a vehicle carrying four operatives from an ISIS-linked group that had opened fire at an Israeli patrol.
One such Israeli-run field hospital, the Ziv Medical Center, has treated more than 2,500 Syrians since 2013, when the civil war began, according to Dr. Salman Zarka, the hospital’s director.
But Netanyahu’s announcement marks the first time Israel has offered to take Syrians wounded on distant battlefields into Israel itself. The city of Aleppo, which has been the bloody epicenter of the fight for control of Syria for the past year, is located almost 400 miles away from the Israeli border.
Israel will continue to assist its refugee neighbours in this terrible times .
One Family provide ongoing support for victims of terror with a personal and caring touch.
We forge a sense of family among all the victims through support groups, retreats, camps and other programs, fostering an environment of mutual emotional and psychological support.
Therapeutic Empowering Photography Journey to Greece
In April 2016, a group of 31 bereaved siblings from the young adult division, embarked on a four day empowering journey to Salonika in Greece. “Using photography as a tool for therapy each participant was able to take a new perspective on what they see, to zoom in or out on any details they choose -life’s details”, said Meirav Uziel, the trip coordinator.
This four-day empowering journey was specifically designed for young adults who have lost siblings or parents during the current wave of terror, or from wars or earlier terrorist attacks to create a brotherhood between the participants. The group consisted of “seniors” – those who experienced bereavement for some time, alongside “newcomers” who recently entered the world of bereavement. The combination helped newcomers see that life continues after the loss of a loved one, and it helps seniors recognize the progress they have made in their own bereavement process and to see if they are moving in the right direction.
Avia Turjeman, aged 26 years old is married and a father of one child. Avia’s brother Evyatar z’l was killed in combat during Operation Protective Edge. Upon returning from this therapeutic trip, Avia explained that it was only by attending this shared empowering journey that he could face talking about his fears, especially how to keep the memory of his brother alive.
The therapy takes place through the photography, the interactions between the participants, and the tours and attractions in a foreign city. During the trip, participants took part in daily sessions of therapeutic photography, and support circles. Avia said he felt an instant connection with the participants, especially during the support circles, because despite hardly knowing each other, “we just had to glance at the other and we immediately understand the depth of each other’s pain”.
As part of the therapeutic process, photos that were taken during the day were processed as a group in the evening. The sharing that takes place provides mutual understanding and helps build tools that will help the youths at home, with their families, and in remembering the loved ones they lost. Ziv Helman, Director of bereaved alumni, said one of the group participants wrote to thank him, upon returning back to Israel. In his letter, he said: “Since I have returned home I have not stopped crying. It is so difficult to return to normal and back to reality. How can I even try to explain to other people what I went through on this journey? It feels impossible to describe the special relationship that the group experienced. The atmosphere was so unique; it was liberating and at the same time it provided a contained space where we understood each other, something that is deeply lacking in everyday life. I just want to say Thank You to One Family for helping me on this journey, a journey which I needed so deeply, yet before I went I did not realize how much. It provided me the air to breathe. I miss everyone so much and hope we will stay in touch!
How we help
One Family understands the trauma of bereavement and injury from terror. Our family can provide the key elements that lead to successful rehabilitation. With this level of trauma, comes a feeling of isolation by singular experience. The perception of being alone affects every element of the recovery and rebuilding process. Our presence and resources ensure that victims and their families never need to feel alone.
One of the primary ways in which One Family assists victims of terror is through emotional support provided through healing retreats, support groups, and therapeutic workshops for bereaved parents, parents of injured children, bereaved or injured young adults, widows and widowers, orphans, bereaved siblings, and wounded or maimed victims of all ages.
Each healing retreat involves up to 200 people of similar experiences that later form into smaller, more localized support groups where victims continue to provide victim-to-victim support, learn from each other’s experiences, and give and receive comfort from each other. At One Family, we strive to overcome terror together.
Through intensive and long-term therapeutic workshops (one-time) and support groups (meet weekly or monthly), terror victims are empowered to deal with their psychological and physical injuries on a daily basis.
How you can help
For each victim of terror, the support offered by One Family is personalized to his or her needs. For some, One Family helps them locate work; for others, One Family offers a chance to participate in retreat where they can connect with other victims. Still others, after isolating themselves for many months or even years, may join One Family’s soccer team ,photography or cooking classes. Below are just a few of the programs sponsored by One Family UK
Bereaved Parents – £500 enables a bereaved mother or father to participate in a three-day retreat, where they have the opportunity to meet with other bereaved parents, and join in professionally-run activities to help them cope with their loss.
Therapeutic Youth-Camp Scholarship – £1,000 pays for a young victim of terror to take part in a therapeutic camp experience where they participate in expressive arts, sports, outdoor adventure and therapeutic group programming.
Adopt a Family – £7,500 per year provides essential financial and emotional support for a family to help them move forward in their lives after an attack.
Higher Education Fund – £10,000 will enable to university or college aged victim to complete a degree.
One Family holds periodic healing retreats for bereaved siblings, parents, widows and widowers, and wounded victims, allowing them to socialise with others in similar circumstances, make new friends, and escape the tension and sorrow that engulfs their lives. These retreats feature touring, therapeutic sessions, entertainment, and an opportunity to help the victims feel cared for both emotionally and spiritually. These retreats strengthen victims so that they can return to their homes and families with renewed energy to face their experiences, knowing that someone is there with them.