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For both Israelis Palestinians NGOs offer essential support during war

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For both Israelis Palestinians NGOs offer essential support during war



The Israel-Hamas war has resulted in displacement and disruption for people in both Israel and the Gaza Strip, and donations and NGOs are playing a crucial role in providing meals, clothing, shelter, and other necessary items during a chaotic time. 

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The Media Line reached out to two non-profit organizations, one in Israel and one in the Palestinian territories, to discuss how each is assisting its people.

The Ezrat Achim Medical Assistance Center, based in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem, provides medical equipment and assistance across the country. 

Rivky Tyberg, the organization’s director of donor relations, said that before the war, Ezrat Achim mainly assisted people in the Beit Shemesh area, which has no hospital. However, following Hamas’ murderous rampage in Israel on Oct. 7 and the subsequent outbreak of the war, more than 200,000 Israelis from the northern and southern border areas were displaced from their homes to other parts of Israel, necessitating a shift in the organization’s operational approach. 

“As soon as the war began, we kind of mobilized all the volunteers and the whole network that we had already set up,” she said. “We were able to be cooking and delivering 2,500 meals a day, which were for the families who were displaced by the war. We also opened a pop-up shop, which was free. They had really come with nothing, and especially as it started to turn wintry, even if they brought a bag with some clothing, they certainly didn’t have winter clothing and coats and things.” 

USAID pallets of food, water and supplies (credit: FLICKR)

Tyberg said that the large-scale displacement has become a pressing issue. Many families who came to Beit Shemesh are from areas that suffer frequent rocket bombardments from the Gaza Strip, but they are not from the border areas that were officially ordered to evacuate, and therefore they are not eligible for hotel stays funded by the government. However, many of those families are from poor socioeconomic backgrounds and cannot afford to pay for extended stays in hotels. Donors sent the organization funds to help pay for such families.

“Ultimately, we also were able to get a donation from someone in America that enabled us to pay for short-term rentals for some of the families,” Tyberg said. “We were calling all the real estate agents if there were any empty apartments and trying to find places for people to stay.”

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Meanwhile, veteran American non-profit organization Anera (American Near East Refugee Aid) provides humanitarian and development aid to refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordan, and Lebanon. 

Sandra Rasheed, the organization’s country director for Palestine, told The Media Line that while Anera’s operational approach has remained unchanged during the war, it has significantly intensified its efforts to aid civilians in Gaza. 

“We started almost 55 years ago. It started in 1967 after the [Six-Day] war that left so many Palestinians displaced,” Rasheed said. “It was created by Palestinian-Americans, Arab-Americans, people who are interested in social justice, who wanted to find a way to support the mass exodus of Palestinians out of Palestine. Prior to this war, we worked in education, focusing on early childhood development, shelter, food security, health, medical donations, and community infrastructure. All of that was put on hold.” 

It is estimated that some 1.9 million Gazans, over 85% of the population, have been displaced in the current war, and the World Health Organization has reported an increase in diseases attributed to overcrowded conditions in the refuge areas. 

“Since the response started, we have distributed more than 6 million meals to people who have been displaced. That includes food parcels, vegetable baskets, and hot meals,” Rasheed said. 

“We have facilitated 55 psychosocial sessions for children, so they have guided activities for play and stress relief. We have 55 shelters that we clean on a rotation basis. It’s not just our team that is working. We’ve been able to mobilize a network of over about 450 volunteers, partners, farmers, vendors, and other partner organizations to support us in the work that we’re doing.” 

The formidable challenges

Both women acknowledge encountering formidable challenges in delivering assistance.

Tyberg said that urgent calls from displaced Israelis seeking assistance are repeatedly forced to end abruptly because of rocket alerts.

“I would say that the hardest part for all the people here in the organization and all the volunteers was really that point where we had just gotten hundreds of phone calls coming in from families who were desperate. They would suddenly tell us there was a warning siren and hang up,” she said.

“We would wait by the phone fearing for their lives. Then they would call back, like, 20 minutes later and say, ‘OK, everything’s OK. So, listen, when could you come and get us out of here? We’re desperate. We need a place to go.’” 

In the Gaza Strip, one of the major challenges faced by many volunteers and workers is fear for their own lives.

“We try to provide the coordinates so that people, so Israel, knows that these are shelters for staff of an American organization working for the displaced,” Rasheed said. “But our team have said time and time again that if we’re going to die, we’re going to die serving our people. We’re going to die serving the people that need support.” 

Rasheed said that fuel is crucial to the organization’s ability to deliver food to Gazans. 

“Our work is reliant on being able to deliver the food to people in shelters,” she said. “Having our team go to these shelters and provide the interventions and fuel is more precious than gold right now, and it’s one of the hardest things to attain. And without fuel, we can’t operate.”

Tyberg said the war is exacting a heavy psychological and emotional toll on the Israeli population.

“There are just so many people who know people who’ve been affected terribly. And it’s just this very heavy feeling that we all have that it’s just inescapable, just hanging over everyone,” she said. 

Rasheed called for a permanent cease-fire to end the conflict. 

“I think what we’re asking for is people to advocate for a permanent cease-fire. The situation is very critical. We need a permanent cease-fire. We need a solution,” she said.

Lana Ikelan is a recent graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an intern in The Media Line’s Press and Policy Student Program.





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Iranian FM: Israeli weapons are ‘toys for our children to play with’

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Iranian FM: Israeli weapons are ‘toys for our children to play with’



Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian joked a day after Israel’s strikes in Iran that the weapons used were “more like toys that our children play with – not drones,” according to a Saturday article from Iran’s semi-official Mehr News Agency. 

Making the comments in an interview with NBC News, Abdollahian said “As long as there is no new adventurism by Israel against our interests, then we are not going to have any new reactions.”

Threats against Israel

“If Israel takes a decisive action against my country and this is proven to us,” he said, “our response will be immediate and to the maximum and will cause them to regret it.”

The foreign minister went on to threaten that his comments were only a warning, and that “We could have hit Haifa and Tel Aviv… We could have also targeted all the economic ports of Israel.” 

The IDF displays an Iranian ballistic missile which they retrieved from the Dead Sea after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, at Julis military base, in southern Israel April 16, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Abdollahian said that the only reason that Iran had not successfully hit Haifa, Tel Aviv or any major port was because Iran’s “red lines [were] civilians…We only had a military purpose.”

A 7-year-old Arab girl was killed during Iran’s mass drone attack which saw hundreds of UAVs and multiple ballistic missiles fired seemingly randomly at Israel. While few Iranian aerial assault weapons successfully hit Israel, one hit a northern Arab village and one hit Arad- which is where the 7-year-old girl was killed. 





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White House urges Congress to quickly send foreign aid bill to Biden’s desk

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White House urges Congress to quickly send foreign aid bill to Biden’s desk



Passing the national security supplemental bills would send a powerful message about the strength of American leadership at a pivotal moment, the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement released Friday morning as the House continues debates on rules for proceeding with the bills. 

The supplemental funding package provides long overdue funding to support Ukraine as it continues defending itself against Russia’s brutal war of aggression. Ukraine must prevail, the White House said. 

This supplemental funding also helps Israel protect its people against Hamas and Iran and its other proxies, including Hezbollah.

The White House’s statement

“It is critical that we quickly help Israel replenish its air defenses following Iran’s recent brazen and unprecedented attack and ensure Israel maintains its military edge against Iran or any other adversary,” according to the statement. 

A MURAL in Tel Aviv depicts US President Joe Biden as a superhero defending Israel against the Iranian attack. On the strategic level, Israel suffered a whopping loss as Iran pierced American and Israeli deterrence frameworks with apparent impunity, the writer maintains. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

The funding would also provide urgent life-saving humanitarian assistance for Palestinian civilians in Gaza and vulnerable people suffering around the world, the statement said, as well as critical support to Indo-Pacific partners. 

“The world is watching what the Congress does,” the White House said. “The Administration urges both chambers of the Congress to quickly send this supplemental funding package to the President’s desk.”





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American money ear-marked for PA security used to pay families of terrorists from Jenin – report

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American money ear-marked for PA security used to pay families of terrorists from Jenin – report



The Palestinian Authority’s General Security Service (GIS) has apparently admitted to using American money earmarked for security to pay the family of terrorists from Jenin, according to a Palestinian Media Watch report.

According to the report, on April 4, 2024, PA news agency WAFA published that the GIS in Jenin had given a grant to “the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners from the service’s ranks in the district.”

The GIS gave grants to around 36 families from among the “martyrs and prisoners.”

The vast majority of those identified as “martyrs” or “prisoners” were members of the GIS who had committed acts of terror, according to the PMW.

The grant was given at the direction of PA General Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj, who emphasized a core principle of Mahmoud Abbas: “If we are left with one penny, it will be paid to the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners.”

Taylor Force, 29, was killed by a Palestinian terrorist who went on a stabbing rampage in Jaffa on March 8, 2016 (credit: FACEBOOK)

Taylor Force Act

The US had all but ceased providing funds for the PA after the implementation of the 2017 Taylor Force Act, which blocked all funding for the PA general budget.

The act was named for Taylor Force, an American citizen killed in a terror attack in 2016, where the attacker’s family received money from the PA’s pay-for-slay program.

The exception to this was the funding of the PA’s security sector, which received around $45 million in 2022, according to the State Department’s website.

The PMW says that this money was then used to not only provide funds for terrorists and their families but also to train PA security forces, many of whom end up involved in terrorism, according to PA statements in 2023.

The PMW charge that US funds are now being used to directly fund and train terrorists in the West Bank.





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