Thanks to the strong support of United with Israel’s world community, two bomb shelters were installed in Israeli towns on the outskirts of Ashkelon. Brachia and Hodaya are neighboring moshavim (villages) just a few kilometers from the heart of Ashkelon, a coastal city that has been hit with numerous rocket attacks from Gaza in recent days.
For both of these towns, this was the first above-ground shelter that has been delivered since rockets attacks began over 10 years ago. Needless to say, the residents were extremely happy and appreciative for this most welcome delivery.
In the town of Brachia, a middle-aged woman named Orly runs the infirmary which caters to an elderly population. In the event of attack, she says that “all of the patients must be evacuated to different towns that are better protected. This is a great inconvenience and causes tremendous stress and hardship for our elderly patients.” Now, with a shelter located less than 15 feet from the entrance of the infirmary, all they have to do is walk out the front door. In Brachia, we were told, “residents have 45 seconds to run for shelter after hearing the siren”.
Moshav Hodaya is the town adjacent to Brachia. There, the bomb shelter was placed right next to a youth center, and just a short distance from the infirmary. The mayor of the town, a young man named Giora Nachshon, was thrilled to finally have one delivered to his community. “Thank you very much, we are so grateful for this”, said Giora, whose facial expressions spoke louder than his words. “Unfortunately, this is what we need today – and we are glad to have it”.
Also on hand was an incredible war hero named Maozia Segal, who lost both of his legs, one arm and one eye when he took a hit in a war with Syria almost 40 years ago. He is the director of Social Services in the Hof Ashkelon Region and drives 70 kilometers each way from his home in Tel Aviv. Moazia helps families deal with social and emotional difficulties, many of which stem from the stress of living under the constant threat of attack. He honored this dedication with his presence and also expressed his appreciation.
Michael Gerbitz, founder of United with Israel, explained that “the real thanks belongs to people all around the world who reached into their pockets to support Israel in a very tangible way.” Addressing the over one million United with Israel base of supporters, he said that “it’s people like you who help protect the people of Israel that deserve all of the credit”.
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The United with Israel Bomb Shelter Campaign “delivery cycle” was very quick. The campaign was initiated right after hundreds of rockets recently hit the region. In less than 3 weeks, funds were raised and shelters were purchased, delivered and installed. “This is the power of the incredible support base that Israel has around the world”, Gerbitz says, “who can be relied upon in a very tangible way when the needed arises”.
A very special thanks goes to Shmuel Bowman of Operation Lifeshield, whose organization provided the actual shelter. The logistics were arranged by Yossi Dahari, the Director of Community Centers in Hof Ashkelon, who deserves much thanks as well.
All in all it was an incredible day. “It is very sad and unfortunate that these shelters are needed”, said Gerbitz, “but it’s comforting to know that there are millions of people across the globe, who really care about us here in Israel.”
Many more bomb shelters are needed in the Ashkelon area – This campaign is ongoing!
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