Israelis Spring into Action to Help Fellow Citizens Evacuated after Hamas Massacre

DEAD SEA, Israel – Many Israelis say even though October 7 is the worst event in Jewish history since the Holocaust, there’s also a sense the tragedy is bringing out the best in the Israeli people.  

When Hamas attacked communities along the Gaza border October 7, people escaped with almost no belongings.  It didn’t take long for Israelis from around the country to jump in and help.  

“The people of Israel now, in its best and everybody takes part of the effort to take care for us,” Dr. Alon Pauker, an evacuee from Kibbutz Be’eri, told CBN News. “It takes a lot of time for the government to act but earlier the people’s acting.”

Nearly a thousand residents of Be’eri community are staying at the David Hotel on the Dead Sea. This includes children who need activities and school. 

Inbal Bakhar normally oversees pre-school children up to age three in the Eshkol region.  That includes her own kibbutz Be’eri, one of the hardest hit communities.

“When we came here to (the) Dead Sea in the beginning, I felt that I have enough energy, you know, to build all the kindergartens and all this, but very, very quick. I understood it. I’m not there. I’m not good for this project,” Bakhar told CBN News. 

Then Israelis and organizations like ‘Dror Israel’ and IsraAid joined in the effort. 

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“They built us the kindergartens from birth to six years old,” Bakhar explained. “And it took me something like two and a half weeks to recover and to be able to wake up in the morning to do something, to want to awake in the morning.” 

Kindergarten teacher Ela Yalon left her home in central Israel to help. 

“We felt that with all the horrible things that happened to us here in Israel, I think most of the people in Israel wanted to do something. Also, they wanted to help. And also, they wanted to do because it’s very hard to deal with what happened,” Yalon told CBN News.

“It’s very painful and very confusing. And when we saw this invitation, we understood as education people that this is the place we need to be right now,” she said. 

One priority is getting children back into a regular routine. 

“In this hotel, that sometimes can be chaotic, we try to build the schedule that they know. They come here in the morning. They go in the noontime. And in the meanwhile, every day we do a circle that we sing and move a little bit, read stories,” Yalon explained.

They’ve also started a garden with flowers and a variety of plants.

“We planted seeds. We planted the plants. It’s something that also you touch the soil and it’s very good and very therapeutic. And also, it gives them something, it’s activities that bring them hope and (keep) them thinking positively about the future that something will grow,” Yalon said.

Since 2001, IsraAid has responded to more than 100 disasters worldwide and this is first time they are working in their home country.  

“We are now working in over a dozen locations across Israel with displaced communities from the Gaza border region,” IsraAid spokesperson Shachar May explained.

May says it became clear the first day they would need to launch an operation.  

“Here in this hotel where the community of Be’eri is housed, we run a child and parent space where children can engage in play under the supervision of trained mental health professionals, and parents as well while they have a moment of rest and watching their children at play can also receive guidance from trained professionals on how to help their children through this trauma, how to help themselves through this trauma,” May told CBN News.

“We also run a second children’s space for slightly older children that also includes art therapy,” May said. “And we also handle the logistical support for the donation store. Many people left their homes with absolutely nothing, just the clothes on their back.”

May says even though the Be’eri residents have suffered huge trauma and loss, they are pulling together. 

“Everything we do is in full partnership with the kibbutz itself,” she said.

“The trauma this community endured is indescribable. There’s no minimizing that trauma. But the community itself, watching them come together and the resilience that is here in that community and all of the communities that we work with is incredible,” May added. “The strength of this community is incredibly inspiring.”

Pauker says this sense also gives them the strength and will to rebuild even if it takes two or three years to come up with a solution. 

“When you come as a community, you can rebuild (as) a community,” Pauker said.

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