As the rocket attacks from Gaza continue, Holocaust victims are particularly vulnerable, physically and emotionally. With southern cities having faced attacks for years, the Claims Conference has worked closely with the Israeli government and non-governmental organizations to protect, care for and comfort Holocaust victims and ensure that their needs were and are met.
Even as the attacks continue, the Claims Conference is preparing for the future. We are also gratified that projects initiated years ago continue to keep Nazi victims safe.
Holocaust victims living in apartment buildings of Amigour, the agency that constructs and maintains senior housing units, in Ashdod and Ashkelon are able to take shelter in fortified rooms funded by the Claims Conference.
To pass the hours in this current crisis, some shelters have been turned into computer centers, entertainment is provided, and Amigour staff stayed with the elderly residents.
We have approved emergency funding to build a number of protected, secure rooms at the one Amigour assisted living facility in the south, in Be’er Sheva, that currently lacks them.
We have also approved funding to purchase 4 mobile safe rooms, for smaller Amigour buildings, in the Negev communities of Ofakim, Netivot and Kiryat Gat, which will allow the elderly quicker access to protection.
Further, for several years the Claims Conference has funded special programs for Amcha, the Israeli psychological care organization for survivors, in the areas surrounding Gaza, which has absorbed constant rocket attacks for years. The Claims Conference has also assisted in building five senior day centers in the region – in Sderot, Eshkol, Sdot Negev, Shaar Hanegev and Hof Ashkelon – all of which include safe rooms.
In the areas surrounding Gaza, all Nazi victims who chose to participate in the Supportive Community program are fully subsidized by the Claims Conference, meaning that any participation fee is waived for them. Supportive Communities provide a network of services to elderly Israelis, enabling them to live independently but still receive the aid they need.
In addition, over the past several years, we have been partners with the Israeli government in establishing critical facilities at major hospitals in the country, two of which have often been in the news these past weeks – in building underground shelters for the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, as well as helping to construct departments at the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva which, in normal times, serve the elderly, especially Nazi victims, but are currently serving injured civilians and soldiers.
The Claims Conference will be there as long as needed for Holocaust victims once again under attack because they are Jews. While they are targeted, they will never again be alone.