Los Angeles, August 14 – Thousands of Israeli children spent most of this summer in shelters hiding from missiles launched at them from Gaza. Far from the conflict, Israeli-Americans decided to band together to give families who live near the Gaza Strip one last taste of summer before it ends. Launched this week by theIsraeli-American Council (IAC), the umbrella organization for Israelis living in the U.S., the “Bring Back the Summer” campaign will send dozens of families in cities and towns under fire on a free weekend to the Red Sea resort of Eilat, August 28-31, to provide them some rest and relaxation after weeks of missile attacks and war.
Some 3.5 million Israelis in the country’s south have only 60 seconds to find shelter during a rocket attack from Gaza, and more than 40,000 who live near the Gaza border have only 15 seconds to seek shelter. While many families were temporarily relocated during the war to hotels in northern Israel to avoid civilian casualties and reduce the psychological impact of the war, others remained behind. IAC is working directly with local heads of cities near Gaza, such as Eshkol Regional Council, to send local families who did not get to leave during the war on this special vacation weekend. Participating families will include security coordinators from the towns and communities.
In addition to a social media campaign to raise funds for this effort, IAC is coordinating fundraising events across the U.S., including in Miami on August 16, Los Angeles on August 19, New York on August 20, Boston on August 21, and in Las Vegas on August 24. During these events, IAC will play a video from Israel, which includes a message from the head of the Eshkol Regional Council near Gaza, Chaim Yellin, and local families. Israeli-American supporters of the campaign will be able to write their own messages and letters to the Israeli families, adding a personal touch to this grassroots effort. The more money IAC raises the more families it will be able to send on vacation.
“There’s been such an incredible outpouring of well-deserved support for IDF soldiers involved in Operation Protective Edge, but ordinary children in southern Israel have been on the front lines of this war as well,” said IAC CEO Sagi Balasha. “After a harrowing summer under rocket fire, these children were hardly able to enjoy what is one of the most fun and joyful seasons of the year. IAC feels it’s important to bring back the summer to these children and their families and enable them to enjoy some summer fun away from the Gaza border before the season ends.”
For more information about the campaign, please visit www.israeliamerican.org/bringbackthesummer.