Hundreds of thousands raised to help victims

By Marcus Dysch, July 31, 2014
The pro-Israel solidarity gathering in Leeds last Sunday, which drew around 500 demonstrators

The pro-Israel solidarity gathering in Leeds last Sunday, which drew around 500 demonstrators

British Jews have been mobilising to help those in Israel affected by the ongoing violence.

Magen David Adom UK's emergency appeal, launched last month, has raised almost £300,000, a sum the charity said was unprecedented.

It hopes to buy a new ambulance to support Israel's emergency services taking part in Operation Protective Edge.

MDA chief executive Daniel Burger, currently in Israel on a solidarity mission, said he was overwhelmed by the response.

"Our donors know that we only ever say it's an emergency when we really mean it, so it has been inspiring to see the readiness of our donors to help meet the ever-growing costs."

It's been inspiring to see the readiness of donors

It is estimated that the cost of the conflict to MDA so far is £1.1 million.

More than £164,000 of donations was collected by UJIA for children in Israel affected by the conflict.

Volunteers took part in a telethon at the charity's head office in Camden, north London, on Sunday to raise money for its Children of the South appeal.

The money will ensure the delivery of hot meals and day camps across the south and north of Israel so that children can continue life as normal amid safety fears.

David Goldberg, UJIA's director of fundraising, said: "It's a fantastic testament both to the volunteers themselves who have given up their weekend, and to the incredible work that is being done by our partners in Israel, taking care of children who need help."

Two British olim have helped co-ordinate efforts to provide Israeli troops with home comforts as they continue their operation against Hamas in Gaza.

Robbie Littner and Sofie Segal, former members of Belmont Synagogue in north west London, began collecting small amounts from friends and colleagues in both Britain and Israel after the start of the IDF's ground campaign last month. They have so far raised more than £2,500.

Mr Littner, who moved to Israel four years ago, previously served in the army and the navy. He said he was "surprised how many people donated, and from all over the UK, and how much was raised in such a short period of time. It was quite overwhelming."

London-based Sharon Ben Hur has been co-ordinating efforts to find accommodation for Israelis from conflict-affected areas in the south.

She has appealed to British Jews who own holiday homes in the country to allow their properties to be used while rockets continue to hit towns and cities near Gaza.

After placing adverts on social media and community sites, she was able to help place an Israeli woman and her seven children in a home owned by an American from Los Angeles. Mrs Ben Hur said: "It's the summer holidays so a lot of places are full or booked out, but we have been able to help people who we have never met, mainly in Tel Aviv and Netanya."

In Leeds, around 500 pro-Israel supporters held a solidarity event on Sunday. It was the largest such event in the city for a number of years. Or Nehushtan, Leeds's Jewish community's shaliach, said: "Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel waved their Israeli flags alongside Union flags, held banners and said 'Yes to Peace, No to Terror!'."

More than 200 people attended a panel event organised by Masorti Judaism at New North London Synagogue on Sunday, which included a live link to Israeli and Palestinian speakers.

The Joseph Interfaith Foundation's National Council of Imams and Rabbis wrote to the Guardian to express concern at the violence. More than a dozen religious leaders signed the letter, which called for a ceasefire and better understanding between Muslim and Jewish communities in Britain.

Last updated: 4:33pm, July 31 2014