More than 3,000 reservists and medics have been airlifted to Israel from New York by a secret civilian network that sprang into action just two hours after war was declared.
Two students, shocked by the terror attack on Israel on October 7, set up the network which quickly grew to more than 450 volunteers working 24 hours a day.
They appealed for donations from the Jewish community and received around £2 million, with one female donor chartering an entire plane for the effort.
The start-up, which is being run from an office in downtown Manhattan, initially focused on getting reservists from across the world back to Israel as well as medics and supplies. They also helped the families of victims return home.
Now they are concentrating on equipment and supplies for the IDF and for tens of thousands of Israelis who are refugees in their own country after being evacuated from their towns and villages.
The team utilised private jets, charter flights and scheduled flights to get the men and women to Israel as quickly as possible. They also arranged transport to the airports and overnight accommodation at family homes for those who needed it.
The volunteers working together shoulder to shoulder included lawyers, bankers, tech workers and students.
A spokesperson said: “It is the Israeli spirit, there is no boss, no political party to make this happen. There are donors and many good people giving their time, both day and night. There is a lot of positive energy and willingness and we will keep helping Israel in any way we can.”
One volunteer said: “The atmosphere is somewhere between an Army base and a start-up.
“It feels good to be doing something to help but it was tense work. Israel is small and everyone knows someone affected. People kept going to the side to take calls to say a friend or family member had been killed or kidnapped. They took ten minutes and came back. We had a psychologist working with the volunteers to help them.”
To donate to the organisation email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Operation Return Home Donation Receipt”.