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The Unlikely Organization Helping Israel’s Children During War

Bartender and survivor of the Nova Festival, May Hayat, takes cover as rocket sirens sound, during her first visit to the scene of the attack, on the one-month anniversary of the attack by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Oct. 7, near Re’im, Israel, Nov. 6, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Masa Israeli is not used to working in times of war. During peacetime, the organization brings Israeli students, soldiers, and professional groups around the country for trips to help deepen their Jewish and Israeli identities. However, since the outbreak of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, Masa Israeli has shifted its focus in the short term to assisting the young boys and girls currently displaced across the country.

Dror Hamawy, the group’s director of education, told The Algemeiner that the “dramatic situation” in the country pushed the educational nonprofit to act. Normally, Masa Israeli’s trips are six days, and the group will take children on masaot (“journeys” in Hebrew) to showcase the deep Jewish connection to Israel, allowing them to “understand they are a part of the Jewish people,” said Hamawy.

Now the trips are just for one day.

Since the outbreak of the war, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been displaced because their homes were either destroyed or constant targets of rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza and both Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israeli civilians have been placed in different parts of the country, such as Eilat, the Dead Sea, and the Jerusalem area, mainly in hotels — though some have been fortunate to relocate temporarily in homes of gracious hosts.

Sivan Dinar, who directs Masa Israeli’s summer camp programming, said that children “are stuck in small rooms 24/7,” explaining that these trips finally give them the opportunity to “get out and to speak.”

She said the kids and their parents have been enthusiastic about the programming, and that “it is exactly what they were looking for.”

The trips, fully funded by private donors, are organized in the surrounding area of where the kids are staying and are accompanied by Masa Israeli’s trip facilitators. They go into nature and allow the children to “clear their minds” and calm down from the ongoing war.

As of now, the Israeli government has said that evacuees will have their hotels paid for until the end of year, although it is likely to be extended if the war drags on.

Masa Israeli has already started planning longer trips for the kids, including a “winter camp” that will be five days long and allowing for over-nighting at their facilities.

Hamawy said the children who participated have been “very sweet” while dealing with the trauma of the war in their own ways. The trips leave in 15-20 person groups and are back for dinner time.

Part of the trip allows the children to “speak about what happens and to process it,” according to Dinar. Given that the children range from very young to near the end of high school, how they speak about Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre and the subsequent war takes different forms. All in all though, she said “nature calms them.”

Masa Israeli wants to continue its work as long as is needed to support the evacuees and the survivors of Hamas’ brutal attack. Their work, though tough, has been necessary and important, organizers argued.

“We are doing something unique for them,” said Hamawy.

Troy O. Fritzhand, who goes by Osher in Hebrew, is a Jerusalem-based journalist covering Israeli politics, culture, and technology. An immigrant from New York, Troy is an entrepreneur and Hebrew thinker who helps oversee the start-up ecosystem in Jerusalem with Made in JLM. You can learn more about him at He previously served as the Politics and Knesset reporter at The Jerusalem Post and has been published in Jewish News Syndicate (JNS).

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Protester Sets Self on Fire Outside Israeli Consulate in Atlanta

Illustrative. Anti-Israel protesters demonstrate outside AIPAC President Michael Tuchin’s vacation home in Los Angeles, Nov. 23, 2023. Photo: Screenshot

i24 NewsA protester was in critical condition on Friday after setting themself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. authorities said. A security guard who tried to intervene was also wounded.

A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said at a news conference. He added that investigators did not believe there was any connection to terrorism and none of the consular staff was ever in danger.

JUST IN: A pro-Palestine protester is in critical condition after they set themselves on fire in “political protest” outside of the Israeli Consulate office in Atlanta.

The protester was reportedly draped in a Palestine flag.

The protester has severe burns and unfortunately, a…

— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) December 1, 2023

“We do not see any threat here,” he said. “We believe it was an act of extreme political protest that occurred.” Everyone inside the consulate building was said to be safe.

Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the southeastern U.S., said: “We are saddened to learn of the self-immolation at the entrance to the office building. It is tragic to see the hate and incitement toward Israel expressed in such a horrific way.”

“The sanctity of life is our highest value. Our prayers are with the security officer who was injured while trying to prevent this tragic act. We are grateful to the city of Atlanta’s law enforcement and first responders for all they do to ensure safety.”

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Released Israeli Hostages Call for Captives to Be Freed

Relatives and supporters of hostages kidnapped on the deadly October 7 attack by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, rally for their release, after a temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas ended when the terrorist group broke it, in Tel Aviv, Israel, December 2, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Israeli hostages released in the past week by Hamas in Gaza called on Saturday for the immediate release of fellow captives left behind, a day after a temporary truce that had allowed scores to come home broke down.

Tens of thousands gathered at a rally in Tel Aviv outside Israel‘s defense headquarters, where they cheered Yelena Trupanov, 50, standing on a stage just two days after being freed.

“I came to thank you because without you I wouldn’t be here. Now we must bring back my (son) Sasha, and everyone. Now.”

Similar pleas from other released hostages were shown on video.

A seven-day truce, during which Hamas had released more than 100 hostages, collapsed on Friday after Hamas breached the ceasefire.

Israel said on Saturday it had recalled a Mossad intelligence agency team from Qatar, host of indirect negotiations with Hamas, accusing the Palestinian faction of reneging on a deal that would have freed all children and women held hostage.

More than 240 people – Israelis and foreign nationals – were abducted to Gaza on Oct 7. by Hamas terrorists who burst through the border with Israel and killed 1,200 people.

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IDF Foils Stabbing Attack Near Nablus in West Bank, Eliminates Terrorist

Illustrative. Palestinian attacker near Nablus hurls stones towards Israeli troops during clashes at a riot in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, May 5, 2017. Photo: Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.

i24 NewsThe Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported thwarting a stabbing attack on Saturday afternoon against reserve Battalion 7037 at the X junction near Nablus in the West Bank.

According to the IDF spokesperson, the event unfolded when the forces at the roadblock became suspicious of an individual approaching the barricade.

During the questioning process, the suspect suddenly drew a knife and advanced towards the IDF personnel.

ניסיון פיגוע דקירה אירע לפני זמן קצר לעבר כוח צה”ל במילואים מגדוד 7037 שפעל בחסם בצומת האיקס סמוך לעיר שכם שבמרחב חטיבת שומרון.

הכוח חשד במחבל שהגיע לחסם והחל לתחקר אותו, המחבל שלף סכין והחל להתקדם לעבר הכוח.
הלוחמים חתרו למגע והגיבו בירי לעבר המחבל שחוסל. אין נפגעים לכוחותינו.

— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) December 2, 2023

The soldiers, faced with the threat, engaged in contact procedures and ultimately responded by opening fire on the assailant. The spokesperson confirmed that the attacker was neutralized due to the IDF’s action.

It was also noted that there were no casualties among the IDF forces involved in the incident. According to the spokesperson, the situation at the X junction has stabilized, and IDF continues to maintain vigilance in the area to prevent further attacks.

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