Eckstein tours IFCJ’s South security projects

With nearly $45 million deployed, president of fellowship to ask supporters for more

August 8, 2019 04:44
3 minute read.
IFCJ Global Vice President Yael Eckstein with a Holocaust survivor

IFCJ Global Vice President Yael Eckstein with a Holocaust survivor. (photo credit: IFCJ)

Throughout much of its existence, The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has worked to raise money to support vulnerable parts of Israel.

“No government in the world protects its people as well as the Israeli government, but still, they cannot do everything,” said Yael Eckstein, president of IFCJ. “So, we have taken it upon ourselves to appeal to Christian friends around the world to do what the government hasn’t or can’t do in the far-reaching areas of Israel.”

Over the last 15 years, the fellowship has supported 13 hospitals, fortified countless buildings in communities vulnerable to rocket attacks, provided emergency equipment throughout Israel, installed thousands of bomb shelters, provided immediate aid to victims of terrorism and has supported “command centers” in border communities to be used in the event of escalation of conflict between Israel and her neighbors.

In all, these projects account for over $44.6 million given primarily by Evangelical Christians to IFCJ to help better secure Jewish communities throughout Israel.

Earlier this month, Eckstein paid a visit to the Fortified Elderly Club in Sderot funded by IFCJ. She was joined by Rev. Johnnie Moore, an Evangelical friend of IFCJ and informal adviser to US President Donald Trump’s administration. The Fellowship House Elderly Club in Sderot is open daily for members of the community to socialize with one another over cards, crafts and coffee.

“This is a special place,” said Eckstein. “So much of what we do in these communities is to improve the lives of people, and there’s no greater satisfaction than looking in the eyes of elderly members of the Jewish community whose family is gone or far away and to see joy.”

They also visited Rivka Peres, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor who emigrated from Ukraine to Israel after first fleeing Russia when the Nazis entered the country. She now lives alone with no surviving family members, but is sustained by support from the fellowship’s programs for Holocaust survivors. Her bedroom doubles as a bomb shelter when rockets fly.

Eckstein and Moore also toured a command center partially funded by IFCJ in the area of the Eshkol Regional Council. The command center monitors communities that have been targeted in recent months by hundreds of rockets and incendiary balloons originating from Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. The fortified facility has been equipped with the latest technology to monitor security incidents in real time; and in the event of a war, it provides a secure operations center for the local authorities.

The command center is a short drive from one of several terrorist tunnels built underneath the barrier separating Eshkol Regional Council from the Gaza Strip. While the tunnel has been made inoperable by Israeli security forces, its entrance remains accessible on the Israel side for visiting international delegations to see for themselves the extraordinary efforts undertaken by Gazan extremists to infiltrate these farming communities.

Eckstein and Moore also visited the IDF base responsible for securing the region. They met with its commander, along with several soldiers. The next morning, Eckstein paid a visit to two IDF soldiers who were still hospitalized after they were victims of a ramming attack by a car near Ramallah a few days earlier. Eckstein brought gratitude and prayers from the supporters of IFCJ and a care package to bless the soldiers as they recover from their wounds.

Eckstein’s site visit came during escalating tensions in the region.

“I know it makes everyone uncomfortable, but during my visit to the southern tip of Israel, you couldn’t help but feel that another war between Hamas and Israel might be inevitable,” said Eckstein. “Because of the support of our donors to the fellowship, these communities are safer now than they were the last time, but they still aren’t safe enough. We must do more.”

This week, Eckstein begins a wide-ranging visit to donors and friends of IFCJ throughout the United States in Illinois, Florida, Virginia, New York and Tennessee.

“Hopefully, next month, I’ll bring back to Israel good news – that more help is on the way,” said Eckstein.

This article was written in cooperation with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

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