Eshel-The Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel has provided 1,500 elderly residents of the North with a five-day respite from the constant bombardment of Katyusha rockets.
On Friday, the association, which is run in cooperation with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, arranged transport for the residents from communities on the front line to 15 hotels in Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and the Central region.
"There are Jews, Druse and Israeli Arabs from all over the northern region who have been given a break from the stress," Prof. Yitzhak Brick, Eshel's director-general, told The Jerusalem Post Sunday.
"We are talking about those who have been sitting in bomb shelters in the North for the past four weeks. Most of the healthy people and those with economic means have left the area; they are the only ones left," he said.
During the five days, participants will be offered a variety of medical services, including counseling from Eshel's professional staff, and various activities and entertainment.
"It does a lot for them," said Brick. "It is five days in a hotel where they can relax with no rockets, no pressure and no worries about where their food will come from. It will be difficult for them to go back after five days but what else can be done?"
This is the fifth such "vacation" offered to elderly northern residents. Brick said that following the success of similar respite-holidays over the past three weeks, the Tourism and Pensioners ministries provided NIS 1 million, which was matched by NIS 1.4m. from the Joint Distribution Committee.
"This is a very important donation," said Brick, adding that Eshel had also handed out hundreds of emergency packs including flashlights, radios and food parcels to elderly residents.
He said when this group returns to the North on Wednesday, the association planned to bring another group of 1,500 for a "break."
"We will continue on with this project for as long as we are needed," said Brick.