stolen coats 88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
After a heated summer, it seemed Gush Katif residents now living in Jerusalem hotels finally had something to warm their hearts and bodies during the oncoming winter.
Their optimism, however, was short-lived, as some 1,500 children's winter coats, along with hundreds of double-lined fleece jackets for adults, earmarked for distribution among the Gaza evacuees, were stolen from a Jerusalem warehouse late Monday night.
Pending a permanent housing arrangement, much of the former Gush Katif resident's belongings, including clothing, are still in storage containers.
After volunteers spent Monday night sorting the coats according to size and type, the warehouse, donated by Orot Hesed (Lights of Charity), was found almost completely empty Tuesday morning, mere hours before the coats were to be distributed.
The burglars apparently lit a fire near the warehouse's aluminum doors, melting them enough to push them in to make room for their entry.
Overall, some two-thirds of the coats in the warehouse were stolen, although a second shipment of coats was expected to arrive in the coming days.
Orot Hesed head Effie Rifkin told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that police had taken forensic evidence from the scene, and that a complaint was to be filed with the police later in the day.
"I am turning to the thieves to show consideration, to return the coats, and not to punish Gush Katif evacuees twice," said Rifkin.
An anonymous donor from Jerusalem, who was described by an associate as a "concerned citizen", had ordered the winter coats from China. The donor could only be identified as "Laya," and was described to the Post as a new Olah.
The project of bringing the coats to Israel and distributing them was done entirely on a volunteer basis, and residents of Jerusalem as well as a number of Gush Katif evacuees residing in hotels participated in the endeavor.