Israel News for May 5, 2016

Gaza Strikes
In response to six mortar shells that were fired at Israeli soldiers from Gaza yesterday, the Israeli Air Force launched several airstrikes against Hamas targets in the Strip. An IDF statement said, “The IDF sees terrorist activities conducted above or below the ground as a violation of Israel’s sovereignty, and sees the Hamas terrorist organization as solely responsible for this terrorist activity.”

Both Hamas and IDF sources confirmed that Egyptian officials were mediating a cease fire to restore calm in the area.

The IDF revealed today that it had uncovered another Hamas tunnel that reached as deep as 30 meters below ground.

For further reading click here.

Holocaust Commemoration
Today Israel is observing Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah). The official commemorations began with a siren throughout the country that marked two minutes of silence during which all pedestrian and vehicular traffic came to halt and people stood silently, in place.

Following the two minutes of silence, a wreath-laying ceremony commenced at Warsaw Ghetto Square at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Police Commisioner Roni Alsheikh and delegations from Israel and abroad were all in attendance.

During the ceremony, six Holocaust survivors told their stories in a prerecorded video before they lit the six torches representing the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Commemoration events will be held throughout the day. Television and radio programming is also dedicated to remembering the Holocaust, particularly through the broadcasting of testimonies of survivors.

In Poland, over 10,000 Jewish students will take part in the March of the Living, from Aushwitz to the gas chambers in Birkenau, where they will hold a commemoration ceremony.

This year, the march will be led by Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, former Chief Rabbi of Israel and current Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Yisrael Meir Lau, and a delegation of five Knesset members and international law experts who participated in a conference organized by the March of Living Foundation on Wednesday to mark 80 years to the establishment of the Nuremberg Laws and 70 years to the Nuremberg Trials.

For further reading click here.

To watch videos of the six survivor testimonies, click here.

Survivor Stories
As part of Holocaust Remembrance Day I’d like to share the story of my own family.

My father’s family lived in a small town called Mosciska in Eastern Poland, which is today part of the Ukraine. The town had around 2,500 hundred Jews, about half of the entire population, included scores of our relatives.

Not long after the Nazis occupied Mosciska in the summer of 1941, they launched an aktzia to roundup the Jews, most of whom were deported or murdered. My father, who was then 8 yrs old, hid in the fields along with his older sister and mother. My grandfather hid in the forest, but was captured by a farmer and taken to the train station. Luckily, the train had already left and he ended up being released. The family moved into the ghetto along with all of the remaining Jews.

At that point my grandparents decided to send my father away to hide with a Christian woman in a city in central Poland. There he posed as her nephew for over two years. Meanwhile, my grandmother’s uncle and his son had gone into hiding (after his wife and other children were murdered) with a Polish farmer in the area. He arranged for another farmer, who had been employed by our family, to hide them.

To make a very long story very short, for the next two years my grandmother and grandfather, along with their daughter (my aunt), and my grandfather’s two single brothers, hid in a barn behind a secret wall they constructed. Unlike most Jews who attempted to hide in Poland and the Ukraine, they survived.

After liberation they picked up my father and went on to build a new life in America. Other than one of my grandmother’s sisters who survived in a labor camp with her husband, where she gave birth to her first child, and my grandmother’s uncle and his son, the rest of our very large family perished in the Holocaust.

My mother was just 2 yrs old when the Nazis attacked Warsaw in 1939. My grandparents decided to flee the city. They ended up in Uzbekistan with thousands of other Jewish refugees. My grandfather joined the Polish People’s Army (communist). He fought on the front lines to help drive the Nazis out of Poland. After the war they returned to Poland where they lived for over 10 years until immigrating to Canada. Other than one of my grandfather’s six brothers and one of my grandmothers sisters, their entire families perished in the Holocaust.

May the memories of the millions of martyrs be blessed and remain with us forever.