For Immediate Release
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews
February 11, 2008
Sderot Inaugurates Renovated Bomb Shelters, Funded by Christians –
Rabbi Eckstein Announces Plans to Upgrade 400 Shelters in Ashkelon
As Qassam rocket barrages from Gaza continue to strike the embattled town of Sderot in southern Israel, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and the Sderot Municipality held a special ceremony on Thursday, February 7, 2008 to inaugurate 32 public bomb shelters, renovated with the help of IFCJ and its Christian supporters.
Funded at a cost of $1.5 million, the upgraded shelters were declared operational several weeks ago, providing Sderot’s 20,000 residents desperately-needed protection from daily missile strikes launched by Hamas and other terrorist elements in Gaza.
The event marking the shelters’ completion was attended by Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, IFCJ Founder & President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, as well as municipal officials and large numbers of residents who will benefit from the shelters’ recent rehabilitation.
During the inauguration, Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai declared, “We’re here thanks to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. They come and help people. Our enemies are trying to get rid of us. It is a fight that tests the willpower of our people. The government can’t do all of the work. The IFCJ has once again shown what extraordinary work it does in providing answers to those needs by renovating the Sderot shelters.”
The 4-month-long process of refitting the Sderot shelters included upgrading electrical and lighting systems, plumbing and sewage, repairing reinforced doors and installing air conditioners. The shelters will serve a dual purpose: 1) To provide residents with safe protection during missile attacks and 2) To serve a variety of communal functions, such as a youth club, a library for new immigrants, a synagogue and a physical education center.
On the same day, Rabbi Eckstein and Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai toured the City of Ashkelon, a community of 120,000 people located north of Gaza along Israel’s Mediterranean coast, where a few days earlier long-range missiles from Gaza struck the town’s southern neighborhoods, causing injuries and extensive damage.
As a result of the security situation and the increasing number of rocket attacks on Ashkelon, Rabbi Eckstein announced, during talks with Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mahatzri and Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai, plans by IFCJ to rehabilitate 400 private shelters in the city at an estimated cost of $2 million.
“Regretfully, the range of the Qassam rockets continues to increase and the City of Ashkelon also finds itself under constant threat. Today, after we saw the real need that exists in the area, we immediately decided to extend aid to the distressed neighborhoods in the town and to position them in high security preparedness for the next wave of attacks,” said Rabbi Eckstein.
The planned project in Ashkelon, expected to be completed later this year, will upgrade hundreds of communal shelters located in residential buildings in the neighborhoods of Shimshon, Givat Zion and Ramat Eshkol, where approximately one-third of the community’s population lives.
Founded in 1983, IFCJ has a dual mission to foster better understanding and cooperation between Christian and Jews and to build broad support for Israel and the Jewish people around the world. IFCJ works to help Jews immigrate to Israel from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, Arab & Muslim lands, India and other troubled countries; fight poverty and aid victims of war and terrorism in Israel; and extend aid to poor elderly Jews and orphans in the former Soviet Union. For general information about IFCJ, please visit: www.ifcj.org.
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