VFI Supports the City of Sderot with Emergency Equipment

Friday 12 April 2024

The Sderot City Development Fund sent VFI a request in December 2023 to help purchase emergency equipment and tactical clothing for their emergency teams. Without hesitation, we began contacting suppliers and were able to purchase the valuable equipment that was needed.

Due to the war, high demand, and delays in imports and delivery, we had to wait several months until we were able to receive all the equipment we purchased. The equipment we donated to the forces in the city included:

  • 50 headlamps
  • 50 scanning lights
  • 50 sets of tactical pants & shirts
  • 50 tactical gloves
  • 50 pairs of tactical shoes
  • 50 softshell jackets
  • 25 tactical helmets
  • 8 medic bags

Once all the equipment came in and was organised, we set up a delivery date. Barry, Batya, and Liat traveled to Sderot city hall and were welcomed by the Director of Resource Mobilization. Some members of the security forces helped them unload all of the equipment.

There was a special ceremony for VFI to present the equipment to the city. We showed them one set of equipment: a headlamp, a scanning light, tactical pants and shirt, tactical gloves, a pair of shoes, a softshell jacket, a helmet, and a medic bag. Many attended the event that day: officials from the Sderot municipality, including the mayor, the director of resource mobilisation, the emergency officer and supervisor, and representatives from the emergency squad and police.

The mayor, Mr. Alon Davidi, made the initial opening remarks. He talked about the surprise attack on Israel on 7th October. He praised the emergency teams that were called in and the municipal police that immediately responded. They had to leave their families, wives, and children, yet with one goal in mind — to protect and save the lives of the citizens and residents. Alon strengthened them by validating the importance of uprooting the enemy and restoring the residents' sense of security and peace.

Alon communicated his appreciation, recognition, and thanks to Vision for Israel for our continual support throughout the years, and especially now during the war. The mayor also expressed his care for the well-being and safety of the residents of Sderot, and that he would go to great lengths to restore peace to the area.

Afterward, we heard a personal testimony of 7th October from Ronen, the emergency squad coordinator.

At 6:30 am, on Simchat Torah, Hamas launched a heavy barrage of hundreds of rockets within 10 minutes at the Israeli settlements near Gaza and the city of Sderot.” Ronen received a message that a rocket had hit, and because of his role as emergency squad coordinator, he had to leave everything immediately, pick up the mayor, drop him off at the war room, and then go to the point where the rocket hit.

Instead of picking up the mayor first, Ronen decided to go towards the point where the rocket was detected because the rocket alarms were going off every few seconds. After a few moments, the mayor called Ronen and demanded that he turn around to pick him up. Unknowingly, the mayor saved Ronen's life by bringing him back. Apparently, there were terrorists just a few metres away from where Ronen was. By turning around, he missed running into the terrorists in just a few seconds.

After Ronen dropped off the mayor in the war room, he immediately returned to the field, gathered the entire emergency squad, and then quickly found himself leading a battle against the terrorists. Ronen was wounded in the shoulder by 2 Kalashnikov bullets and shrapnel in his leg. He explained, “I had crazy adrenaline, and despite the pain, I continued to fight with all my might to defend the homes and residents. All I could do was to save as many lives as I could. It took the army about two hours to arrive so I felt it was my personal duty to fight.”

Security officer David added that Ronen even saved the life of a police officer — Ronen was pulling a police officer to safety and treating him while he was injured. It took a while before Ronen was evacuated to the hospital because of the many terrorists, and the many wounded and murdered citizens who needed to be treated. After several hours, Ronen finally received treatment. Thankfully, he is fully functioning today and back in his position to protect the people of Sderot.

We heard another testimony from Tal, the Director of Sderot’s Municipal Police Department who manages 14 municipal police inspectors, shared a short testimony.

“At 7:00 a.m. while running towards the fall (of a rocket), I received a message that terrorists had infiltrated the police station in the city. We left everything and ran towards the station to help the police.” Tal quickly found himself leading a team to go up against terrorists, while a barrage of rocket fire was flying over their heads. Tal honoured the heroic police team that fought face-to-face with the terrorists, while dealing with many different types of ammunition from Hamas terrorists: RPGs, Kalashnikovs, grenades, and more. Tal explained that they were all completely surprised and not ready for a battle of such magnitude.

Dor’el, the director of fundraising at the Sderot City Development Fund shared about the long-standing partnership with VFI. He praised Barry and Batya for running an organisation that has embraced the city of Sderot for over two decades on various levels: welfare, security, emergency, culture, and more.

Dor’el asked the squad members and fighters if they had received emotional or psychological treatment. Many responded that they had received some treatments from time to time. During the whole ceremony, we saw the unbearable pain, worry, and sadness of these men. It wasn’t an easy sight and it saddened us. The ceremony ended with the distribution of the equipment. It was a very meaningful meeting, and we were happy to cooperate with the welfare department of the city of Sderot, which worked in an orderly and efficient manner.

After the ceremony, we met with the director of the social services department, his deputy, and Dor’el, to discuss the city’s additional needs as the residents return to their homes. They told us about the damages in their city: 1200 property tax claims, 70 houses completely destroyed, 25 orphans, several widows, many people who lost their businesses or workplaces, and many other unexpected losses and expenses.

We talked about possibly establishing a flexible fund in cooperation between the city and Vision for Israel. We were also told that almost 100% of the people in the city have PTSD. There is not a single resident of the city who has not experienced the trauma and harm in one way or another throughout the years, especially during this current war.

At the end of the meeting, Dor’el took us on a tour of the police station that was destroyed. He explained what happened there, while neighbours and passersby also told us about their experiences. One resident told us that he witnessed a Hamas sniper climb onto the roof of a residential building and fire at civilians, policemen, and security forces, murdering and causing serious injuries to many. Then he saw a bystander take notice of the Hamas sniper from a distance, climb onto the roof of a different building, and with one shot kill the Hamas sniper, saving many lives.

Another resident shared that she saw a Hamas sniper go to the roof of her building. She explained that she and her neighbours trembled with fear when the terrorists knocked on the doors of their houses, and then went up to the rooftops to kill many Israelis.

It was deeply touching to meet some of the people from Sderot who lived through the horrors of 7th October. We were amazed to see them returning to their homes again. 85% of the residents have returned to the city, however, our initial feeling was that it felt like a ghost town. The city is now full of painful and horrific memories. The residents have lost their smiles and joy, and many walk with sadness, fear, and anxiety.

VFI has stood with the people of Sderot for many years, and we will continue to faithfully support them as they work through trauma, PTSD, and the restoration of their city.

We invite you to continue to pray for the people in Sderot and the entire nation of Israel during this difficult time of war. And join us by financially supporting the people of Israel to help meet their needs as the war continues. Visit our donate page to make your contribution today.

Are you willing to bless Israel, make a difference in the lives of people, and partner with God's plan for restoration of the land of Israel?

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