Unsung Heroes of the Gaza War: A (Very) Partial List

This list is my very inadequate way of saying thanks to those who are, even now, helping people for whom the war struck with devastating impact and profound tragedy.

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Palestinians stand on the rubble of the Al-Qassam mosque that was hit by an Israeli airstrike in the Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip. In this Saturday, August 9, 2014 photo.Credit: AP

"... I don't know a soul who's not been battered

I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
or driven to its knees "

                                    Paul Simon

I wonder if there is anyone I know here, who has not been heartsick from June on. The kind of heartsickness that compels you to do something about it, then stands in your way when you try.

The kind of heartsickness that makes it hard to move, hard to know where to turn, what to do, how to speak or act or react without making the terrible, worse.

This is my very inadequate way of saying thanks to those who are, even now, helping people for whom the war struck with devastating impact and profound tragedy.

This is my stumbling way of saying that the people who are helping, deserve the support of the rest of us.

Here are a few of them:

Emergency Food Aid for Gaza – When Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin recently learned that the Israel vegetable growers association had a surplus of thousands of tons of potatoes slated for destruction, he quickly organized an online campaign
to buy as many of the potatoes as possible and have them sent to Gaza for distribution to the needy.

In only a few days, more than a thousand donors had contributed over $90,000, and the growers helped by cutting their price by 20 percent.

ANERA – The American Near East Refugee Aid organization is scrupulous about directing its assistance to those in need, and not having it diverted for political, administrative or other purposes.

Last week alone, it sent more than a million liters of water to fill and refill 50 large water tanks in central locations in four Gaza population centers. ANERA also purchased and delivered $100,000 worth of antibiotics, anesthetics and anti-coagulants, provided critically needed fuel to keep the Deir Al Balah water desalination plant running, and supplied hygiene kits, water and liquid soap to 12,500 displaced families in 32 UN shelters.

The New Israel Fund – Has aided groups active in a broad range of spheres to bolster Arab-Jewish coexistence and decrease Arab-Jewish tension within Israel, support underprivileged Israelis under threat of rocket attack, and strengthen human rights, democracy and accountability in wartime and thereafter.

Caritas Jerusalem – Part of a worldwide network of Roman Catholic relief agencies, Caritas sends food staples, blankets, and other supplies to Gaza, as well as operating a medical center and a mobile health unit. It has provided psychological services for children and families, and distributed thousands of coloring books and toys.

Its director said recently that about half of the donors to its emergency aid drive for Gaza, were Israeli Jews.

The scale of the war's damage is beyond reckoning. But these groups, and many, many others, are making a start at healing. They include Save the Children and Mercy Corps, which support aid work in Gaza. In rocket-stricken areas of Israel, the American Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Federations of North America have provided support for counseling, relocation and other assistance.

Rescue services, in particular the Palestine Red Crescent Society and Magen David Adom, have saved countless lives under harrowing conditions.

My apologies to the countless individuals and groups who are uncited here, and who are doing God's work. Readers are warmly invited to make their own nominations in the comments space below.

The number of those who have provided and are providing assistance continues to grow.

It's not a cure for heartsickness. But it's the beginning of a treatment. 

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