Rabbi Weil (left) receiving a briefing in the situation room in Ashkelon. To his immediate right are Jerry Silverman, President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Mayor of Ashkelon, Benny Vaknin.
Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Rabbi Steven Weil returned this morning from an emergency four-day mission to Israel arranged by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to assess the results of the war with Hamas.
The mission was organized for “a small contingent of the highest levels of Orthodox Jewish leadership, representing the synagogue movements, the Federations and other organizations.”
Participants met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; President Shimon Peres; Stanley Fischer, Governor of the Bank of Israel for the economic impact; and with leading generals. They visited wounded soldiers in hospitals in Be’er Sheva and Ashkelon, and sat in the situation room in Ashkelon, a target of Hamas rockets, with the mayor and other dignitaries. The group was in Israel when the truce was declared.
Hamas was guilty of two war crimes, Rabbi Weil said -- firing at civilians (in Israel) and hiding among the civilian population (in Gaza).
“We learned what was involved in the negotiations,” Rabbi Weil said, and we were informed that the Iron Dome missile defense system was successful 84 percent of the time. The positives were that “Egypt took a strong position dealing with Hamas,” and that “Egypt has committed itself to stopping the flow of weapons from Sinai to Gaza through the tunnels. Part of the calculation of not going into Gaza was to keep the attention of the world on Iran. The results in Gaza cannot be a deterrent from the focus of the international community on Iran. Iran is a threat to humanity as well as to the Jewish homeland. The world, as well as Israel, will not take their eye off the bulls-eye – which is the Iranian nuclear program.”
Rabbi Weil renews old ties with the President of Israel, Shimon Peres.
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