Americans love the IDF. More than 1.300 business and philanthropic leaders donated $26 million at a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) dinner in New York.
IDF Chief of Benny Gantz was scheduled to address the event but settled for speaking via satellite from Israel, where he is overseeing the military’s response to the latest barrage of missile attacks from Gaza.
He thanked the supporters and told them, “This is very important for us to know that we are not alone.”
Lt. Gen Gantz added, “The Iron dome and active defense systems that we have now are a serious and historical milestone. I think we did right and we will do it in the future as well.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the audience from Israel, saying that “the Jewish State has the capacity to resist attacks. The Israeli army is the guarantor of our future. Thank you for standing by us.”
Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier who was released last October more than five years after Hamas and allied terrorists kidnapped him during a deadly attack on a Gaza crossing, told the crowd in a video speech that he is grateful to Americans who supported him during his captivity.
Among the largest donation to the IDF was a $9.25 million contribution by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).
American astronaut Col. Paul Lockhart also pledged money for the IDF.
The Friends of the IDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors and supports soldiers and their families .