The solidarity mission of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) traveled to the south of Israel Thursday, to meet with Israelis living under the constant threat of Hamas rocket fire.
President Shimon Peres, WJC President Ronald Lauder and the other members the 78-strong WJC delegation paid a visit to Kibbutz Zikim near Gaza, where the IDF apprehended a Hamas naval infiltration attempt earlier this week.
Ronald S. Lauder told Peres and the kibbutz members that he had been "overwhelmed by the response of the heads of Jewish communities in coming on this mission on such short notice” and that “world Jewry is united in its desire to stand side-by-side with Israel during this dangerous period."
Presidents Peres, Lauder and the chairman of the Hof Ashkelon district, Yair Farjoun, addressed the kibbutz residents. Children badly affected by the incessant rocket attacks were given vouchers for a day off at a water park.
Peres welcomed the WJC delegation.
“Today, coincidentally, we mark 110th anniversary of Theodor Herzl's death," he said. "We know that his first dream, for the creation of a Jewish state has been fulfilled. I hope his second dream will come true as well, and that is to live in peace. "
The mission then traveled to Sha’ar HaHegev and Sderot, areas which have been one of the worst-hit by the rockets from Gaza.
“You are not alone," Lauder declared. "We believe in you and stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel. When you have difficulties, we stand with you."
Speaker of Knesset Yuli Edelstein was present as well.
“We will prevail only with unity and courage," Edelstein stated to the WJC delegation. "Your being here reflects that perfectly."
"I know you don't need my advice," he added. "Sderot needs your partnership and leadership. We are here not to die for our ideals but to live for them and to see Sderot flourish. For that we need partnership with our friends around the world.”
The mission, which came to a close on Thursday evening, comprised representatives from all WJC regions: North America, South America, Europe, Euro-Asia, and Africa. 57 international Jewish leaders came to Israel for two days of meetings. A further 21 Israeli leaders and WJC staff joined them. The mission was organized at very short notice.