From food to shelter, this is how volunteers help those who have fled Hamas attacks

The tom-tam started on WhatsApp, then Facebook and Instagram: reports of vacant houses, appointments to collect food and clothes, messages from hotels making their rooms available for those who no longer have a place to stay. In Israel, after the October 7 attacks in the south of the country, a solidarity network was quickly created to help those most affected. And it happened in a country which, before the attack by Hamas terrorists, was going through a period of strong tensions and social divisions, with important protests also – and above all – against the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. “In this difficult moment, we cannot concentrate on that, but rather we must focus on all the solidarity initiatives that are being seen in recent days”, he explains, interviewed by Sky TG24Ron Huberman, 29 years old, originally from the Haifa district and now among the volunteers in action in Tel Aviv (ALL UPDATES ON THE CONFLICT LIVE).

Accommodations for those arriving from the South

“We’re trying to do something that represents life, which is helping people and helping out especially those who don’t have a home,” says Ron. “In my case, it is a private initiative: some of my friends and I learned that there was a very large house in Tel Aviv, free, and that the owners wanted to lend a hand, making it available for those needed it, especially for families from the South”, some of whom had to move to the center of the country after the attacks. So the mobilization began and, “in the last three days, we have helped to collect what was needed to host five families, so that they could have safe accommodation”. We rely heavily on word of mouth and on a network of messages on social networks, mainly: “There are many initiatives of this type, many people write what they can donate – food, clothes – and others make their homes available”. “There are so many volunteers,” continues Ron. “In reality, we can say that the initiative on this front is no longer ‘private’, because we have created a kind of movement, in the various neighborhoods, in the various areas, especially in the Tel Aviv area.”

Initiatives in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv itself is one of the main hubs in the aid chain. The organizations in the field have created a network that can assist citizens arriving from the South of the country with transport, accommodation, equipment and even psychological support. The Brothers and Sisters in Arms group – mainly made up of reserve soldiers and veterans – having put aside the protests of which they have been the protagonist in recent months, has been organizing a food collection and collection points in the city since Sunday for donations of clothes and other objects, including for the military, finding the support of hundreds of citizens, as he wrote The Times of Israel. Many restaurants and bars in the city prepare meals and desserts, both for civilians and soldiers. And some hotels do their part too. As can be read on the Instagram page @telaviv, many accommodation facilities have opened their doors to some of the civilians who survived the Hamas attacks, collaborating with the city’s Scouts to offer entertainment to the little ones. Meanwhile, online, initiatives are multiplying, also to offer psychological support. The group Mothers on the Frontline, for example, is busy organizing meetings via Zoom with mental health professionals, for “mothers, grandmothers and wives of soldiers who are going to the front”. And, throughout the country, in the last week, from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv itself, thousands have responded to the appeal to donate blood.