July 19, 2024
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Magen Yehuda Embarks on First U.S. Tour to Strengthen Civilian Response to Terror

Last year, almost to date, Israel suffered a “wave of terror.” Civilians were attacked in their cars, places of employment and even by intrusions into their own homes. According to Tzur Meier, director of Magen Yehuda, “We are fighting a new form of war, not against an external enemy but an enemy inside our borders. Thirty years ago the method of warfare was to kidnap citizens and then negotiate for their release. Today’s attackers simply come into our homes, maim and kill. There are an average three attacks daily and panic everywhere. This forces us to create a new way of pushing back and protecting our citizens.”

In 2004, Magen Yehuda was established by a group of concerned Israeli citizens to boost Israel’s security in the many small towns and yishuvim throughout the country. In light of the new tactics being employed by the terrorists, these citizens saw the need to prepare quick response teams within these small communities that could react within minutes of an infiltration until IDF forces could reach the site of the attack. It is important to note that these units were formed and are supported by the IDF, which provides them with basic equipment and weapons.

Since the 1990s, the IDF saw the need to train local residents as “first responders” within their communities. Thus, the Kitat Konenut program was established through which individual community residents are available to respond at a moment’s notice should the need arise. These are volunteers including doctors, lawyers, schoolteachers, rabbis, contractors—anyone who is willing to “go the extra mile” to protect his/her neighbors. Unfortunately, the IDF is limited in its resources and can only subsidize one to two days of training within each community.

In response to the need for additional training, and to outsource the adequate training sessions needed to effectively protect the citizens of these small towns, Magen Yehuda was formed. At its helm is CEO Ehud Dribben, a former IDF officer having served in an elite unit and who developed a counter-terrorist protocol for the IDF. Dribben has worked extensively with the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs as well as with the Israeli Police. Under his leadership, Magen Yehuda steps in to fill in the gaps in IDF training provided to the communities from North to South, in Yehuda and Shomron. Magen Yehuda works in collaboration with the IDF to provide individualized security plans for each locality.

In addition to tactical response teams throughout the country, Magen Yehuda offers a hitchhiker safety course, a women’s self-defense course, a schoolteachers’ protection course as well as a family protection plan. Training is offered to the local security chief of each town to work in conjunction with Tzachi, the community volunteer corps.

For Magen Yehuda, the upcoming Teaneck program is their first foray into the world of fundraising. Meier approached Teaneck’s Bennett Deutsch about hosting a program through which their work would be brought to the attention of a highly proactive Zionist Jewish community. Deutsch has been heavily involved in pro-Israel causes since the second intifada. He has brought many programs to our community, which has lent them substantial support.

Magen Yehuda’s goal is to provide up to six days of training to vulnerable Israeli communities. To date, their services are provided to more than 430 communities and is staffed by over 8,000 volunteers. To provide the highest level of training, Magen Yehuda is in need of funding. Their necessary cutting-edge equipment includes paintball, airsoft and real combat tactical equipment, as well as protective body gear including bullet-proof vests, knee and elbow pads, tactical vests, specialized scopes, hydration packs and more. “Our goal is to make sure that our teams have everything they need to do their jobs as safely and efficiently as possible,” said Meier.

Appearing at the program will be Director Tzur Meier, CEO Ehud Dribben, as well as Shuki Gilboa, a member of the First Response Team of Kiryat Arba. Gilboa will share his personal story of being a first responder during the horrific murder of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, Hy”d, as she lay asleep in her Kiryat Arba home. Gilboa was badly injured and suffered the loss of an eye.

The community is urged to attend the upcoming Magen Yehuda program “Standing in the Line of Terror,” to be held on Sunday, September 25, at Congregation Rinat Yisrael, 389 Englewood Avenue, at 8 p.m.

By Pearl Markovitz

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