JERUSALEM—As the scope of atrocities carried out by Hamas terrorists continued to come to light from security footage and by media invited by the Israel Defense Forces to observe the scene on the ground, Israel’s security cabinet approved the call-up of a further 360,000 reservists, doubling the number currently deployed in preparation for an unprecedented battle aimed to deal a fatal blow to Hamas.

Five days after the start of the war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, the chairman of the National Unity Party, announced the the establishment of an emergency government. As a result of the agreement "war management cabinet" will be formed, which will have only three members: Netanyahu, Gantz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot and Minister Ron Dermer will serve as observers in the limited cabinet.

The toll from the surprise Hamas attack that began on Saturday morning exceeded 1,200 on Wednesday after there were more fatalities from barrages of rocket attacks. The number is expected to rise further, with the uncertain fate of about 150 people who were kidnapped and taken into Gaza. The dead included at least 123 soldiers and 37 police officers. The rest were Israeli men, women and children murdered by terrorists. A military spokesperson said that the families of 50 confirmed captives in Gaza have been informed thus far.

The spokesperson said that Israel had full control of the Gaza border area, although encounters with infiltrating terrorists may still occur. “This is a war zone,” he said. “We are building a wall made of tanks, planes and choppers to prevent incursions, and our policy of engagement there is to shoot and kill anyone approaching the border,” adding that all civilians in the communities on the border have been evacuated.

While rocket fire to the south continued through Wednesday, Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries and a host of volunteers are working around the clock to source and deliver supplies to those on active duty. The focal points for their distribution are three Chabad centers near IDF bases that regularly serve troops with hot meals, Torah classes, personal counseling and encouragement: in the south, Chabad of Eilat; in Judea, Chabad of Hebron; and in the north, Chabad of Metula.

Rocket attacks from Gaza continued to batter Sderot. - Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90
Rocket attacks from Gaza continued to batter Sderot.
Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90

Inspired by the teachings and example of the RebbeRabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—who infused optimism in the Israeli populace and the Israeli Defense Forces, proclaiming clearly that Israel would be victorious in the darkest hours—the Chabad emissaries provide both material and spiritual sustenance to the troops every day.

Rabbi Mendi and Chana Klein of Chabad of Eilat are in touch with the commanders in the eight military bases surrounding the coastal city at the southern tip of Israel. The bases in the area are primarily for training, and usually have tens of thousands of soldiers. Now, during war, nearly 100,000 soldiers are onsite.

“Yesterday, we delivered huge amounts of sweat-resistant tzitzit, packages of food, and sweets,” Rabbi Klein told “They came suddenly in the middle of Simchat Torah, so they also need things like underwear and socks. My daughter is now driving a large delivery van full of these items that soldiers requested to a base an hour away.”

Aside from practical needs, the soldiers also look to Chabad for spiritual inspiration and care. “These are soldiers who are training to go into the most dangerous parts of Gaza. So we help them put on tefillin, give them words of encouragement and do what we can to uplift them.”

On a normal day, Rabbi Danny Cohen, who has directed Chabad of Hebron with his wife, Batsheva, for two decades, would be serving hundreds of soldiers in his home and giving them encouragement as they patrol the streets. But today he’s in uniform on reserve duty, along with the three other rabbis of Chabad of Hebron.

Soldiers at a base near Eilat look forward to both necessities and treats. - Photo courtesy Chabad of Eilat
Soldiers at a base near Eilat look forward to both necessities and treats.
Photo courtesy Chabad of Eilat

Cohen proudly sent photos of himself, Rabbi Mordechai Hellinger, Rabbi Yoni Attiah, and Rabbi Itzik Naimark—the entire Chabad of Hebron rabbinate in uniform—guarding the holy city.

“You know, the headlines in Israel over the past year may have been very divisive,” says Cohen. “But suddenly, a spell came over the Jewish people, and we remembered to unite. In one moment, all this friction, all this tension, that whole focus, everything just disappeared. And we’re here together.”

On the opposite end of Israel, at the very northern tip, is a tiny town called Metula. Here, Rabbi Moshe and Bracha Leah Sasonkin have been directing Chabad of Metula’s activities since 1989, including through the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.

“We are on the top of the hill, facing strategic targets,” says Sasonkin. “On Monday, we woke up to loud booms, as the soldiers were firing from our roof at Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.”

“Metula is a small town, and the soldiers become family to all the residents here, so we help in refilling coffee stations, and ensuring they have snacks, good food, and all their needs. We even have a WhatsApp group where soldiers will alert us if a coffee station is running low.”

“Last night, we learned that a unit would be heading on a difficult mission,” says Sasonkin. “So my daughters went to the large kitchen in nearby Kiryat Shmona, and cooked and packaged 70 fresh meals for them to eat upon return.”

Rabbi Moshe Sasonkin helps a soldier don tefillin - Photo courtesy Chabad of Metula
Rabbi Moshe Sasonkin helps a soldier don tefillin
Photo courtesy Chabad of Metula

Events at Chabad Centers Around the World

As soon as the holiday ended in the Diaspora, a campaign was launched online on urging the public to pray and add in good deeds in the merit of the safety and security of the people of Israel. The same call to action was also released on Instagram and other social-media platforms.

In Binghamton, N.Y., almost 700 students at SUNY Binghamton and local community members came together in the center of the campus on Monday to pray, sing and gain strength from each other while showing their support for Israel. The event was a joint program arranged by the Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Life and other campus organizations.

Several students with connections to Israel, including a student whose brother-in-law in the Israel Defense Forces was killed over the weekend, spoke during the program. Additionally, many took on particular mitzvahs, including the more than 30 students who put up mezuzahs on their dorm rooms.

“Students are very shaken up, and we are having a lot of group discussions and one-on-one conversations,” said Rabbi Levi Slonim, director of programming at the Chabad center.

“Three days after the Yom Kippur War, the Rebbe pointed out that in Psalms 121 we say that G‑d ‘watches us and is our shadow.’ The Rebbe explained that the way we act causes G‑d in tandem, like a shadow. The more we strengthen ourselves in good deeds and joy, that will bring strength to our brothers and sisters in Israel.”

In London, Chabad of the United Kingdom will hold a nationwide rally to be broadcast on Zoom that included insights from Chabad emissaries in Israel. In Bozeman, Mont., a rally is scheduled for Tuesday evening at the Chabad Lubavitch Center for Jewish Life and Learning. The synagogue seats 100 people, but far more people—both Jews and non-Jews—are likely to attend.

During the program, Chavie and Rabbi Chaim Bruk, co-directors of the Chabad center, will speak about how G‑d gave the land of Israel to the Jews, as well as the importance of Jews keeping their heads high and staying strong in tough times.

Rabbi Bruk said he will also remind those in attendance that historically, “all the enemies of the Jews from the Romans to the Byzantine are all gone, but Am Yisrael Chai, ‘the Jewish People live.’ ”

A rally in support of Israel in Manhattan drew a large crowd.
A rally in support of Israel in Manhattan drew a large crowd.

Prayers and Good Deeds

Prayers, Psalms and additional good deeds in the merit of everyone impacted by the war have been going on virtually non-stop in Israel and around the world from the moment the first sirens were heard prior to morning services.

Although some services were canceled in towns under direct attack near the Gaza border, the Simchat Torah hakafot took place in synagogues around Israel during lulls between rocket attacks. The prayers, singing and dancing contained an intense combination of unbridled joy and anxious pleas for safety and protection that many said they had never experienced before.

After the holiday and in the day since the attack, spontaneous acts of kindness have been taking place around Israel, as well as centralized programs to help those in need.

During past conflicts in the Land of Israel, and during times of danger for the Jewish people, the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—made practical suggestions of mitzvahs that would elicit G‑d’s blessings and protection. Among them are tefillin, Shabbat candles, mezuzah, charity and acts of kindness, and Torah study.

To pray for the safety of all residents of the Holy Land, Psalms 20, 22, 69 and 150 are traditionally said in times of distress.

For more information, inspiration and insights on the Gaza War visit’s Israel at War home page, which includes 7 Things You Can Do for Israel Now and instructions on how to Donate to the Israel Emergency Relief Fund.