By: Tessy Agassi
My name is Tessy Agassi and I have recently joined the CFOIC Heartland team. I live in a community called Leshem, in Samaria, and I want to thank you all for your wonderful support of my community in recent months. Thanks to you, our CFOIC Heartland donors, Leshem is a much safer place than it was six months ago. I look forward to greeting you on your next visit to Israel, at our offices in Karnei Shomron, in my own home in Leshem, or anywhere else in Judea and Samaria.
Until joining CFOIC Heartland, I was not aware of the extent to which you, our Christian friends have done so much to help the people of Judea and Samaria. I was also not aware of the extraordinary needs of the communities in this area. As a private citizen of Leshem, I was content to see that my children have kind and helpful teachers in their day care centers and pre-schools and trusted that we were adequately protected. But today, I have been able to see the story from the inside, to talk to the leadership of the communities and to learn of the enormous challenges they face as they try their best to ensure the comfort and safety of me and families like my own, the residents of Judea and Samaria.
Just the other day, I had a fascinating conversation with Ahrale, the untiring and devoted head of security of Zufim, a lovely community located along the western edge of Samaria. I was able to steal several minutes from his extremely busy schedule to discuss the worrisome reality that the community has faced over the past couple of months. He explained to me that although Zufim was always in a tricky location, it has become far more vulnerable.
Due to its proximity to the Arab city of Kalkilya, a smuggling route was established right along the edges of Zufim. As a result, there were recurring invasions into the privacy of people’s homes and public buildings with the intention of stealing valuable items. “We do our best to patrol and monitor the fence” Ahrale shares “but we are severely limited by the inadequate equipment and resources that are available to us at the moment.”
As I listened to Ahrale’s explanation of the problems and difficulties of the Zufim security team, I felt my concern for the families of Zufim grow. I could not feel safe raising my children in a community if I could not provide them with a safe environment. And it has happened that a burglary turned quickly into a terrorist attack.
Over the past 29 years, 550 families have built their homes in Zufim. This beautiful community is located in the northern part of Samaria overlooking Israel’s coastal plain. This is a heterogeneous community, which represents Israelis from all walks of life. New immigrants and native-born Israelis, religious and secular Jews have all joined together to create this vibrant community. Although the people of Zufim are proud to settle in an area that is vital to Israel’s security, they want to ensure that they can keep their own families safe.
When we think of home, it inspires thoughts of love and warmth. But most of all, when we imagine a place to raise our families, we consider safety. Being able to provide a child with a safe and secure life is every parent’s dream.
Zufim has an Emergency Rapid Response Team, made up of volunteers who may be called from their homes, sometimes in the middle of the night, or interrupted at work, in cases of emergencies. Recently, CFOIC Heartland helped install surveillance cameras, as additional vigilant eyes, to monitor activity in the area and help keep residents safe. As I spoke to Ahrale, it was really heartwarming to hear how grateful he was for this assistance, thanking the wonderful donors of CFOIC for this tremendous help. “Every little contribution make all the difference for us!”
Now Zufim would like to focus on additional emergency equipment that will help the volunteers and professionals of Zufim ugrade their security protection. There is a pressing need to establish a network of surveillance cameras with a central command control station, including solar transmission ability, to prevent infiltration and breaches of security by hostile elements. The community would like to install a main thermal camera at the entrance of Zufim, designed for extreme outdoor conditions and with broadcast capability. A lighting system with flashing indicator lights will help alert personnel if an intruder is nearby. A sophisticated drone will enhance the security patrols, day and night.
All of these important improvements to Zufim’s security system will represent a huge step towards creating that safe home that Zufim residents are so eager to provide for their families. I hope you will do whatever you can to help the people of Zufim stay safe, feel safe, and protect their children to the best of their ability.