The US-based Friends of the IDF organization (FIDF)
held its annual fundraiser on Tuesday and raised $26 million – NIS 98 million – in favor of the Israeli military.
Over 1,300 prominent business and philanthropic leaders attended the $1,000-a-plate gala dinner, which was held at New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Among those attending the gala were Israel's Military Attaché in Washington Major-General Gadi Shamni,
Israel's Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and FIDF National Director Maj-Gen (Res.) Jerry Gershon.
The evening was held under the banner of the "IDF's Special Forces," and included a special live satellite link allowing the donors to meet members of the military's elite unit and tour their base.
Gilad Shalit's video message (Photo: Shahar Azran)
The event featured video messages from former Hamas captive Gilad Shalit
and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Thanking the military's benefactors, Netanyahu said that "The Jewish State has the strength to withstand attacks. The IDF
is the basis for our existence and is the guarantor of our future. Thank you for standing by us."
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
addressed the gala via satellite from a southern Israel-based Iron Dome
battery and thanked the crowd, saying the IDF was "grateful to learn that we are not alone."
Gilad Shalit, via a pre-recorded video speech, expressed his gratitude to Americans who supported him during his five years in Hamas captivity.
Rabbi Eckstein's IFCJ gave one of the largest donations of the evening – $9.25 million.
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