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Amid conflict, Bay Area Israeli community rallies to aid stranded

Bay Area Israeli community rallies to aid compatriots stranded during conflict
Bay Area Israeli community rallies to aid compatriots stranded during conflict 03:20

PALO ALTO – In the midst of the conflict in Israel, a room in Palo Alto has transformed into a hub of support and solidarity.

Offir Gutelzon, founder of, is leading a movement aimed at assisting Israelis stranded in the United States due to canceled flights to Israel.

"There are different needs. People might need to go back to Israel because they lost loved ones. People need to go back to Israel because they need to join their Army," Gutelzon told KPIX

While politics have often divided communities, this initiative stands as a testament to human compassion and unity in the face of adversity. has become a lifeline for Israelis trying to return home amid the conflict.

Following the suspension of direct flights from the US to Israel by several airlines, Gutelzon and his team have been tirelessly working to match travelers, particularly students and those with urgent needs, with private jets.

Offir Gutelzon, founder of, sits in his Palo Alto office as he tries to help people in Israel and the United States who are stranded due to a conflict against Hamas, October 9, 2023. CBS

"Some people need to go back and they can't because the direct flight of United from SFO has been canceled and therefore they need to stay around. So we created a platform to host families who are getting stuck, Israelis getting stuck here and around the country," he explained

Their efforts have been particularly vital for individuals linked to the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

"We are helping people who are traveling: students, post docs, people who are really in need to go back their unit. So we're trying to match between private jets and people," Gutelzon said.

Among those deeply impacted are families like Adam and Michal Lapede, whose two daughters are currently serving in the Israeli Army. The conflict has left them anxious and concerned for their daughters' safety.

 "I cannot protect my daughters, they have to do it on their own at this point," said Michal Lepede. "So yeah we're gonna try to figure out, can we make it there? How close can we go? What help can we afford them?"

For the tight-knit Israeli community in Palo Alto, this situation has spurred collective action. Donations are being collected to aid families affected by the attacks, emphasizing the unity and solidarity among community members during this challenging time.

Dekel Green, another member of the Palo Alto community, shared the heart-wrenching story of his cousin's husband, who tragically lost his life in Friday's attack.

These shared sorrows have bound the community together, fostering an atmosphere of empathy and shared resolve.

Despite the distance, the Palo Alto community remains connected to their homeland, waiting anxiously for the moment they can return.

For Michal Lapede, every night until dawn brings a palpable sense of fear, hoping for the dawn that signifies safety in Israel. The support and determination within this community illustrate the resilience of the human spirit in the face of uncertainty, proving that even amidst despair, kindness and unity can light the way forward.

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