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Returning to Israel to help amid the chaos of war with Hamas

While many people have been trying to flee Israel in the days since Hamas’ attacks on Oct. 7, there are some who have instead been struggling to get into the country to help. 

One of those people is Maayan Cohen. She’s the CEO of the Menlo Park-based company Hello Heart, which offers a digital coaching app to help people manage heart health. 

Coehn, who is from Israel, was in the U.S. when Hamas attacked last Saturday. With a headquarters and 60 employees in Tel Aviv, Cohen got on the first available flight back. 

She told NBC Bay Area that one of her employees had to hide in a bomb shelter for 30 hours.

Cohen said her employee, “locked herself in a bomb shelter with her two kids – she’s pregnant, and she was trying to keep them busy so they could stay quiet.”

When her employee was able to evacuate safely, she learned that many of her neighbors, friends, and family members had been killed in the attack.

Cohen explained that many of her employees have been drafted and sent off to fight.

“My heart goes out,” she said, “to all the Israeli victims of this war and all the Palestinian victims of this war.”

Hello Heart’s Tel Aviv offices have turned into an aid center, with employees helping to box up donations.

“The first thing we did was we realized there was a lot of help needed because there are a ton of families who have been evacuated from that area, and need help, need baby supplies and clothes,” Cohen explained.

People pack boxes of aid donations at the Hello Heart Tel Aviv offices. Photo Courtesy Hello Heart.

She said that in Tel Aviv, she continues to hear rockets firing at Israel and several times a day, an alarm alerts her that it’s time to go into a bomb shelter.

“The streets are pretty much empty, it feels like war, everybody is scared, nobody is going out,” she said.

Cohen said she and her employees each know people whose lives have been lost or forever changed by this ongoing conflict. She said she knows someone in Israel whose house was destroyed by a rocket on Saturday.

She plans to continue staying in Israel to support her employees there and provide aid to people in the community.

“If you want to help, speak up, the world needs to know what happened,” she emphasized.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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