BERKELEY, Calif. - A former Bay Area law enforcement officer who moved to Israel is now helping fundraise to support reserve troops in the country.
Jerome Cobert, a retired member of the Berkeley Police Department and Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, says the money raised will be used to buy additional safety supplies designed to help reservists best perform in the field.
"Things that can help enhance what they’re doing. They’re prepared, don’t get me wrong. They have the tools they need, but there’s things that can help the comforts of the soldier that’s going to be on the front lines for a while," said Cobert.
Supplies being purchased with the donated money include Paracord, used by reservists to help secure equipment, first aid kits for use when a medic isn't nearby, blister plasters for soldiers' feet, and tourniquets.
Cobert says people can donate through Norcal Shomrim, a Jewish law enforcement group he serves as president. But he says there are also many other large reputable groups accepting donations right now in Israel, including Israel's volunteer ambulance service, United Hatzalah.
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Cobert says he was moved to help immediately following the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants, which left more than 1400 Israeli civilians dead.
"We knew some of the threats that we would encounter here, but we never thought we would encounter something like this," said Cobert. "It's painful not only as a Jew and an American Israeli, it’s painful as a human being. It’s painful as a human being that there’s so much hate."
Cobert says that while many of his friends are now preparing for the front lines, others he knows have been assigned to identifying the remains of those killed by Hamas militants.
"He goes, ‘Hamas, it’s unspeakable because this is the worst of the worst of human’," said Cobert of one friend who recently recounted his experience identifying victims. "He’s telling me about decapitated people, their arms cut off, you know pregnant women whose stomachs were opened up, and the fetus removed, babies that are burned."
As for those still missing, Cobert says he recently visited an empty Shabbat table in Tel Aviv, which serves as a memorial.
"There’s a chair there for every hostage, and there will be until they’re returned," said Cobert.