By Callie Mitchell, SAVED News International Correspondent, Jerusalem, Israel
It has been a hard week for many of our friends and neighbors in Tel Aviv, Askelon, Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Sderot, and surrounding cities. The situation here in Jerusalem is still calm, and we are very safe (I always think I should start with that!). In fact, it seems almost abnormally calm in comparison to how intense the rocket fire has been in South and Central Israel.
Since the Israeli Disengagement from Gaza in 2005, there has been ongoing conflict. I’ve been in Israel for three military operations involving Hamas now. The last two had far less escalation in surrounding areas before they started launching rockets into Jerusalem, so this round has been characteristically different. In general, we get less rocket fire in Jerusalem because it would require longer-range missiles to travel from Gaza. They have longer-range missiles, but they tend to reserve them. Also, their landings are too indiscriminate to the risk of possibly hitting Temple Mount or one of the Arab villages in the area.
This round, they decided to ceremonially kick off this attack with rockets fired into Jerusalem on Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) which fell on May 10th, after the Iranian Ayatollah, Ali Khamenei, called for the annihilation of Israel and stated that Israel could be defeated in his Quds Day speeches on May 7th and 8th. Quds is the Arabic for Jerusalem, and Quds Day, the last Friday of Ramadan, is the day reserved for demonstrating against Israel and Zionism.
Iran backs and funds Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, all three of which are designated terrorist organizations. This conflict we are in is not as simple as a war with the Palestinian people. Rather, it’s actually a proxy war with Iran on multi-fronts, and not nearly as asymmetrical as leftist propaganda would have us to believe for that reason. Iran’s involvement is biblically significant because Iran, ancient Persian in your bible, is a major player in the Gog and Magog war, prophesied in Ezekiel 38, which will take place before Messiah Yeshua’s return.
Iran recently released a report on Israel’s defense systems that determined the Iron Dome, our anti-missile system, to have a weakness in dealing with large quantities of rockets. In following this report, Hamas has changed its strategy. They have been firing barrages of nearly 200 rockets within a 5-minute time frame and launching them at an increased speed. The idea is to overwhelm the Iron Dome, which typically has around 90% effectiveness. All of this is specified by Iranian intelligence.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Living with the understanding that rocket barrages are being lobbed into civilian centers all around us, and something could happen where we are, is an interesting reality. The general cultural response is to “keep calm and carry on.” We all go about our days as normally as possible and are encouraged to do so. It’s only so normal when it’s on the back of my mind that we could potentially have a siren.
We’ve been having conversations at home about what it means to “live ready.” This goes far beyond the possibility of escalation in Jerusalem, but in a bigger sense, to be ready for Messiah Yeshua’s return. The parable of the Ten Virgins with the lampstands has been life-giving for us, as we talked about keeping our own oil flasks full of the Holy Spirit during this time. We want to be full so that we can be a light in spirit-led ways that manifest in practical ways.
In this hour, in the practical sense, it means having a well-prepared “mamad” (bomb shelter).
Some friends ours in Jerusalem wrote a bible study and crisis preparedness guide called Preparedness Peace that I highly recommend. Their primary emphasis is that as believers, we prepare so we can lead and serve our community in a time of crisis. When everyone else is “panic buying”, we can be at peace. I’ve followed their instructions over the years and made our home emergency ready. We have a wide range of emergency supplies, food, and water, that we keep year-round. I also keep a box of basic emergency supplies such as lights, snacks, a crank radio, and other important items together that we moved down to our mamad at the start of this operation.
In keeping our oil flasks full, I added some clothes and diapers to our mamad box, along with some crayons and different actives for the children. If the situation escalates here to the point that has been in the South and Central cities, we’d move more supplies down and make it home for a while.
Our mamad is a basement school classroom. Besides being full to code for school safety standards, it’s colorful, carpeted, and has a great library. Our children have asked to go in and play some every day, which I think has been their way of making it a more familiar and safe space. We’ve been having really sweet family prayer time for Israel down there together, too.
Preparing our mamad has been a tremendous blessing and means of helping to keep us calm and focus during this time. Its been a physical reminder of Psalm 91:1,
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”
I hope we do not need to spend extended time in our mamad, but we are ready if we do, and that helps my Ima (mom)-heart to rest well.
Israeli officials have stated that they will not agree to a ceasefire until they have completed the mission. Right now, it looks like this mission is primarily one of eliminating the infrastructure of underground tunnels Hamas has built to store and move weapons. They have not given us a time frame for how long this could go on.
Pray for all of us to have endurance while this mission continues, and for the safety and protection of all civilians, both in Israel and in Gaza. Please pray for our IDF and IAF as they carry out their work. Mostly, please pray for the revelation of the Lord’s love, truth, and SALVATION to rain down on this nation.
Thank you for your love and support!