Israel has been forced into war yet again. At 6:30 a.m. on October 7, hundreds of armed Hamas terrorists streamed across the Gaza border into Israel’s southern communities to kidnap and murder soldiers and civilians. The terrifying sound of automatic gunfire soon tore through the Shabbat quiet. Civilians making their way to synagogue or out for a walk scattered, locking themselves in their homes and calling loved ones as roaming bands of terrorists attacked anyone they could find. Footage of terrorists running down the streets of Israeli communities, shooting into windows or staring through doorbell cameras began swirling on social media. Gun battles erupted in more than 21 locations as Israeli soldiers, police, security guards and armed civilians fought the terrorists house to house.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) mobilized quickly to block off streets, shut down communities and reinforce the Gaza border as the Israel Air Force began striking terror targets in the coastal enclave.
As the rockets continued to fall, the chilling footage on social media increased. Hamas driving captured IDF military vehicles inside Gaza. Terrorists holding a terrified family captive in their home. Terror leaders proudly proclaiming that they’ve kidnapped dozens of Israeli soldiers and civilians. As I write this message, details are still emerging. The death toll stands at 40, with hundreds wounded. Nine hours after the attack began, an unspecified number of Hamas terrorists are still roaming through Israeli communities.
At noon, the IDF launched “Swords of Iron,” a large-scale operation to defend Israeli civilians against the combined attack launched against Israel by Hamas this morning. Once again, Israel is at war! Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Israelis to stand together and vowed to destroy Hamas.
Mere hours before, I was dozing in bed, tiredly thinking to myself that today is Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah), a day of celebrating God’s Word. On this day, Jewish people usually dance with Torah scrolls and praise God for His Word. I heard my phone vibrating, but before I could pick it up, my wife gasped, “Peter! It’s the Red Alert! A massive barrage of rockets are being fired at Israel!”
I quickly grabbed my phone, wiped the sleep from my eyes and stared at the dozens of notifications on my Red Alert App indicating the worst. I climbed out of bed as the realization hit that war with the Hamas terror army seemed eminent.
I was preparing breakfast for my children when it happened. For the first time in four years, air raid sirens screamed through Jerusalem. Breakfast forgotten, we ran for our bomb shelter. Huddling inside, we sang songs of comfort to our children, explained things to them, prayed, cuddled them and waited until we could leave. After the sirens ended, we waited ten minutes, as directed by the Home Front Command. We used the time to message and call our Bridges for Peace volunteers and family.
We ran to our shelter another eight times throughout the morning, trying to calm our children and stay up to date as the horror of the situation intensified. With reports of mounting death toll and war raging, we could not help but reflect on the fact that yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, when Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel on the holiest day of the year to wipe the Jewish nation off the map. Now Israel faces another terrible threat that is unfolding before our eyes in real time. The calls from the enemies of Israel are deafening: “Destroy Israel! Wipe out the Jews! All out war!” But we know that the Lord God of Israel has no match. We know that there is a power that the enemies of Israel have completely underestimated. That power is not found in tanks, cyber security, jets or soldiers but in the Lord Almighty alone. That is why we are calling you to prayer.
“My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth…He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep…The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul” (Ps. 121:2, 3b–4, 7).
I call on you, each of you, to please help in this grave hour of need. Stand with Israel! Pray for Israel! Give a special gift to our Crisis Fund so that we can demonstrate the love of God by blessing the people of Israel in this time of terror! The communities in the south that we have supported for years have been traumatized and broken. They need our support. Will you help see Israel through this war? This is your hour!
With utmost urgency,
Rev. Peter Fast
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