Have you ever been in a rocket attack in Israel? I have! It is a day I will never forget for the rest of my life. The following is an entry from my journal of the trip Sandi, my wife, and I made to Israel in the spring of 2008. On this day I was only about a mile from the Gaza Strip when suddenly the sirens went off I found myself fleeing for a bomb shelter as the rockets were flying overhead from the Philistines in Gaza.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Yesterday the search team looked for aviv barley in the area west of the Gaza Strip. We checked numerous fields and found no barley any closer than a month or six weeks to aviv. Much of it hadn’t even headed yet, while that which was the most mature was only in the flowering stage with the kernel itself in the “cotton” stage and not even to the “worm” stage. So after searching the majority of the land of Israel and not having found a single stock of truly aviv barley, it can be safely declared that the barley will not be aviv and that we will declare an Adar Bet month.
The region we searched in and around Ofain, Sderot, and Asheklon is basically quite flat with a few rolling hills. It is used totally for agriculture with fields of grain, fruits, and vegetables as far as the eye can see. Small farming communities are sprinkled throughout with hub towns here and there. The area is reminiscent of Illinois. The largest tree fruit crop is citrus. It is clear, in light of the countless orange (and lemon and grapefruit) groves I have seen throughout Israel why this nation is number one exporter of oranges to Europe.
As we were passing by Sderot in search of barley, the braver (or more foolhardy—depending on your perspective) part of our group as led by Nehemia, decided to go into Sderot to get a feel for what the Israelis in that town are experiencing from the daily barrage of rockets raining down on them from the Gazan Palestinian terrorists on the other side of a fence only a mile away.
Before entering this red flag warning area, Nehemia warned us that if we should just happen to hear the sirens go off warning of an approaching rocket attack, or we should see people suddenly running for cover, that we would have 15 seconds to get out of our cars and flee for cover. All we were hoping to see was a bomb shelter.
We entered Sderot and turned into a very modern looking college campus called Sapir College. It looked like one of our American community colleges. We went through a checkpoint and entered the campus in our cars. We drove in a ways and came to a parking lot area near a complex of building when suddenly we saw students running quickly toward the buildings. My first impression was that they were all late to class and that the tardy bell had gone off. It had slipped my mind that this was a college and not a grade school. Suddenly, Nehemia stopped his car, jumped out yelling to those of us in the other two cars that this was a real rocket attack and to head for a nearby concrete bomb shelter pill box looking affair approximately 10 foot square in size. I quickly stopped the car, everyone got out, and in my haste I forgot to set the car in park and it started coasting. I got back in, changed the gear and grabbed my movie camera. I was the last one into the bomb shelter, which was about 75-100 feet away. There were about 15-20 of us (members of our search team and students) standing shoulder to shoulder (like being in a crowded elevator) in there. A couple of minutes passed, the scare was over, everyone got out, and quickly the cell phones came out and people were making phone calls—I suppose to let friends and loved ones know that they were safe. After that, everyone went on his way, business as usual.
I witnessed first-hand the panic of people fleeing for their lives to the safety of the bomb shelter. I personally experienced the feelings of fear of knowing that a rocket was coming from somewhere that could land anywhere. Chances were that it wouldn’t land near me, much less on me. BUT WHO KNOWS?! And it is that “who knows” part that is really scary! I face fear for my life on a regular basis as a professional tree climber and arborist. But this fear was different. This is a war zone. In our searching for aviv barley in this area, we saw 15 or more lowboy semi-trucks going by carrying huge battle tanks. We saw even more armored troop carriers on lowboys. Soldiers are everywhere—many carrying automatic weapons. THIS WAS/IS A WAR ZONE! We were in the middle of it. It was life and death and there was an enemy over there who wanted to kill me—not with words—but literally. That was a totally new experience for me. I now have a small taste of what the Israelis at Sderot are going through every day.
We later heard on the news that two Qasam rockets from the wicked demons in Gaza landed in Sderot yesterday.
When we left the bomb shelter, we all walked about 200 feet to the sidewalk in front of the school buildings. There we saw a memorial and wreath with photos of an Israeli father of four who had been killed by a rocket the past week at that exact spot! I filmed the small nearby crater in the sidewalk made by the rocket that killed the man. The bloody paramedic glove was still in the 12” deep by 18” wide crater. That spot was 150 feet or so from the bomb shelter in which I took refuge and was only 75-100 feet from where I parked my car! Richard Bay from Vancouver, WA was in my car and saw it all.
We left Sderot and the college and met up with the rest of our team at a small eatery where many Israelis gather to enjoy food at an outdoor café. Some in our group got beers (it was about 85 degrees outside), others got a coke and I got ice cream. The whole thing was too surreal for me. One minute I’m fleeing for my life, the next I’m feeding my face relaxing in an outdoor café. But this is how our brothers and sisters in Israel live their lives. Though they never know when a bomb might go off, a rocket might hit or whatever, life goes on.
Several days ago, a rocket landed in a neighborhood of southern Jerusalem fired from the West Bank. In Tiberias where we just were, some Arabs were demonstrating. Yesterday in an Arab section in Jerusalem some angry Arabs tried to kill a couple of garbage workers. Last night Arabs broke into a Yeshiva and shot and killed four Jews. Secretary Rice is in Jerusalem right now trying to help find a solution to this mess by talking, talking and more talking with the parties involved. What utter foolishness and nonsense! These leaders are so deluded by their own self importance that they are blinded to the fact that nothing they can do will change the hatred Edom has for Israel. That will not change until Edom is destroyed prior to and at Yeshua’s second coming as prophesied in the Bible.
While in the area of Sderot, we also saw the once used border crossing checkpoint into Gaza near Gush Katif and the adjacent internment camp for those terrorist captured at that once active border crossing. The Doberman dogs still roam freely within its barbed wire metal walls.
After that, we left the area and headed back to Jerusalem. In the outskirts of the city we stopped at a kosher McDonalds. I haven’t eaten at a McDonalds in 15 years but, I got a hamburger just for the fun of it. No cheese on the burger because of the rabbinical koshur rules that forbid the mixing of dairy and meat! It just wasn’t the same without the cheese. At the counter there is a wall that divides the meat products from the dairy ones. Those silly rabbis!! They take themselves and the unbiblical traditions so seriously.