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ICEJ Bolsters Israeli Security and First-Responders During Gaza Border Tour

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15 Jun 2021
ICEJ Bolsters Israeli Security and First-Responders During Gaza Border Tour

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem joined Operation Lifeshield on Monday (14 June) in hosting a visit to Israeli communities along the Gaza border to assess recovery and security efforts in the wake of the recent rocket war with Hamas, and to deliver vital security equipment to regional authorities.

Yesterday’s visit by an ICEJ delegation featured the delivery of a portable bomb shelter to the site near the Erez Crossing where IDF soldier Omer Talib was killed and two others seriously injured in the recent conflict, as well as the hand-over of 120 fire-fighting suits, complete with boots and an ICEJ key-ring carrying a special message to remind the local first responders and volunteer firemen to be strong and courageous. The field trip also included briefings from local security officials, a tour of the Gaza border fence and strategic overlooks into Gaza, and a visit to the Ashkelon factory where the mobile bomb shelters are manufactured.

Standing so close to the Gaza border on a beautiful summer’s day, it is hard to imagine that only a month ago, this area was a war zone. There is still a tangible tension in the air, as the sound of IDF drones buzz overhead, while a security officer warns, “anywhere you can see Gaza, Gaza can see you!” At any time, there could be an eruption destroying the delicate calm.

Over the past twelve years, the ICEJ has donated over 100 portable bomb shelters to Israeli communities near the Gaza border, as well as two dozen fire-fighting vehicles, to deal with the daily threats of terror and arson attacks emanating from Gaza. The ICEJ has another 15-to-20 bomb shelters now on order with Operation Lifeshield.

The solidarity visit began at the Ibim security center for the Sha’ar HaNegev regional council, where the fire-fighting equipment was transferred to local authorities.

“There are very complicated security challenges here, which have not stopped since 2001,” Ayal Chajbi, regional security chief for Shaar HaNegev, told the Christian visitors. “Throughout the recent conflict, we realized where we were missing bomb shelters and sirens and other security measures. But we also realized what we do have – good people who help!”

Chajbi explained why the top-grade firemen’s suits were so needed to fight the daily threat of incendiary balloons from Gaza, adding: “This is a time to say thanks to those who think of us. We pray that we won’t have to use this equipment, that it will be stuck in storage. But the reality is this will give us protection so our communities can continue with their lives.”

“You should know that Christian friends all over the world care about you and are praying for you,” responded Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid & Aliyah. “We are worried for your safety when we hear about the many deliberate fires and other dangers you face here. This is our opportunity to show our support through our actions, and to encourage you to be strong and courageous.”

Later, the delegation watched as a mobile bomb shelter was lowered into place at the entrance to a community area in Nativ HaAsara, just meters from the Gaza fence, which the IDF and Magen David Adom (MDA) use to evacuate the wounded in times of crisis along the Gaza border. This shelter is door-less as we are told that there simply is no time to even open a door to the shelter in this area. With only seconds to spare after the red-alert siren, once you enter the shelter’s passageway, you are safe. The words on the shelter’s dedication plaque “to provide protection and comfort for our dear friends” will stand firm as testimony that this particular shelter was made possible by a generous gift through ICEJ Switzerland.

The IDF soldier killed in the recent rocket war fell near this spot due to a Hamas anti-tank rocket, but the bomb shelter will now allow the IDF and MDA to coordinate evacuations from the area more safely in future.

Thank you for supporting the ICEJ in ensuring that the vulnerable Israeli communities living on the edge of Gaza are protected.
 

 

 

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