Tunnels of Terror

August 4, 2014

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Dear Friends of Israel,

The people of southern Israel are used to hearing code red sirens warning of incoming rockets. Sadly, it has become a feature of life in this part of the country – and, now, it is becoming a feature of life throughout Israel, as terrorists extend the murderous reach of their rockets to threaten six million Israelis. Fortunately, our miraculous Iron Dome missile defense system has been able to shoot down a number of the missiles fired indiscriminately at innocent Israeli citizens. But many have struck, with devastating consequences.

It is staggering to think that Israelis not only have to endure terror raining down from the sky – they have to fear it coming out of the ground as well. Operation Protective Edge has shown the world a shocking fact that Israel knew already: Hamas has an extensive network of terror tunnels that exist for no other purpose than to infiltrate Israel and kill or abduct Israeli citizens. The concrete-lined structures are stocked with materials, such as handcuffs and tranquilizers, for use on Israeli hostages. Some of the tunnels reach miles into Israel, going under private homes, exiting in or near kibbutzim, or in farmer’s fields.

Imagine living in one of the communities in southern Israel and fearing that every time your child goes out to play, every time you sit in your backyard enjoying an afternoon with friends, every time you hear a sound outside your house at night, it could be a group of masked and armed men who mean to kill or kidnap you or your loved ones. How is it possible to live day-to-day in this climate of fear and trauma? Hamas’ intention to carry out a large-scale slaughter of Jews became crystal clear with news about an attack being planned for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The terrorist group planned to use its tunnels to infiltrate Israel to massacre thousands of civilians and hold entire communities hostage.

It is a bitter irony that these tunnels were made with Israeli materials that Israel sent into Gaza for humanitarian purposes, to help Palestinians build up their greatly underdeveloped infrastructure. But instead of using the concrete from Israel for the purpose of building schools, hospitals, or housing for the Palestinian people – many of whom live in dire poverty – Hamas chose the path of hate, using it to build tunnels to inflict death and terror upon Israelis. The IDF estimates that the cost of building one terror tunnel equals the cost of 350 truckloads of building material – material that could have been used to build 86 homes, six schools, and seven medical clinics. Even more shocking: in some cases, Hamas used Palestinian children to help build the tunnels. By one estimate, 160 children died during their construction. Clearly, it is Palestinian leadership, not Israel, that is the great enemy of the Palestinian people.

Nonetheless, I am proud to say that Christians and Jews have joined together with The Fellowship to feed the hungry and help Israel’s most vulnerable people, including the elderly and children. You have the gratitude of all of Israel as we confront the many challenges we will undoubtedly face in the coming weeks and months; and I am confident that, as the Bible says, God will bless these generous people who have blessed his children, Israel.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
President and Founder, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews® of Canada

 

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