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Some thoughts after a week of war in Israel by Aaron Hecht

(IDF Chief of Staff Lt General Herzi Halevi addresses troops preparing to enter the Gaza Strip, IDF Spokespersons Office)

I am an Israeli, and my country is at war.


I arrived in Israel in the middle of what was already at that time being called the "Second Intifada" and in the 20 years and change since there have been several more wars, most of them involving the launching of rockets at Israeli cities. The big standout event, of course, was the 2006 Second Lebanon War in which Hezbollah launched thousands of rockets into the Galilee region. That was a watershed moment for me personally and for many other Israelis, but it was also merely the first and (until recently) biggest rocket war we'd suffer.

Since then there have been many more rounds of war involving rockets being fired into Israel and as I'm sure you know, last Saturday, 7 October 2023, we all got woken up by air raid sirens as we tried to sleep in on Saturday morning.

The following is a snapshot of my own experiences over the past 10 days of war, followed by some thoughts I have on all that's happened.

When the sirens bounced me out of sound sleep that morning, there were a few moments of understandable confusion in my mind, which my wife helpfully swept aside.

The apartment we live in is on the ground floor of our small building and the door to the bomb shelter is right next to my front door, so my wife picked up the dog and shouted instructions at me and our two sons in Russian. She knows I don't understand Russian, but as she later told me, she was guided in those initial moments by memories of the mandatory air raid drills she'd experienced growing up in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. For my part, in those initial confused moments, my mind flashed back to all the movies I'd watched about the blitz in London during WWII, which were helpful in sending orders to my body about how to react since the rest of my brain wasn't really functioning.

In any event, after a few moments we got ourselves, our dog, and our children into the entrance to the shelter as a few of the people who live in the upstairs apartments also came down, some in their pajamas and most without shoes.

This last detail was a bit of a problem because our shelter, and the stairway that leads down to it, hadn't been cleaned out in a very long time and the floor was covered in broken pieces of concrete that had fallen off the crumbling walls and roof over the years, as well as all kinds of other crud. I was glad I had managed to get my shoes on.

After a bit of time in the shelter, we heard the incoming rockets being intercepted and a few moments after that the sirens faded. Everyone who was in the stairway (no one had actually gone all the way down into the shelter) emerged into the early morning sunshine. One of my neighbors asked me if I'd heard the news, and I replied that I had not. He told me some of the details about the attack on the Gaza border communities (in those first hours not much was known, but it was obvious something terrible had happened) and I quickly realized that we'd be going back into the shelter again that day.

So I set about taking down the Sukkah on our porch and otherwise arranging it so that the next time the neighbors came down to go into the shelter, it'd be easier for them to get to the door. My wife went into the shelter and began sweeping some of the concrete dust and other junk off the floor. Less than an hour later, the next siren sounded and as the day wore on, several more sounded. Each time, more people came down from upstairs (at first several of our neighbors were skeptical of the sirens, thinking they might be a false alarm and some also didn't even know there was a shelter to run to).

Because the shelter had been neglected for so long, the electrical connections to all the lights down there were not functioning, so people started coming down with flashlights. But many of them had batteries which had died or were very weak. One of my upstairs neighbor who I've never spoken to much turned out to be a prepper and, like myself, he had lots of survival gear and equipment which he brought out and between the two of us we managed to get the building through that first day of the current war. Over the next several days I would make many trips to the camping and hardware stores, some with my neighbors and some by myself, and I am happy to say we are now much better prepared for a disaster than we were that first day.

But before that, later on Saturday evening, me and two much younger men took all the junk that people had been storing down in that bomb shelter to the dumpsters across the street. Some of it had obviously been down there for a very long time and it was moldy, rusty, etc. All of it should have been thrown out a long time ago, but better late than never.

I thought that was actually a pretty good metaphor for how Israelis need to throw out a lot of ideas they've had for a long time and get things straightened out, cleaned up, and squared away not only in their bomb shelters but in so many other areas of our lives. But I digress.

We got that shelter as clean and orderly as we could and over the next couple of days we spent at least NIS 2,000 buying canned food, bottled water, baby wipes, and other essentials to put down there so that in case we have to stay down there for an extended period, it'll be bearable. Not pleasant, but bearable.

I also spent a lot of time over the last week writing news reports and prayer letters for different organizations to which I contribute content. All the while, I was trying not to let my sons (who were home since schools had been closed) see how upset I was and finding productive things for them to do so they don't just sit around watching TV or playing on the phone all the time, and in general, trying to cope as best I can just like everyone else.

I'm actually grateful that so many people asked me to do things for them so I've been too busy to think about my own problems, which are considerable.

But slowly, the people in the building began to feel like they'd bought all the stuff they needed for now, and things have in general calmed down here in our little corner of Jerusalem. Starting yesterday, the school began doing distance learning, so my sons are a little bit more occupied and my wife is working from home and needs me to leave her to it. So now I'm sitting here at my computer and all the thoughts are coming to me at once so they can flow from my brain into my hands and I can type them all out to share with you.

What a blessing.

So, as far as my thoughts about all this, here are some of the highlights.

To start off, it sounds like a cliche to say "this changes everything" or "things will never be the same after this" but the fact is, in big ways and small, for better and for worse, there are some very big changes coming in Israel and in regards to Israel, both internally and internationally.

My academic studies were in Political Science and International Relations as well as Biblical Studies so whenever there's a big event I automatically spare a few moments to think about the political ramifications. I believe that when this war is over there will immediately be calls for new elections and for Benjamin Netanyahu to not run for them.

Bibi was visibly weakening, politically as well as in terms of his physical health, even before this crisis erupted. Now polls show that a solid majority of Israelis blame him, at least partially, for the fact that Israel was taken by surprise in this attack and that the attacks were so severe, and that it took the IDF so long to react to them. There are rumors and conspiracy theories swirling around the internet that this was "allowed" to happen in order to distract attention from the government crisis and although I usually have no time for conspiracy theories, even I have to admit that there are some VERY large question marks hanging over all this.

I think it's beyond question that the attack by Hamas was, at least in part, an effort to disrupt the seemingly imminent normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iran's obvious interest in this makes it likely that they were in the picture, but the fact that Hamas attacked by itself without coordinating with Hezbollah in Lebanon or other Iranian proxy groups in the region makes me wonder how much the Iranians were directly involved. On the other hand, I think it's possible that this is a trial run, meant to test Israel's ability to respond. If it went better than it did and/or if it had taken Israel longer to respond then Iran might have initiated a much larger attack by Hezbollah and armed groups it controls in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and possibly elsewhere.

Speaking of coordination, Hamas called for its supporters in Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem, mixed Arab-Jewish cities inside Israel and all over the world to riot on Friday in support of them. This didn't happen. There were a handful of Pro-Hamas demonstrations in big European and American cities, but they were much smaller and less violent than Hamas seems to have been hoping for. Here in Israel, Friday passed fairly quietly and there have even been scattered reports of Arab Israelis going out of their way to be helpful in this situation including by donating blood to hospitals and in other ways. There are quite a few Arab men and women who work in the stores in my neighborhood of Jerusalem and they've been continuing to show up for work, which by itself is a very helpful thing for them to do.

That's all to the good, and I hope it lasts.

The other big surprise this week has been the warm outpouring of support for Israel from Western governments, including countries like Sweden which usually aren't very supportive. The Western media has also been significantly less hostile than usual, but this will probably shift as Israel continues to strike back at Hamas, causing the inevitable suffering and death of Gazan civilians who aren't directly involved in the fighting.

Support for Israel among grassroots populations in many Western countries is not so easy to gauge. If you're like me, you've seen plenty of bizarre posts and comments on social media regarding this conflict. A significant number of them are almost certainly being posted by AI-powered bots, and not actual human beings. But enough of them ARE being posted by actual human beings to raise some very disturbing questions.


I believe the answer to that question is as simple as it is terrifying. The demonic powers of Hell, who know their time is short, aren't saving anything for later. They're breaking into the natural world to influence it however they can by spreading their lies, deceit, and confusion. As a result, there is a madness spreading in the world and it's at least comparable to the madness that gripped Germany in the 1930s and 40s. It's the spirit of deception breaking into the natural world, and it's everywhere.

This madness is manifesting itself in the ever-intensifying phenomenon best described by the term "post-truth world" in which people insist on believing things they know aren't true and militantly insist that others believe these lies as well. We see it in many areas, but nowhere is it more starkly on display than the lies people tell each other and themselves about Israel and the Jews. 

People who are perfectly capable of making rational, intelligent choices and distinctions in many areas of life are somehow incapable of doing so on any issue or question where the Jews are concerned. That means that even though the truth is on Israel's side, that doesn't help because people don't care what's true and what's not. 

They WANT to hate Israel and the Jews because Israel and the Jews remind them of a Book that describes a God that they don't want to be reminded of. They want to live their lives as if He isn't there and they hate being reminded of something that they all know on one level or another, that He created them and thus has authority to judge them. Someday, every single human being who ever walked the earth will stand before the Throne of God and give an account for their mortal lives in this physical realm. They desperately want to forget about all that, so they react with hatred towards the things that remind them of it.

That includes Israel and the Jews, but it also includes Gentile Christians. So wherever you're reading this, be aware that these people who hate Israel and the Jews hate you too, for the same reason. Today they're coming after us and soon they'll be coming after you. Count on it.

However, not everything is dark and gloomy, and there IS hope if one knows where to look for it.

It's another cliche to say that "the darker things get, the more the points of light shine out" but that's also true, and that's the good news I'll end this blog on.

The good news is that both the international Christian Zionist organizations that operate in Israel and the local Body of Messiah have stepped up in this situation in many different ways, organizing humanitarian assistance to the many who need it, rallying political and diplomatic support for Israel in capitals around the world, sharing pro-Israel content on social media, and of course praying for Israel.

This effort has sadly also included two (that I know of for sure) young people from our community who were killed in action while serving with their IDF units this week. I heard about at least three other possible casualties from Believer families but I didn't see that officially confirmed anywhere. However, it might have been the case and by the time you read this, there might have been more, because hundreds of Believers have been mobilized into the IDF including many who serve in frontline combat units.

These contributions are being noticed, and when this is over, there's reason to hope that the attitude of many Israelis towards both Gentile Christians and Jewish Believers will be much warmer than it previously was. It seems like a long time ago, but just a few weeks ago there were growing concerns about this, with international organizations having trouble getting visas for their staff, Christian tourists being hassled and harassed and local Believers being physically and rhetorically attacked.

Hopefully, the way our community has reacted to this emergency will lead to positive changes when all this is over. Even if that doesn't happen, it was the right thing to do and it was God's will for us to do these things, and you can never go wrong if you're in the Will of God.

So, my friends, those are some of the thoughts I have on this, the 10th day of Israel's latest war. I have some other thoughts, but this blog has already gone on long enough.

Keep praying for Israel, keep doing whatever work the Lord has called you to in your support of Israel and your own local community wherever you live, and remember the promise from Luke 21:25-28;

“There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting from fear and the expectation of the things that are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near.”

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