'Finally We Could Breathe:' Israeli Evacuees Grateful for Jewish, Christian Help Getting to Safety


JERUSALEM, Israel – Jewish and Christian groups are joining forces to help Israelis escape the fighting and rockets near Gaza.

Both adults and children evacuated from southern Israel enjoyed an opportunity to have fun in a peaceful environment at a special event organized in Jerusalem.  

David Nekrutman of Isaiah Projects told CBN News, “We evacuated nearly 50 families from a community that was near the Gaza border because of missile attacks from Gaza into the israeli communities on the southern border. We felt it was our responsibility of pooling resources between Jews and Christians, together. So, we have a whole bunch of ministries working together to make this happen here in Jerusalem.”

 

Two moms, Ortal Hadad and Ella Tovim-Gedasi, described how they were going about their activities at their homes in the farming community of Mash’en near Ashkelon when Hamas attacked.

“We hear the rockets, unstoppable rockets, for the first time because we don’t have a shelter,” Hadad recounted. “We cover our kids. Me and my husband on the ground, and say all the time, Tehilim (Psalms), from Tehilim. Yes, all the time. We (were) so scared. You know, I couldn’t breathe. I felt that I can’t breathe for the first time.”

“It was awful week for us in Mash’en,” Tovim-Gedasi explained. “Most of the time we spend at the shelters, and it was forbidden to go out. We felt unsecure. We felt unprotected. As a parents, we felt like we cannot protect our children – a terrorist will come, I have nothing that I can do.”

Nekrutman believes one goal is to restore a sense of security to the families.  

“We said we’re going to adopt a community out with my friends. And after 23 years of working with different organizations involved in Jewish-Christian relations over the years, everyone came together saying, we’re standing behind you,” Nekrutman said.

NIne days after the beginning of the war, Nekrutman and representatives from other ministries helped evacuate residents of Moshav Mash’en to Jerusalem,   

“We evacuated nearly 50 families from a community that was near the Gaza border because of missile attacks from Gaza into the Israeli communities on the southern border. We felt it was our responsibility of pooling resources between Jews and Christians together. So we have a whole bunch of ministries working together to make this happen here in Jerusalem.

Among those ministries and individuals are: David Nekrutman -The Isaiah Projects; Jonathan Feldstein – Genesis 123 Foundation; Jeffrey Mark and Robbie Coleman – Zion’s Bridge; Connie Bachman – Zion’s Gate International; Ilse Strauss – Bridges For Peace; and Sam Philipe, representing Curt Landry Ministries.

The evacuation was a major relief for Ortal Hadad and the others. “Finally, (on) this Sunday, we could breathe for the first time because we didn’t hear the rockets, we didn’t hear the missiles and we were very, very calm to be here,” she said. “So we feel safe, you know, for the first time. We can breathe, finally, and our baby don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night, crying, (and we don’t know what to do. So Baruch HaShem (Bless His Name), Baruch HaShem!”  

Both Hadad and Gedasi expressed their gratitude for the rescue.   

“We want to thank the Christians who gave us the donation, which is incredible for me, that they care about us,” Hadad related.

Gedasi commented, “I was surprised to hear that it’s people not from Israel (who gave). It’s American and Christian Americans. (It) made me think that when you truly care about someone, when you truly love someone, you (don’t) care what his religion is (or) where does he live.”   

As a teenager, Hadad had to evacuate her home almost 20 years ago when Israel uprooted some 9,000 Israelis from communities in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank as part of the 2005 disengagement.     

While Israeli and Palestinian leaders described that as a move toward peace, it instead led to Hamas winning control of the region, followed by incessant fighting, and now, war.  

“This situation, It’s because we left our home – because we gave our land (God’s) land to the Hamas,” Hadad insisted..”Okay. And I want to go back home. I want to feel safe. You know, in Gush Katif (where she lived 20 years ago), I felt safe. Safe! Now, I don’t feel safe.”   

Nekrutman says that while much of the world has condemned Israel and protesters chant, “Free Palestine,” he believes that means being free of Hamas, and he urged Christians to pray.    

He added, “I would say to our Christian brothers and sisters out there, if you’re praying, pray for our enemies to turn their hearts to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and see the light, and actually make real peace.”  

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