Evangelical ministry donates bomb shelters to Israeli communities near Gaza border

Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system (L) intercepts rockets (R) fired by the Hamas movement from Gaza city towards Israel early on May 16, 2021.
Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system (L) intercepts rockets (R) fired by the Hamas movement from Gaza city towards Israel early on May 16, 2021. | AFP via Getty Images/MOHAMMED ABED

As hostilities between Israel and armed groups in the Gaza Strip continue, the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem has donated nine portable bomb shelters to protect communities near the Gaza border.

“Christians around the world want to do something positive to help Israel now,” ICEJ Vice President David Parsons told The Jerusalem Post. “They are praying and standing up for Israel in their own countries, but feel this is something that they can do to really make a contribution to security and peace in Israel.”

The shelters seek to ensure fewer casualties, said Parsons, whose ministry was founded in 1980 to represent churches, denominations and Christians worldwide “who share a love and concern for Israel and who seek to repair the historic breach between the Church and the Jewish people.”

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The shelters will likely be delivered in the next few days, according to the Sunday report. Another six shelters had been ordered and would soon be sent to communities located near the Lebanon border.

Hamas militants started launching rocket attacks on Israel last Monday as tensions brewed over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem.

Israeli police clashed with Palestinians near the city’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.

Gaza’s health ministry reported that since last Monday, at least 200 have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. Meanwhile, over 1,200 have been injured. 

According to Israeli officials, Hamas and other militant groups have launched over 2,900 rockets into Israel, which resulted in 10 people dying and hundreds injured. Rockets have reached as far as the outskirts of Jerusalem, Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv and its suburbs, according to the United Nations. 

Despite Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, 450 rockets reportedly fell in built-up areas and many others landed short inside Gaza, which led to Palestinian casualties.

At least 42 Palestinians, including a 1-year-old baby and a 3-year-old toddler, were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City early Sunday, according to a report by The Times of Israel.

Dozens remained trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings in Gaza City’s upscale al-Rimal neighborhood, the Palestinian Civil Defense organization was quoted as saying. 

“We’re hearing screams under the rubble,” a member of the Civil Defense told Al-Jazeera.

“Many homes, community buildings and other public places do not have bomb shelters nearby, and area residents only have 10-20 seconds to find shelter when the red alert sounds of incoming rockets,” ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler wrote in a blog post on his ministry’s website.

“My family and I found ourselves in our own shelter this week. From the shelter, we could hear the explosions of the four Hamas rockets falling close by our community just outside Jerusalem. So we know the frightful sounds of rocket explosions, and we also know these shelters literally save lives!” he added.

The Israel Defense Forces have indicated Jerusalem may soon accept a ceasefire offer since it has achieved its goals in this round of fighting against the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, The Times of Israel reported.

ICEJ says it has been donating portable shelters to communities at risk since 2008. With the support of Christians worldwide, 118 shelters have been donated to southern Israeli communities.

ICEJ partners with Operation Lifeshield to ensure the shelters are built to Israel Defense Forces standards.

­Operation Lifeshield is an emergency campaign to save innocent lives by providing Israel's threatened communities with the protected air raid shelters.

On Saturday, President Joe Biden spoke with Israel President Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to urge de-escalation. 

Biden also reaffirmed his support for Israel’s right to defend itself while expressing concern about the deaths of civilians and the safety of journalists.

Last Wednesday, 40 U.S. senators, led by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., signed a letter calling on Biden to support Israel’s right to retaliate and end sanction relief with Iran, which backs Hamas. Hamas is designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization. 

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