Editors note: This is a series of eyewitness reports from Executive Editor Richard Land during his week-long tour of Israeli towns under siege by Hamas rockets, sponsored by Israeli officials seeking to bolster support from American evangelicals during the latest Hamas conflict. Dr. Land is part of a National Religious Broadcasters group contacted by the Israeli Office of Tourism.
Our last day in Israel was both inspiring and eventful. We went to the Upper Room and had lunch in the Central City Market, and did some taping for CBN and the Trinity Broadcasting Networks, both of which have studios that have a spectacular view of Jerusalem. We then traveled to Tel Aviv and received an "off the record" briefing on the development of the Iron-Dome technology which has allowed the Israelis to shoot down over 90% of the more than 1200 rockets that have been fired at them by Hamas in the last six weeks.
Some truly interesting things emerged, on background, from the briefing. First, when the Israelis initially presented the technological concept for Iron-Dome, the US government's scientific advisors said that it would never work and thus denied any funding. So the Israelis did it themselves. It obviously works. Second, after it was demonstrated that it worked, the US government did help fund it to the tune of over a billion dollars with the only condition being that at least half of the production be done in the U.S. Third, the Iron-Dome has become so popular because of its success that the Israelis have had enough orders placed for the technology that it will more than defray the start up costs. Iron-Dome has clearly saved hundreds of Israeli citizens' lives.
Once again, I must comment on the grit and perseverance of the Israeli population. While most of Israel is safe, the settlements in the south are under constant threat of attack. One of the most popular apps in Israel is called the "Red Alert" app, which goes off on your smart phone whenever a missile is launched from Gaza. The app tells you that a missile has been launched and supposedly where it is heading. And yet when the Israelis hear the air raid sirens, they go into their shelters, come out after the all clear, and go back to their workaday activities.
Watching the Israelis I was reminded of stories that my English friends told me when I lived in Oxford in the early 70s. When I asked them about WWII, the older ones responded with an attitude that could best be described as "keep calm and carry on." After the bombings or the rocket attacks, the British would come out of the shelters, clear away the rubble and carry on. I was told that as the threat from Hamas rockets was increasing, the Israelis were trying to put up an Iron-Dome battery to protect Tel Aviv. They were told it needed to be ready within 72 hours if possible. Some said it couldn't be done. The Israeli technicians went to work around the clock with no sleep and 51 hours later the Iron-Dome was ready. Within hours, Hamas launched a rocket attack, and all were shot down by the Iron-Dome battery. Scores of Israeli civilians' lives were thus saved.
When I heard that story, it reminded me of my father's experience as a U.S. Navy "ship-fitter" (welder) in WWII. When the U.S.S. Yorktown limped into Pearl Harbor with severe battle damage in mid-1942, it was estimated that it would take weeks before the Yorktown was seaworthy once again. Admiral Nimitz, acting on information obtained by breaking the Japanese naval code, ordered all the Navy welders to work around the clock and get the Yorktown back to sea in 48 hours. My father and other welders worked without sleep for up to 48 hours welding and repairing the Yorktown, and some of them continued repairs after the Yorktown went back to sea as part of a task force sent to intercept the Japanese fleet at Midway. It was the planes from the Yorktown, not the other U.S. carriers, that sank four Japanese carriers at Midway, thus turning the tide of the Pacific war. The Japanese were never on the offensive again until the war ended.
The Israelis still possess the kind of fortitude and perseverance that the British and Americans displayed during WWII. I sometimes wonder if we still do. I hope and pray that those traits are still a dominant part of the American character.
Please join me in praying for the peace of Jerusalem.