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Tuesday
Nov272018

ONCE AGAIN, MIRACLES AND WONDERS IN THE SOUTH OF ERETZ YISRAEL

Over 400 rockets and mortars were fired at Israeli citizens over a period of two days. Now too, people have seen open miracles that occurred in Ashkelon and other places.

Chabad reaching out in the south (photo by Chaim Tuito)

THE BIG BUS MIRACLE

It all began on Sunday, 3 Kislev/Nov 11, when a secret military maneuver deep in the Gaza Strip went awry. A squad of soldiers from an elite unit entered about three kilometers past the Gaza border for the purpose of carrying out a top-secret assignment. Unfortunately, the soldiers, who were camouflaged, aroused suspicion and terrorists began pursuing them.

The soldiers escaped in a vehicle heading toward the border with Israel while airborne assistance was scrambled to help them from above. In the ensuing firefight, an IDF officer was killed and another wounded. The terrorists sustained several losses including a senior figure.

The security situation deteriorated from there, though it has actually been in a terrible state for a long time considering the ongoing demonstrations at the fence and the sending over of incendiary kites.

Monday afternoon, terrorists began shooting hundreds of rockets and mortars at the nearby settlements, often described as otef Aza or the Gaza Envelope. The residents were forced into their protected rooms and shelters time and again. The terrorists expanded their activities by unleashing a massive barrage at Ashkelon and its environs. Dozens of mortars were sent their way. The Iron Dome spotted many of the launches and those it identified as potential threats were shot down.

Despite this, the Iron Dome is not infallible and some missiles fell on Ashkelon and around it. Each of these rockets has the ability to wreak great destruction and kill many but, thank G-d, the residents of Ashkelon witnessed numerous miracles.

The biggest miracle occurred on a bus that arrived in the area, bringing about fifty soldiers. It was in the afternoon when the bus arrived at one of the yishuvim in the Shaar HaNegev region. The bus driver let the soldiers off at a point near the border and continued driving a bit, with the intent of getting out of the area. A minute or two after the soldiers got off, the terrorists launched an anti-tank missile which directly hit the bus. Within seconds, the bus went up in flames. The missile hitting the bus was the opening salvo of another barrage aimed at Eretz Yisroel.

A soldier who remained near the bus was critically wounded. It seems the terrorists did not see the soldiers disembarking from the bus and wanted to hit them, all of them.

The bus driver, an Arab who is a resident of the nearby Bedouin village of Hura, said emotionally, “G-d loves you!” He described the events: he let off dozens of soldiers and then made a “U-turn” in order to leave the area. “If it would have happened a minute earlier …”

MIRACLES IN ASHKELON

Another great miracle transpired in Ashkelon proper, Monday night.  During the night, many alarms were sounded, and volleys of rockets and mortars were fired off towards the city.  A number of rockets scored direct hits on homes and businesses in Ashkelon, Sderot, and on a preschool in one of the area’s yishuvim.

One of those rockets was a direct hit on an apartment building in Ashkelon.  All of the residents in the building escaped miraculously without any injuries, even as firefighters battled the blaze that broke out as a result.

Mrs. Ruthi Mozgorashvilli, whose home was hit, recounts how she had just set up her secure room moments before the missile hit:

I was sitting in the living room, and as soon as the alarm sounded, I went into the protected room.  It took only a second or two.  Even before I managed to fully enter the room, the rocket had already hit!  When I went back out to the living room, I saw darkness, everything was sand and stones.  I actually saw the roof falling in!  I ran out and began to scream.  It all happened in seconds!

According to her account, her daughter had called her twenty minutes earlier and asked her to go into the protected area:

“There was complete darkness, due to the electricity being cut off.  I heard such a loud boom that was unforgettable, to the point that I thought that when I went outside I would see that the whole secure area was gone.  I heard people screaming to me, ‘Get outside, get outside.’  It is so difficult [to describe], to the extent that it is possible. Afterward, I realized that my home was completely destroyed.”

Another building in Ashkelon that took a direct hit, underwent a search by security forces and a full evacuation of all of the residents who were miraculously saved from injury, save for one woman who was seriously injured.  About an hour after the rescue teams left the site, a photographer showed up and suddenly noticed some movement among the fallen debris.  He immediately alerted the rescue forces, and they quickly extracted two people from the mountain of debris, a man and a woman. The woman was severely injured, while the man turned out to be dead.  It was later discovered that the man was Mahmoud ibn Esbah, an Arab from the West Bank city of Chalchul north of Chevron, who worked in construction inside Eretz Yisroel and resided there illegally.

A journalist who came to see and report on the building could not believe how after such a direct and accurate hit, the overwhelming majority of the residents came out unharmed. “The apartment building is completely destroyed.  Most of the walls of the house, including the outer walls, are completely gone.  This is what an apartment that took a direct hit from a rocket looks like.  The scale of destruction is terrifying.”

The rockets continued to fall, and the great miracles followed them.  Four hundred explosive projectiles in a day and a half, and there were two critically injured and one killed – an Arab illegal resident.

Additionally, one missile hit a gas line.  Normally, this would mean tremendous destruction, but it only led to the outbreak of a relatively small fire that the firefighters quickly got under control.

After a less than quiet night, and six hits in the city of Ashkelon, the shluchim of the Rebbe in the city held a meeting on Tuesday morning to assess the situation and plan their activities for these highly fraught days.  The Chabad Houses spread around the neighborhoods of the city went into action in order to strengthen the spirits of the city residents.  It was decided that all Torah classes and regular activities would continue as normal, and even more so, with the stated goal being to spread light and extend material and spiritual assistance to all of the residents of the city.

CHAOS IN SDEROT

Between the blasts of the IDF bombing raids and the intercepts of the Iron Dome, shliach in Sderot, R’ Moshe Zev Pizem shared some of his feelings of the day of battle in his city:

“Following the failed mission of the soldiers on Monday, the Home Front Command issued guidance that all schools would be closed, including daycare centers.

“Throughout the day, it was very quiet. As evening approached, the people could not understand why they had to turn their lives upside down on that day.  Parents could not go out to work, and the children were at home without any structured activity because of the sudden order.

“At about 4:40 pm, I was in middle of chazaras ha’shatz of mincha, when suddenly the ‘red alert’ alarms began to blare and within an instant we heard tremendous booms from the steady firing of the Iron Dome batteries.  I was very proud of the congregants who did not run out in the middle and remained until the end of the services.  Between Mincha and Maariv we did not hold our regular class, as people could not be expected to ignore what was happening, and everyone was calling their wives, kids and parents.  Each person felt the need to make contact and make sure that everyone was okay.

“We stood outside the Chabad House and could see fires from a number of different directions. It turns out that there were hits in some central locations in the city.”

It was midnight of Monday night, and R’ Pizem said that the big fire was still burning.  It was from a gas storage facility close to stores and a bakery in the city center.

We asked him about the picture of him holding a piece of an Iron Dome intercept rocket:

“One of the rockets was blown up in the air very close to the Chabad House.  I saw debris and fire falling from the sky into the yard of one of the neighbors, a Jew who is alone in the world. I ran over to him to make sure that everything was okay, and we found the piece of the intercept missile that fell into the yard.  Boruch Hashem, that was the end of it.

“At this very moment, there are warning signals throughout the ‘envelope’ area, and in Sderot there are occasional launches of the Iron Dome, tremendous booms from the IAF bombing raids and bomb explosions.  That is the atmosphere at night for us.

“It is a pity on the little children and on the lonely people alone at home in terror and uncertainty.  What else is in store for us?  Hashem will help.  As of now, there is no school tomorrow, Tuesday.  Many planned events and activities are currently under a big question mark,” he concludes.

Another miracle that took place in the south, was at the Religious Council of Netivot.  One of the rockets scored a direct hit on the building of the council.  Oded Pluss, a lawyer who is the Director of the Office of Religious Services, reported to Moshe Zerihan that there were no injuries, despite the extensive damage to the building.

COWARDLY POLICIES CONTINUED

Another miracle occurred at three in the afternoon on Tuesday, when a rocket scored a direct hit on a secure room in a residential building on a yishuv in the Ashkelon Coastal region.  Emergency forces were mobilized to the scene, and once again discovered a case where everybody present escaped bodily harm.

Earlier in the day, a rocket was located that had landed in the yard of a preschool in a yishuv in the Eshkol region, but did not explode.  The fallen rocket was discovered by a teacher who, by divine providence, happened to go out to the yard before the children went outside.  She immediately evacuated the children from the area and reported to the security liaison of the yishuv.  It’s hard to even think about what might have happened if it had exploded.

On Tuesday morning, the Home Front Command released an advisory about the easing of protective measures in the Gaza Envelope area, regarding returning to work and to normal school operations, which had been shut down on Monday. Shortly after the advisory was made public, alarm sirens were heard throughout the region and the residents were forced to return once again to their protected spaces.

Despite the massive barrage unleashed by the terrorists, and aside from the Arab fatality, from Monday to Tuesday morning, the Magen David Adom emergency health staff in the areas of Shaar HaNegev, Ashkelon and Sderot, reported attending to a total of 54 injured people, three of them in critical condition, including the soldier who was hit by shrapnel from the bus incident.  The rest included 23 lightly wounded from glass shards, blast injuries, smoke inhalation, or while running to safety, and 27 for a trauma, along with a man aged 48 (no details given).

Doctor Amit Frankel, a leading doctor in the General Emergency Care Unit of Soroka Hospital, issued a statement on Tuesday about the condition of the soldiers who were injured to that point. “There are currently two soldiers in the Emergency Care Unit, one of whom arrived in severe condition and was stabilized in the Trauma Center in the hospital, underwent a series of surgeries and his condition continues to improve and he is fully conscious.  The soldier who was injured in the bus incident is still in the unit and is under full sedation and is on a ventilator.  His condition is still considered critical, and he also underwent a number of surgeries. Everything is being done to help and improve his condition to the best possible.”

The IDF in its response hit over two hundred terror targets of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, including four Hamas government buildings that were being used for military purposes. Similarly, IDF naval batteries blasted a number of targeted vessels that serve as the sea power of Hamas.  Afterward, an IDF aerial weapon fired on a terrorist attempting to fire rockets from the north of the Gaza Strip.  A combat helicopter and an aerial weapon fired upon a number of suspects along the fence line, identified as trying to breach the fence from the north of the Gaza Strip into Israel proper.

It is painful to note that the weak policies of the Israeli government continue now as well, as based on government policy and the recommendations of the “security cabinet,” the soldiers of the IDF are instructed to avoid any terrorist casualties.  The broad array of bombing raids carried out by the IAF only inflicted symbolic casualties on the terrorists, such as bases and installations.  The Al-Aksa television station that was hit on Monday continued to broadcast from the wreckage.  Once again, the leadership is afraid to make any firm decisions, to finally put an end to all acts of aggression by the terrorists aimed at the citizens of Eretz Yisroel.

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