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Close Call

written by Asher Intrater
December 01, 2003

A shudder went through the soul of Israel last night. It should have caused a shudder to everyone in the world. Perhaps this story will give you a sense of why we ask you to pray for Israel, and for its security against terror attacks.

“Ort Alon” is a public high school, with over 700 students plus staff and workers, located in the northern central Israeli town of Yokneam, just a few kilometers from the famous valley of “Armaggedon.”

One of the most vicious terrorist groups in Israel is “Islamic Jihad,” with its local stronghold in the refugee camp within the city of Jenin. However, the top directors operate from their headquarters, undisturbed, in a suburb of Damascus in Syria. It is from that headquarters that the decisions are made and the money is provided for those attacks to take place.

Over the past few weeks, Israeli intelligence forces became aware of renewed pressure from the Damascus leadership of Jihad on its Jenin cell leaders to attempt a mega-terror attack in Israel. The concept of a mega attack is not just in the “quantity” of the number of people killed, but in the “quality” of the horror of the attack. A suicide bomber exploding himself in the midst of a crowded group of Israeli school children would fit that description perfectly.

“Ort Alon” was picked as the target because one of the two terrorists, Morad Zeitoun, age 20, used to work in the school and knew the place well. He planned to lead Munir Rabiah, age 23, who had the belt with 22 pounds of explosives, into the school when a concentration of students would be gathered in the courtyard.

On Tuesday, Israeli security forces swept into Jenin and arrested 29 workers of the Islamic Jihad. Through interrogation they became aware that an attack was planned, but did not know the specifics. On Wednesday, widespread roadblocks and searches were set up. Through an intelligence tip, the terrorists were thought to be seeking refuge in the town of Bardaleh.

The two terrorists entered into the mosque there and sought to hide themselves among those praying inside. Israel security forces surrounded the mosque and announced that everyone inside should leave. The terrorists were caught while seeking to escape. Special forces units located the bomb belt inside the mosque. They brought in an electronic robot to remove the bomb from the mosque and had it exploded in a controlled explosion in a nearby field.

Another reason the terrorists chose the Yokneam area as the target was that it is one of the few areas where the security fence has not yet been erected. This event gives some insight as to why Israel runs security operations inside such places as Jenin, why they set up roadblocks and closures, and why the government sees a need for the security fence to be completed.

It also demonstrates why Israel sees Syria’s patronage of terrorist groups as a threat to world peace. Had this terrorist attack succeeded, God forbid, the Israeli response would probably have included an air strike on Damascus, which in turn would have caused a drastic escalation of violence throughout the area.

Israel security forces report that they currently have 42 warnings of planned terrorist attacks within Israel. It is only by the grace of God, your prayers, and the vigilance of Israeli soldiers, police and intelligence units that greater terrorist disasters are restrained.

Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.

He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.

Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.

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