Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chapter Nineteen


Ramat David Airbase
Tuesday, November 17
8:00 p.m.

Moshe ran his hand along the smooth, light blue surface of the two thousand pound, high explosive bomb hanging beneath the fuselage of his F-16. Situated between four AGM Maverick missiles and an assortment of air-to-air weaponry, this bad boy would really get the enemy’s attention. Of course, that attention would be short lived.
The night’s mission called for multiple sorties, beginning with bombing raids focused on Hezbollah enclaves in southern Lebanon. The border was about to become a cauldron. Lebanese army installations would also suffer IDF fury because of the recent partnership made with the terrorists. Israel intended to remove the combined threat as its first order of business.
Simultaneous attacks would also be levied against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The quantity of arms that had been funneled into that part of Palestine was nothing short of alarming. The time had come to deal with it, and that dealing would be severe. But the two initial attacks must appear limited during the first few hours. It had to look like a response to a jihadist threat, nothing more. Keeping the surrounding nations in the dark as long as possible was the key.
Although the attacks against the Hezbollah and Hamas would eventually become full scale in scope, the purpose of the first few hours was to create a diversion. Positioned and ready to move eastward from the Golan Heights was the 1st Golani Brigade, formed by the 12th Barak and 13th Gideon tank battalions. Fully equipped with newly upgraded Merkava IV Main Battle Tanks, the Golani Brigade would make quick work of the remnants of the Syrian Army. Opening the way to complete a blocking maneuver against the oncoming Iranian Revolutionary Guards was the first goal. Once that was complete a concentrated push into both Lebanon and Syria would be performed.
Moshe’s part in the operation would lead him into the skies over Lebanon rather than Gaza, and that brought him some relief. If this had been two weeks earlier, he would have experienced no guilt whatsoever in blowing Palestinians directly to Allah. But now, knowing that Hamas fighters would be hiding behind a thick shield of civilians, many of whom secretly claimed Yeshua as Lord, gave him nothing but anguish. A people group he once hated now included many of like precious faith. He wanted no part in what would surely be seen as mass extermination of innocents.
As he continued the inspection of his aircraft his thoughts returned to Tasha and his new friends in Husifa. Until the current lockdown at the base expired he had arranged for Tasha and Ingrid to become roommates. While he was off fighting, Tasha would be helping Pastor Ty and Blake as they became oriented to life in Israel. Moshe realized how much they had to learn after he’d demonstrated something that every Israeli lived with—gas masks. As he witnessed their eyes grow wide in their new reality, part of him became envious. Americans were na├»ve. They had no idea what it meant to live in a terrorized world, at least until recently. He had to remind himself that Ty and Blake had tasted a bit of that same horror back in Kansas City. In that sense they were veterans.
Moshe knew there was much for them all to do in and around Haifa. Staying busy would be a necessary diversion, especially for Ingrid and Tasha. In fact, the refugee situation would become more dramatic over the next few days. He would be adding to the problem by simply doing his job. The thought left him on the edge of melancholy. His only reprieve was in a firm belief held by Ty. Israel would be kept safe through everything that was about to take place. Moshe had feared the loss of his wife several times over the course of the last three weeks. He’d rather not experience it again.
Rueben Cohen was completing the visual inspection of his aircraft as Moshe began climbing the ladder attached to the side of his Lightning. Rueben was all gung-ho. He was no longer a rookie, but neither was he aged enough to understand his life could be snuffed out at any moment. Perhaps it was best that the kid felt invincible. The odds were stacking up against the IDF like never before. Moshe wished he had a bit more truth under his belt so he could feel confident in sharing Yeshua with his wingman. His lack of knowledge was his own fault for holding his wife’s faith at arm’s length for the past two years. His stubbornness had brought about an incredible waste of time.
If I’d only listened earlier! Moshe chastised himself. He looked toward Rueben again and silently prayed for more opportunities to share what he’d found.
“Ready to drop some fire down on some Hezbollah turbans, Captain?” Rueben called out over the din of spooling engines around the tarmac.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near one of their rat holes tonight,” Moshe shot back. “Just keep your tail clear of any stingers, got it?”
“Roger,” Rueben saluted. “I’ll try to keep your tail covered too.”
“Yeah, you do that,” Moshe shook his head with enough animation that Rueben wouldn’t see the anxiety he was feeling.
With the help of his ground crew Moshe strapped himself into the cockpit and ran through his pre-flight checklist. Everything was in order. The last step was to ignite the large General Electric engine and prepare for the launching of the squadron.
While waiting he slipped into a prayer asking God to protect his wife and friends. He then astonished himself by asking a favor of the Lord. If it were answered it would be classified as a miracle. “God, I’m asking that not a single airman be lost during the course of this night. Make people think of you as a result.” And then he prayed for the many civilians who would soon lose their lives.
Unbeknownst to Moshe, the same prayer was being offered by his wife and friends in Husifa,

North Central Lebanon
Tuesday, November 17
8:30 p.m.

The command trailer had become a beehive of activity as intelligence personnel attempted to ascertain what was happening to the south. Israel had been sending her fighters over Hezbollah positions for several days, but there was a new intensity in the current attacks. General Telnikov entered and stood in the back corner of the room. His presence was immediately sensed by the entire team.
“Status if you please, Lieutenant,” Telnikov ordered.
“Sir, we are receiving radar telemetry that suggests the Israelis are attacking every known Hezbollah position along the border. They have done this every evening at about this time, but tonight there is something different.”
“And that would be…?”
“Numbers. In the last fifteen minutes we have seen more than sixty attack aircraft cross into Lebanon. They have come in three different waves. Every airbase in northern Israel is launching, and there is no decrease in activity. Both heavy ordinance and air-to-ground missiles are being utilized.”
Telnikov had come to trust not only the accuracy of the lieutenant’s reports, but also the young man’s ability to interpret the data and project the next move by the opposition. Few men had the courage to speculate these days. This officer was different.
“What are we looking at?”
The lieutenant inadvertently reached up and scratched the back of his head as he prepared to answer. The struggle had nothing to do with the fact he was advising the commanding general. Telnikov know the lieutenant simply wanted to get it right. Therefore the general refrained from rushing the issue.
“Sir, only fifteen minutes have gone by in this attack,” the lieutenant answered. The way his forehead wrinkled spoke louder than words. “Based on every other night I would say the activity would last for another five or ten minutes.” He paused.
“But…?” Telnikov spurred him on.
“But the numbers don’t add up. Something bigger is taking place.”
“I would say that if we see Israeli artillery join in with a coordinated aerial attack then we are probably seeing the beginning of an IDF push into Lebanon or Syria. This air assault is probably a diversionary tactic.”
Telnikov mulled the situation for a moment. Though the Russian 7th Airborne Division was still positioning itself in northern Lebanon, no abjectly aggressive action had been demonstrated to the Israelis. All Russian operations thus far had been directed against enclaves of terrorists in the immediate area. Certainly Israel would not be pushing for a confrontation with his forces this early in the game. Nor would they be using any such tactic if their intentions were to push southward into the Negev to face the Sudanese. For one, the Sudanese were still attempting to move the bulk of their forces into the Gulf of Aqaba. Add to that the fact that Sudan had an untrained, undisciplined army and one could scratch them off the immediate threat list.
No, something else was driving the Jews. Then he remembered the Iranian fool Kazimi was now stretching his forces across the Iraqi/Syrian border and doing it with bravado. Israel might tolerate the presence of the coalition, but it evidently wanted no part in allowing a jihadist to situate himself right across the Jordan River. That would never be allowed. If this was a diversion, a surge through the Golan Heights was the logical next step.
Telnikov realized the lieutenant had ceased what he was saying and had his eyes locked on the general. The two men had arrived at the same conclusion.
“What are your orders, General? Moscow must be informed.”
Telnikov had no desire to begin a communicative chain reaction that would result in an alert being sent to the Iranians. It would be best to keep his deductions to himself, at least for the present. “Alert Moscow to the activity on the border and report nothing unusual beyond an increase in aerial forces,” ordered the general, “but I want to know the moment any movement of Israeli armor is detected.”
“Da, General.”
Telnikov turned and headed back to his quarters for further thought.

Husifa, Israel
Tuesday, 9:00 p.m.

The siren had been sounding for less than a minute when its wail was drowned by a huge explosion. By the rattling of the windows, a rocket had ended its course less than a block away.
Because Ty and Blake had been warned by Moshe of the impending IDF attack, they were aware of the possibility of a response. They just weren’t expecting a rocket to impact near the upper reaches of Mount Carmel.
Ty quickly donned a jacket and headed for the apartment door. The sound of other tenants moving through the halls only added to his haste. He instinctively reached for Blake’s hand.
“Time to head for the shelter, babe.”
Blake grabbed her jacket and shoulder bag, and the two joined half a dozen people descending the stairwell to the street.
Just then they were knocked to the floor. Another rocket had shaken the entire building. Bits of plaster broke from the ceiling and fell. Screams were heard from somewhere outside the building.
Ty pushed himself into a sitting position and took mental inventory of his body. He still had all his parts, and his hand was gripping Blake’s, though he couldn’t see her. The lights in the building had been shattered by the vibrations of the blast. He sighed with relief as he felt her movements and realized she was unharmed.
Someone on the ground floor opened the exit allowing light from the streets to illuminate the stairwell. As if on cue, the entire group stood and began moving again.
Outside the screaming became pronounced. Ty saw a young woman bent over a small child across the street. Without thinking he moved toward them and saw that a little girl was hurt and bleeding badly from a head wound. She was unconscious.
Ty knelt beside the child and put a finger on her neck to feel for a pulse. She was alive, but unless something was done to stop the flow of blood, she would soon be dead. Blake eased up to the woman and put her arm around her shoulder.
“We’ve got to stop this bleeding,” he said to Blake. “See if you can get the mother to move back a bit.”
The mother understood and sat back, giving Ty room to work. He removed his jacket and then the t-shirt he’d been wearing. Pulling at the collar, he ripped the shirt into two pieces. With the first he gently dabbed away the blood over the worst part of the injury above her hairline. A significant flap of skin was out of place exposing the child’s skull. The mother saw it and let out an anguished shriek.
Ty carefully removed a piece of concrete from the matted hair, unfolded the skin, and smoothed it back into place. He then wrapped the second section of t-shirt around the girl’s head and knotted it to the side. The flow of blood slowed considerably.
He turned to the mother. “When need to get medical help. Is there a hospital close by?”
She pointed toward the end of the block. “Medic!”
“Come on,” said Ty. He scooped the little girl into his arms. She could not have been more than six or seven year old. The mother, holding closely to Blake, led the way down the street and around the corner.
People were running everywhere, but Ty was surprised at the lack of panic exhibited by the Israelis. That stood to reason as this had been their normal way of life since Israel’s inception. It had always had an enemy or two.
The woman continued down the street until they came to a storefront. Three armed Israeli soldiers were standing outside. A young medic stepped from the doorway when he saw Ty with the child and urged them to enter. Several people were inside being attended to by medics.
Ty noticed that all the injuries seemed to be minor in nature, probably the result of bits of rubble flying through the air, or from a fall on the way to the shelters. The little girl had by far the worst of the lot. The medic gently took the child from his arms, and the mother began explaining in Hebrew what had happened. Before they could protest, Ty and Blake were escorted from the room and onto the street.
Another explosion nearby sent them scurrying back the way they’d come. It was time to find that bomb shelter.

Jimmy Root Jr
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