Friday, February 11, 2011

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen

Central Israel
The Fields of Nazir
Monday, November 16
4:00 p.m. Local Time

The runway looked smooth enough, though it seemed to undulate a bit in the distance. Ben didn’t know if his eyes were playing tricks or if the runway actually rose and fell. Whichever the case, he’d find out soon enough.
He was with the other trainees standing under the fat wing of a C-130 Hercules transport. They were all waiting for the sadistic captain in charge of the facility to begin the next element of their training. Everyone was dressed in military fatigues complete with a fully loaded combat pack on their backs. Each man carried a Tavor 21 Infantry Assault Rifle strapped over his right shoulder and hanging at his side. These were the latest version of multi-use weapons being used by the IDF. On the firing range Ben had already learned that the lightweight Tavor could pump out thirty-two 9mm rounds in about three seconds. The men had not yet been trained on utilizing the M203 Grenade Launcher mounted below the barrel, but that lesson would be coming soon.
Three menacing Humvee troop carriers were stowed in the large cargo hold of the C-130. Each vehicle carried a roof mounted MK19 40mm Grenade launching machine gun just aft of the driver’s cockpit. A Blackhawk gunship, with its large propellers fixed in a transportable position, was also aboard. A wheeled base had been attached to its skids so that a relatively easy offload could be achieved by as few as four men. The chopper was armed to the teeth.
Suddenly, the enormity of the mission began to crystallize for Ben and his companions. This was not some Indiana Jones adventure. This was serious.
“Listen up everyone,” shouted the captain. “The next stage of your training will feature your entrance and egress of the target zone. As you can see, these are the vehicles of delivery. By the end of this week you will be fully capable in every detail of the mission from the moment the wheels of this C-130 touch the ground until they lift off. We begin that training today.”
Ben listened as the Captain introduced the flight team for the Hercules. It consisted of a pilot, copilot, and a four-man operations crew. The latter held the responsibility of directing the commandos while in the air, as well as loading and offloading of the big Blackhawk helicopter.
Twenty minutes later the commando team had been divided and loaded within the cavities of the three Humvees. The entire mission team was airborne. The plan on this first run was simple: land the aircraft, off-load the Humvees while the plane was rolling out to a stop, and reach the far end of the runway as rapidly as possible. The exercise would be timed.
Ben sat in the crew compartment directly behind the driver, right under the feet of the top-mount gunner. He had no room in which to move, but at least he had a view out the narrow front windshield. As his Humvee was the first in line to exit, Ben would know the exact moment the ramp at the back of the aircraft began to lower. After that, his responsibilities consisted of nothing more than hanging on for the ride.
Ari Goins was the leader of the team, giving Ben an extra ounce of confidence. Everything he’d seen of Ari during these few days of training only served to increase his respect for the man and his abilities. Ari was in perfect physical condition, an expert marksman in every level of weaponry, an able hand-to-hand operator, and absolutely cool under pressure. Men naturally followed him. Ben reminded himself that when the real mission actually came to fruition, he needed to stay as close to Ari as possible. His life might depend on his proximity to the big man.
Just then, the interior lights of the Hercules went out. Five seconds later, bright sunlight flowed through the widening cracks around the big ramp as it began to lower. Ben could see the rolling hills of the Shephelah dancing in the distance as wind buffeted the aircraft. And then the tail of the transport sank towards the ground. The end of the dirt runway was visible as it passed beneath the plane.
In response, Ari turned the ignition and the Humvee’s huge engine roared to life.
Ben felt a jolt and knew that aircraft’s wheels had just touched the ground. The cargo hold leveled out and the ramp completed the process of lowering. The last thing Ben saw before Ari gunned the Humvee engine was a flashing green light just above the ramp’s housing. He had no choice but to lean back and hold on.
The first vehicle shot off the ramp and skidded across the runway. It was followed by the other two vehicles, but only one maintained enough control to stay on Ari’s tail for the length of the runway. Two minutes later the Humvee came to a stop, the back lid flew open and every commando inside exited in front of the captain. The stopwatch in his hand and the scowl on his face told a very clear story.
The entire maneuver was completed three more times, the last one in the dark of an Israeli night.

Paris, France
Same Time Local

“They are utilizing a C-130 transport aircraft. It is fully loaded with men and equipment,” a non-descript man spoke into a cell phone.
“How do you know it’s fully loaded?”
“Sir, I’ve heard hundreds of these planes. By the scream of the props, it is pulling a load. It has gone up, circled around the hills, and landed three times now. I can hear its engines spooling up in the distance as if it is going for another run.”
“And where is this base located,” Andre D’Tiene asked.
“About thirty kilometers southwest of Jerusalem. We are in the hills of Judea. There is not much out here beyond a few scattered farms, mostly pastures,” the man answered.
“What is your exact position? How are you able to observe what is happening?”
“I am situated on a hill to the northeast of the entrance to the Fields of Nazir. The hill is elevated and I am able to see the aircraft descend for landing. I cannot see the actual runway, but I can hear the engines in the distance.”
“Very well. Remain in position and report any further activity,” D’Tiene commanded as he terminated the call.
He then looked to his assistant who was waiting by a window. “Reginald, you know I want there to be no possibility of a leak,” D’Tiene said quietly.
“What are you suggesting, Sir?”
“When a pawn as been used to its capacity it must be removed.”
Reginald nodded. “I understand.”

Same Time Local

Prime Minister Naftali sat through the situation briefing and calculating every question he’d be asked. Threats that had been building for months were suddenly at a peak. Plans to deal with the enemies along Israel’s borders had long been laid, plans that were known only to his inner circle of cabinet members and IDF commanders. Built on an obscure Psalm of ancient King David, one that foretold a violent end to Israel’s neighbors, the plan called for a surprise and overwhelming aerial attack. With the final call for Jihad having come from the Ayatollah in Iran, the operation seemed a now-or-never proposition. If action was going to be taken, it had to happen before Russian and Iranian forces were fully in place. Until this moment, the hidden plan had weighed heavily upon him, but not any longer. All other options had been exhausted.
With the issue now resolved in his mind, Naftali brought his attention back to the meat of the briefing. An aide was explaining how Mos’sad agents had an exact accounting of every Russian and European infiltrator. They knew what each was doing. One Russian spy had been terminated immediately after issuing his report, most likely to Polkov. The information that had been passed was precisely the information Naftali intended. The quiet death of the agent would add an element of uncertainty for the Russian Czar, making him wonder if Naftali were one step ahead of his every move.
Naftali smiled inwardly. He was three moves ahead of the Russian and at least two moves ahead of President D’Tiene. He wasn’t making light of the game. It was all too serious. But he was enjoying the knowledge that the masters of intrigue could be manipulated. The question was how they would react to what he was about to initiate militarily?
The intelligence officer wrapped up the brief and nodded toward the prime minister.
Naftali passed his hand over his face before he began. Weariness was setting in. “We know that D’Tiene will seek to eliminate the man he’s stationed outside the base at the Fields of Nazir. The question is when?”
“I believe he will do it rather rapidly” the officer explained. “He believes he knows our destination. He is aware of the training being administered. He now knows we have taken the training to a new level. D’Tiene will suspect that we are nearing a launch point.”
“Then we must force him to act out of his uncertainty. I want him to wonder if we know something he doesn’t,” Naftali thought out loud.
“That would only be beneficial, in my opinion.”
Naftali leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. Those around him knew this as a sign that he’d come to a decision. “D’Tiene will send an assassin in order to maintain his secrecy. But if he finds the man missing, he’ll think we’ve captured him and are forcing him to undergo an intense interrogation. Keeping him in a state of intrigue could play to our advantage.”
“I agree,” opined the officer. “But we already know what he knows.”
“Yes, and that is why you must see to it that the man is eliminated. This must be done immediately, before D’Tiene can orchestrate the deed himself,” said Nafali.
“Consider it done, Mr. Prime Minister. Anything else?”
“Yes, issue the order to initiate Operation Curse to our commanders. It is time to be unpredictable one last time before the so-called peacekeepers remove all opportunity.”

Husifa, Israel
Monday, 5:00 p.m., Local time

Ty was ashamed of himself for having lost track of the time, especially since his lover had been left behind in the apartment. He had no idea he’d get so engrossed in helping out at the food station. He’d forgotten about Blake. When he realized what he’d done he weaved through the masses and ran as hard as he could to get back to her. When he burst through the front door he didn’t have the breath to apologize. All he could do was bend with his hands on his knees and fight for air. Blake saw through his dilemma and giggled with delight.
“What is up with you?” she asked as she went to him and kissed the top of his head.
Ty looked up and drew a deep breath. “I’m sorry for being gone so long.”
“Why? I figured when you left that you were heading out for a purpose. Don’t worry about it. I’ve just been enjoying the chance to recover,” she smiled. She sat again on the small sofa and took her Bible and a thick atlas she’d pulled from a nearby shelf.
Ty came over, sat down beside her.
“What did you find?” she asked.
“I found Pastor Ben’s feeding station. It’s over on a plaza in the center of the town.” Ty stopped and shook his head. “You won’t believe the number of people down there. It was overwhelming. It was a lot like what we were doing in Plattsville, but in a much smaller area. Plus, there aren’t the same amenities available. When I got there I just jumped in and helped. I lost track of the time.” He was still trying to be apologetic.
“Ty, I said don’t worry about it,” she poked him in the ribs. “I know what you were doing. That’s what you do best.”
Ty looked down at the atlas. “What’s that all about?”
“Well, once I got around and got my blood moving in the right direction I sat down to read my Bible. Something about what I was reading grabbed me. I saw this atlas and decided to do a bit of research.”
“What was it?” Ty asked as he ran his finger down a page of the book.
“This.” She picked up the Bible and handed it to her husband. “I was going through a couple of the Psalms and ran into this. Read it,” she suggested. It was opened to Psalm 83.
Ty quickly read through the eighteen verses.
“It’s not your garden variety Psalm is it?” he commented.
“No, and that’s what made me stop and look more closely.” Her brows furrowed as she spoke. “Verse four made me really take notice. ‘They say, Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more.’ Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?”
Ty couldn’t believe he’d never seen these verses before. He’d certainly read the entire Bible through on many occasions, but this had escaped him. He read further and realized why the passage had caught Blake’s attention. “What did you find in the Atlas?”
“I hunted down the names and locations of ancient people groups. What I found was shocking. For instance, the first mention in this Psalm is of Edom, the Ishmaelites, and Moab. We know who they are.”
“Right. Edom was a son of Esau. Moab was a son of Lot. Both settled in what today is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Then, the Saudis themselves acknowledge they are the pure descendants of the Ishmaelites. They’re proud of that fact and believe they are the true heritage of Abraham. Since Abraham gave his inheritance to Isaac rather than Ishmael, and the Jews are the offspring of Isaac, they hate Israel with a passion.”
“What threw me was the name of a people called the Hagrites,” she said, “so I dug deeper. Guess what, a particular Egyptian dynasty was known as the Hagrites.”
“So, Hagrite is used in place of Egypt,” Ty nodded.
“So is Amalek,” she continued, “but it gets worse. According to this atlas, Ammon and Asshur form today’s nation of Syria. Gebal and Tyre form Lebanon. And Philistia was located in the Gaza Strip. Do you see the connection?”
“Wow! I sure do. These are the nations immediately surrounding Israel at this very moment.”
“That’s not all, Ty. The commentary sent me to a couple other spots that reference the destruction of these nations. You already know about Isaiah seventeen. Preaching about it got you in all that trouble, remember?”
“I remember. Damascus was obliterated proving the veracity of all Biblical prophecy.”
“Well, look at Ezekiel chapter twenty-five, verse thirteen,” Blake pointed to the Bible.
Ty read aloud. “Therefore thus says the Lord God, I will stretch out my hand against Edom and cut off from it man and beast. And I will make it desolate; from Teman even to Dedan they shall fall by the sword. And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they shall do in Edom according to my anger and according to my wrath, and they shall know my vengeance, declares the Lord God.”
“This book says Teman was located in the area of northern Syria. Dedan was at the south end of Saudi Arabia. Now, read from verse sixteen,” she said excitedly.
“Okay. It says, ‘Behold, I will stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the rest of the seacoast. I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes. They will know that I am the Lord, when I lay my vengeance upon them.’ Wow!” Ty exclaimed.
“Wait, that’s not all. Go to Obadiah verse eighteen,” Blake said quietly.
Ty turned to the spot. “The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau, for the Lord has spoken.”
Ty sat back as a picture of what was about to happen formed in his mind. He had been so fixated on the coming fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecies in chapters thirty-eight and thirty-nine it appeared he’d missed a step. He suddenly saw two distinct rings of compressions, groups of nations that would come against Israel. Two different waves of attack were coming. Everything fit, especially knowing the alliances depicted in the scripture had been solidifying over the last few weeks. So many arms had come into Gaza and Lebanon by way of Iran and Egypt that Israel hadn’t been able to keep up with the necessary interdiction. In fact, it seemed like they hadn’t even attempted to stop the flow.
Blake was watching his face and saw what had already dawned upon her. “You see it, don’t you?” It was more a statement than a question.
“I see it,” he replied. “Israel is about to be attacked by the nations closest to it. She’ll be forced to respond.” He stood from the sofa and paced back and forth for a minute. “Hey, this could end up being the hook that brings about the Ezekiel prophecy.”
“How do you know this isn’t the same battle in Ezekiel thirty-eight?” she asked.
“Because, in Ezekiel God is the one who destroys the attacking nations. This Psalm 83 thing will be handled by Israel’s military. There’s something else. I also noticed that there is no overlap in the nations described.”
“That’s what I saw. Russian, Iran, Libya, Turkey, and Sudan are a totally different coalition than Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, not to mention the Palestinians,” she stated.
“Israel destroys the first group, God destroys the second,” Ty whispered.
“What does that mean?”
“It means we are about to be caught in the middle of the next war!”

Jimmy Root Jr
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