Wednesday, 9:30 p.m.
The two F-16’s gently touched the surface of Ramat David’s runway then proceeded to the protective bunker for rearming. Moshe pulled his aircraft into the brightly lit hanger and switched off his engine. Two large bay doors were slid shut behind him. Since the canopy was already extended into the air, all he had to do was to wait until the wheels had been choked and a ladder hooked to the plane. He quickly dismounted the aircraft, stretched his legs, and walked straight for the head.
Five minutes later he mounted a motorized cart and was driven through the underground maze to the headquarters bunker. Rockets were still falling in the area, so every aspect of base operations, besides takeoffs and landings, had gone underground. This would be the status until the current onslaught was silenced.
Colonel Natansky was waiting in a small briefing room. Seven other members of the squadron were already there, including Rueben, who still had a glassy look in his eyes after his most recent near-death experience.
“Colonel,” Moshe greeted his commander as he entered.
“Captain, get some coffee and take a seat.”
Moshe helped himself to the stout brew then sat at the table beside his wingman.
“You guys flew into it tonight, didn’t you,” the colonel began. Laid out on a table before them was a large, detailed map of the region. “You’re not the only ones. We’re having confrontations across the board. By the way, tonight was the first time an F-16I ever faced an F-2 Typhoon. Considering the odds, I’d say we came out of it much easier than we thought possible. Well done.”
Rueben rubbed his hand his face from forehead to chin, “I’d say our kosher dills about got pickled, Colonel. Was there no warning that the Saudi’s would send up their fighters?” He was exhibiting the same irritation felt by his squadron leader.
“If you’ll remember, we talked about that possibility. The Arabs and Egyptians decided to get
involved after all.”
“What numbers are we dealing with?” Moshe asked.
“The Saudis put up two dozen Typhoons, and it wasn’t a last minute operation. IDF intelligence believes it was planned to coincide with our response to the Scud launchings.” The colonel pointed at the map toward the lower portion of the Negev near Israel’s border with Egypt. “Those guys sent up a mixture of Mirage 5 and F-16C fighters. We think it was a faint, something to distract the 104th out of Ramon.”
“What makes you say that?” Moshe asked.
“Because they never crossed the buffer zone into Israel. Two of our Lightnings were able to chase them back to the Pharaoh,” Natansky answered.
“I’d say the whole picture smells rotten,” Rueben said bluntly. “We’re getting fired on without provocation, and now everybody wants to get in on the action. I don’t get it.”
Moshe looked at Rueben and wondered if the kid was just about ready to hear the truth. If the moment hadn’t arrived, it was certainly on the way.
Natansky continued. “You best get used to it. This thing is only going to get worse tonight. Right now we have sixteen aircraft engaged against three times their number, and that stretches from Syria to Saudi Arabia. The Jordanians, Iranians, Syrians, and Saudis are coordinating their attacks. They are attempting to draw us away from the Scuds and Shahabs.”
“They’re still firing?” Moshe was incredulous.
“Yes, they are, but not to worry,” said the colonel. “Two squadrons of F-15s out of Tel Nof are doing a bit of search and destroy. At last report, the launches were fewer and farther between.”
Moshe had not yet asked, but the question had been on his mind all evening. “What about the rockets coming out of Lebanon and Gaza?”
“All I can say is we’ve made a dent there as well,” answered Natansky, “but they are still firing at whatever they think they can hit.” The colonel knew what Moshe and the other pilots were thinking. Most of them had family at risk, especially since the longer-ranged Fetah-110 rockets were being used. “But I’ll be honest. Everything from Haifa to Tel Aviv is being targeted. The good news is civilian casualties are incredibly light. We’ve got to make sure it stays that way.”
“What will be the plan?” asked another of the pilots.
“Order’s have just come down from headquarters. Operation Pile Driver will begin within the hour. However, another operation has just been initiated. It is called, Clean Slate.”
“Does that mean what I think it means?” asked Rueben.
“Probably more. Clean Slate will utilize a three strand approach. The first strand will be to launch a simultaneous attack against enemy air assets in Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. That means an attack will be initiated by both manned aircraft, and unmanned drones. We will also achieve air superiority through air-to-air combat.” Colonel Natansky then drew a line on the map with his finger beginning in Beirut, Lebanon and sliding all the way to Amman, Jordan. “The second strand will involve the use of High Impulse Thermobaric explosives, or HITs for short. At least two waves of HITs will be dropped over Jordan and Lebanon. The Gaza Strip and portions of the West Bank will also be targeted.”
“Oy vey!” whispered Rueben. Thermobaric weapons were outlawed by the Geneva Convention. The reason was easy to figure. HITs had the effect of a tactical nuclear weapon, but without the residual radiation. They utilized a pre-determined altitudinal release of a high explosive mist over the target. A small, secondary charge then ignited the fuel and the surrounding oxygen. The effect was an enormous fireball, followed by a massive shockwave. People in the blast zone were vaporized. All buildings would be flattened.
“That’s not all,” Natansky said as he slid his finger toward the Arabian Peninsula. “The last strand of the operation will involve a salvo of nuclear tipped cruise missiles. Along with them will be several Jericho IIIs. Arabia and Egypt will be turned into a wasteland. Your little part of the mission will be to minimize the numbers of S-300 anti-aircraft missile that are parked around King Khalid Military City and Hafar-al-Batin airbase in the north. In other words, you have to clear the way so that the Jerichos can get through.”
Moshe shook his head in disbelief. The Jericho III had a range of nearly eight thousand miles and carried multiple-independently-targetable reentry vehicles, called MIRVs. Each warhead delivered a nuclear yield of anywhere from three to ten kilotons. But it wasn’t Israel’s exertion of force that shocked him. Rather, it was seeing the prophecies unfold right before his eyes, prophecies he been taught within the last three days. What Ty described as the ‘inner ring’ nations were about to be turned into toast.
General Telnikov directed the pilot of the Hind gunship to carry him from one side of Lebanon to the other. All along the border rocket fire was being met by smart bombs. As the helicopter moved on an eastward track, he could see that neither the Israelis nor the Hezbollah were slacking off in intensity of the attacks. By the massive blasts being generated, Telnikov could tell the Israeli Air Force was utilizing 500 pound guided munitions, most of those being fragmentation bombs designed to kill and destroy well outside the impact point. But the number of rockets shooting through the skies toward Israel demonstrated that little progress was being made, at least in this sector.
He leaned to the center of the chopper and looked for the time indicator to the right of the pilot’s console. He could hardly believe they’d been airborne for an hour. The sights and sounds of war still had the effect of slowing him down in time. Mostly he was amazed that the current escalation of hostilities over Jordan and Saudi Arabia had not yet spilled into Lebanon. After all, it was through Hezbollah and Hamas that Iran was exacerbating the current crises.
Just then, the voice of the communications officer broke into the Telnikov’s musings. “General, our forward post in Chebaa is reporting increased armored movement within Israel.”
One of the first operations carried out by the Russian 7th Armored Division had been to establish an electronic listening post on the slope of Mount Herman. Situated high above the city of Chebaa, the position provided the ability to monitor ground positions and movements of the combatants. Everything from the Golan to the Mediterranean Sea was visible by radar.
“Where is the activity?” barked the general.
“The operative says Israeli tanks are coming out of bunkers in mass. They are moving into the Golan Heights.”
“Pilot,” Telnikov ordered, “turn this thing around and head for the Golan, but make no threatening moves. I want a parallel course to the border all the way to the post.”
“Da, General.” The Hind banked hard to the right and proceeded to transport the general into the danger.
Fifteen minutes later the helicopter flared and landed on a flat shelf on the side of Mount Herman. With a thumbs-up, the pilot signaled the general that it was safe to dismount and move to the protection of the small container-sized. The chopper lifted off the second Telnikov was clear of the rotors. The asset was too valuable to leave exposed to a mortar fire.
Telnikov opened the door and poked his head in the narrow doorway of the communications trailer. Four members of the Russian 7th were seated before a long panel that provided several video monitors and audio enhancers. High resolution, night vision capable cameras were perched on top of the trailer and provided video feeds of the Golan slope.
A corporal, seated at a console, turned to Telnikov. “Please take a seat, General.”
“Tell me what you have found, Vitally,” Telnikov said as he sat beside the operative.
The corporal pointed to a large monitor.
“Sir, this camera is pointed at the center of the Golan Heights about eight kilometers from this location.” The screen was black. The corporal switched the monitor into infrared mode and the site caused Telnikov to take a quick breath.
The heat signatures of at least sixty Merkova Mk IV main battle tanks, in cadres of six, stood out from the darkness. They were making their way up the slopes of the Golan Heights. Following each cadre was a group of MDT David light armored vehicles intermixed with several Namer troop carriers. It was difficult to distinguish between tanks and troop carriers, thus adding to the chilling effect that Israel’s entire Golani Brigade was moving toward Syria.
Just then another soldier at the other end of the trailer shouted. “We have six Longbow aircraft bearing down on our position.”
Telnikov got up and moved to the man’s side so he could see the radar signatures. Sure enough, six Israeli ‘Saraf’ attack helicopters were changing course and flaring up the side of Mount Herman. They were coming straight toward the listening post.
The soldier looked up into the eyes of the general. Telnikov knew what the kid was thinking. The Saraf was an upgraded version of the American AH-64D Apache Longbow, and it was nothing less than fast and deadly. The question was whether or not these Sarafs had a deadly intent in their approach. Telnikov knew that exiting the trailer was useless. Not only could the Sarafs destroy the trailer from long distance, they could also vaporize any human targets in the
area by utilizing their M230 chain guns. That made the decision a non-starter.
“Don’t worry,” the general said as he placed a hand on the soldier’s shoulder. “If they wanted to kill us we would be dead already.”
Immediately the roar of six turbine engines roared over the listening post and off into the night sky.
“Shall I report to Moscow, General?” asked the communications officer.
Telnikov almost gave the order, but a thought brought him up short. The Iranians have brought this upon themselves. If I were in Israel’s place, I too would perform a blocking action against that madman. Israel is making no threat to the other members of the coalition. He came to his decision.
“Have any of our other posts detected this movement?” Telnikov asked.
“Very well. Israel just wants the Iranian to consider the consequences of his actions. Send no report, and make no reference of this to the other posts until first light,” Telnikov ordered.
“Da, General.” The operative glanced at his comrade in the next chair and ever-so-slightly raised his eyebrows.
Ramat David Air Base
Wednesday, 10:15 p.m.
“Okay, Captain, what is going on?” Rueben sat down on the couch beside his squadron commander then slid into a semi-reclined position.
Moshe’s squadron was thirty minutes away from pre-flight preparations for their assignments. The original mission of assisting in Operation Pile Drive by flying high-altitude cover had changed. Operation Clean Slate was now the order of the night, and that meant extreme involvement in clearing the skies over Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Following Moshe’s Lightning squadrons would be the F-15 Thunders loaded to the hilt with earth-pounding ordinance. The enemy had better be tucked into a hole.
Moshe’s hands were clasped behind his head when Ruben sidled up to him. He understood an important moment had arrived, one he’d been silently praying for since their shift had begun that afternoon.
“Remember the other day when I told you these things had been written beforehand?” Moshe asked.
“Yeah, that prophecy mumbo jumbo,” Rueben nodded.
“Not so mumbo jumbo now is it?” Moshe figured he might as well be straight forward.
“I guess not. Tell me more.”
“Our little prophecy talk revolved around what the Russians and Iranians are doing, but there is more. Do you remember that American couple we saved from the Turks last week?”
“Well, he is the guy who is stepping in for the preacher at my wife’s church.”
“What happened to the other Rabbi?”
“That’s the crazy part,” Moshe said. “He told me about a special operation he’d signed up for; one I wish I could tell you about. I can’t.”
“So, you’re not telling me anything, but the man is probably doing something that is connected with tonight’s activities, right?” If nothing else, Rueben was astute. “I suppose he told you about everything the prophets said.’
“That’s just it. He didn’t teach us any prophecies from the Torah that dealt with this exact scenario,” Moshe confessed as he dropped his hands to his thighs.
“I thought you said this was all written before hand,” Rueben stated.
“What I’m saying is Pastor Ben had no idea. The American found it. He showed the whole thing to us last evening. Believe it or not, he took us to some passages in the Torah that predicted precisely what we are about to do.”
“Really?” Rueben exclaimed. “I won’t ask where. I haven’t read anything in the Torah since my bar-mitzvah. Just tell me what it said.”
“Five different prophets named the nations and what would happen. The time frame of their destruction is given as well.”
“What do you mean?” Rueben asked.
“They all give a general reference about a time after Israel is restored as a nation. From there, the prophets cited Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. Two of the prophets said the destruction of those nations would happen from the evening to the morning…in other words, one single night; one single event.”
Rueben rubbed his hands over his face as he tried to absorb what he was hearing. Moshe sat quietly and waited.
Finally, Rueben asked the question Moshe had been hoping for. “Why? Why would that stuff be written like that? It seems like God, if there is one, is saying; ‘this is going to happen and there’s not a thing you can do about it.’”
“I think you’re partly right,” Moshe nodded, “but there is another reason. He gave it to us as a proof.”
“What kind of proof?”
“Well, for one, proof that he exists. For another, we have proof that every other thing he said is also true. In other words, the prophecies are not just warnings. They form a personal call to everyone who will listen.” Moshe paused to see if Rueben was tracking with him.
Rueben waved his hands in front of him as if to say come on, give me more. The young pilot’s life had been threatened enough over the last few days to give him a sense of his own mortality. He was no longer in the mood to clown around.
Moshe breathed a prayer that God would make his next few words sink into Rueben’s heart.
“You see,” Moshe continued, “this thing is winding down to some sort of an end. The Torah explains what the end will look like, and these prophetic events are proof that we are getting close.”
“Close to what?”
Moshe figured he’d come this far. His only option was to take the plunge and let God sort it all out for his wingman. If Rueben’s faith was going to be ignited, it would happen in the next few minutes. He laid it all out, including the plan of salvation he had received from Ben.
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