Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chapter Twenty-two


North Central Lebanon
Wednesday, November 18
6:00 a.m.

“They are doing what?” shouted General Telnikov. He flattened the palm of his hands on the communications desk as his eyes took in the communiqué on the computer screen. There was no need for anyone to answer the question.
A second wave of long range missiles were in the air, the first wave having produced a few impacts in Israel over the course of the last half an hour. The report indicated that IDF Patriot batteries had intercepted the majority of incoming missiles, but the numbers were taxing the system.
“Where are the launch points?” the general demanded.
“They are not hiding, sir. The scuds are coming in from eastern Syria while the Shahabs are being launched from Iran.”
“Twelve in the first wave; just three Scuds successfully penetrated the Patriot shield. So far, the count is over twenty in total, many of them being the Shahabs,” said the operative. He reached up and ran his finger down a row of data on the monitor. “We have three more impacts. One hit west of Jerusalem in the hills. Two have landed in area of Tel Aviv.”
Telnikov clinched his fist and brought it down hard on the desk. Bile rose in his throat from the growing knot in his gut. Things could get out of hand very quickly. “Has Israel responded?”
“Not since they took out the Zelzal launchers and a dozen Iranian aircraft,” the operative informed. “That was an hour ago. There has been no further encroachment into Syria or Jordan.”
“What resistance came from the Iranian and Jordanian aircraft?”
“Our surveillance showed no air-to-air missiles were fired from either. They simply engaged their attack radar.”
Telnikov emotions went from anger to puzzlement. He caught the eye of a nearby private and motioned him toward the coffee pot in the corner. His morning tea was not going to carry the punch he needed. He turned to the rear wall of the trailer and studied the situation map displayed on a large video screen.
The current missile activity was displayed by flashing blips coming out of deserts of Syria and Iran. Beyond the fact they were moving contrary to the coalition plan, the Iranians now seemed to be playing the role of instigator. In other words, Telnikov thought to himself, they are creating a mess, and I will be the one who has to clean it up.
Only two conclusions could be reached in the general’s analysis. Either Kazimi was crazy, or he was attempting to incite the Israeli Defense Forces into a confrontation outside their borders. He was disgusted by the thought that both conclusions were true.

The Fields of Nazir
Wednesday, 6:40 a.m.

Acrid smoke wafted across the compound of the base. Barely two hundred meters separated the headquarters bunker from the burning wreckage of a C-130 transport. It had been less than thirty minutes since an incoming enemy missile had decimated the recently fueled aircraft. Fire teams had done their job in preventing the fire from spreading to other nearby buildings, but the remains of the plane continued to smolder.
All Ben and the team could do was to hunker down until the all clear was given. The importance of the team’s purpose had precluded them from fire duty. Now, as they exited the bunker and headed for a conference room in the main building, all could see that dependence on a missile shield had its drawbacks.
Ben had been pouring through the scriptures earlier when the base klaxon had sounded. His mind, though being temporarily rattled, now found a way back to what he’d been studying. With this attack by Scud missiles, the prophetic description of a war with the nations surrounding Israel was suddenly clear. Israel’s situation was changing rapidly, and the IDF would soon be forced to give an overwhelming response.
Ari Goins waved the men through the front door and down the hall to a briefing room. Hannah Lira was already there and waiting. The men quickly found a seat.
“Gentlemen, the trigger to what we visited about last evening has been fired, but the Iranian provocation was not unexpected,” she began. “However, it may speed up our time frame even more.”
No one blinked. They had been training for several days, and though they were not yet in peak physical condition, the job could be handled. Each had performed high-risk military duty during their years of service. The thought of a possible return to danger frightened none of them. Hannah could see that fact in their eyes.
One of the men interjected the question that was on all their minds. “How bad was the attack, Hannah?” The team member was from a kibbutz between Ashkelon and Tel Aviv.
“We know that a few missiles got by the Patriot batteries, but we have not yet been informed of the damage,” Hannah paused, “at least beyond what we saw out on the tarmac here. The word I received mentioned that Tel Aviv took the most impacts. However, that is not all that is happened this morning. The air force has been on the attack in southern Lebanon all night long. Then, at around four o’clock, rockets began raining down on Jerusalem.”
That statement caused several of the men to stiffen noticeably. Only Ben verbalized his thoughts. “What?”
“Short ranged Zelzal missiles were fired from across the Dead Sea,” Hannah continued. “Jerusalem was the target.”
“That is crazy,” Ben exclaimed. “Why would they risk hitting their mosques, let alone the Arab Quarter?”
“I can’t answer that. Even though they missed hitting the holy sites on Temple Mount, some of the rockets landed within the Knesset and Supreme Court compounds. One actually took out a wing of offices at the Foreign Ministry, but no one was hurt.”
“Alright,” said Dov Tolberg, “what did we do to them?”
“Two flights of F-16s were re-tasked from the Lebanese border. They went into Jordan and cleared out the culprits. But that’s not all. Jordan sent up a few of its own F-16s, and they were accompanied by about a dozen Iranian MiGs.” Hannah shook her head as if she could hardly believe the stupidity being shown by the Iranians. “Needless to say, the world is now short on Jordanian F-16s and Iranian MiGs. We lost no planes in the battle. In fact, the fight only lasted a couple of minutes, but half an hour later, larger missiles started flying out of Syria and Iran.”
Ben imagined Moshe would have liked to have been a part of that little skirmish. Maybe he was. The man had already been involved in the first-hand fulfillment of prophecy. Why not have a few more opportunities to witness God’s manipulation of human history?
“Anyway,” Hannah continued, “some things have come to light that you need to be aware of. First, the IDF is about to appear as if it is reacting to the situation by moving through the Golan Heights and into Syria. However, the action was already scheduled to take place tonight. The Iranians were just kind enough to make it look like we have a reason. Second, we suspected that other elements might be attempting to recover the Ark. That has now been confirmed.”
“How?” said Ben. It didn’t surprise him that the IDF was on the verge of invading Syria, especially after he’d just read it in the scriptures. The revelation that others had the same covert intent to find the ark, however, got his attention.
“That is a Mos’sad thing, but the fact has been confirmed by the government,” answered Hannah. “What does this mean for us? Nothing, except we may run into a bit of company on our mission. Make no mistake, we are going, no matter who might be trying to beat us to it. A little competition isn’t going to stop us.”
The woman’s spunk made Ben and the others smile. She was diminutive in stature only.

Same Time

Yosef Naftali attempted to separate himself from his role as Prime Minister of Israel but found the task daunting. Trying to keep his people from becoming an extinct species was forcing compassion to take a back seat in his decision making process. Compassion was a deep emotion. What his job demanded right now was cold calculation, even through the grief of knowing Israel’s Foreign Minister and President were dead. These men had not only been his partners in establishing a coalition government, they had been very close friends for many years. Their loss was a blow to the nation, and to his heart. Thus, his emotions cried out for vengeance. His duty mandated he stick to the plan he’d created.
“Yosef, they have given us an opening that we must exploit,” exclaimed the Assistant Foreign Minister. The man’s promotion had come at the tip of a Scud, though his title would not be upgraded for a few days. “The world cannot oppose our right of self-defense.”
“Shimon, the world has nothing to do with this,” Naftali offered calmly. “We have fallen to the wiles of world opinion since our formation and it has gotten us nowhere. We will be on the wrong side of world opinion no matter what we do; short of walking with our women and children into the sea. No, my friend, we cannot overreact. We must stick to the plan.”
“But our people are at risk, Yosef.”
“Our people have always been at risk.” Naftali assumed the aura of a professor arguing philosophy. He understood the concept of risk in a much deeper way than his young Foreign Minister simply because his mother’s family had perished in Nazi camps. The product of his sad history was patience. “We will continue to be at risk for quite some time. Of course, the welcomed appearance of Messiah would change that state of being, but we cannot count on that occurrence. No, our best opportunity for victory is through patience.”
“So, you intend to remain conventional and push through the Golan rather than strike an ultimate blow to our enemy?” the Minister continued to challenge.
“Yes, yes, my friend. We will stay conventional for as long as we can. You forget that unleashing nuclear weapons this close to our homeland would endanger millions of Jewish lives!” The Prime Minister was showing hints that he was losing his patience. “You also forget we have another mission in the works, one that will unite our people like never before. We must hold fast to the plan!” Naftali stood and walked around the room. “However, Shimon, I do agree that haste should be applied to part of our design. That is why I have moved the timetable on the ARC project forward by several days.”
“Why that project and not a full-fledged move against our enemies?”
“There are various factors,” the Prime Minister replied. “Concerning ARC, it appears we are now in a race. Although I’ve known at least one other party was after our prized artifact, others have shown their hand as well. We must also consider the Russians. At present, they are holding steady in the mountains of Lebanon trying to determine the actions of the Iranians. I do not doubt they would react rather violently to any nuclear action we might take. This is why we must be patient. If the nuclear option becomes necessary, it must be our last and only option.”
The Assistant Foreign Minister pondered what the Prime Minister had said. His position leaned toward hawkishness, but he remained teachable. In that, he was a reflection of the nation. Israelis would follow a leader with wisdom and patience.

Jimmy Root Jr
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