Same Time Local
Andre D’Tiene covered the phone with his hand and rolled his eyes. All his aide could do was to shrug his shoulders. The conversation seemed to be another exercise in futility, as it always seemed to be whenever he had to deal with anything Middle Eastern. In this case, the frustration was being caused by the Turkish ambassador to the Mediterranean Union.
Yes, Halil, I understand that Israel destroyed your fighter aircraft. But you must admit your people made the provocation. Your pilots attempted to down a civilian aircraft.
“But that was after the Israelis attacked and destroyed our surveillance ship off the coast of Lebanon,” responded the ambassador. “We had to demonstrate our right to protect our assets, even if the entire scenario was a ruse.”
“If you understand the reasons for doing what we’ve done, why then is your president so intent on exacting vengeance for escalating a confrontation that was planned? My request was to shadow the civilian aircraft to ascertain its mission, not attempt to shoot it from the sky.”
“May I suggest you call the president of Turkey yourself to explain the error of his ways?” retorted the ambassador.
D’Tiene realized he’d take the argument a bit too far. The time had come to allow the embattled ambassador to save face. It was unfriendly to back a Turk into a corner without giving him a way of graceful escape. “Listen my friend, you have the ear of your president, and this is all I can ask. I appreciate the measure of calm you have brought to the situation. Now, if we can find a way to assist him in understanding that our plan will administer the greatest measure of humiliation for the Israelis, then your function in this issue will have been crowned as a complete success.”
D’Tiene paused, but not enough for the ambassador to respond.
“I am also grateful that you will be able to dissuade your president from following Iran’s lead in dealing with Israel outside the coalition. When will you be able to give me an update?”
The ambassador took the offered olive branch and answered. “I shall attempt to contact you in the morning.”
“As-Salamu Alaykum, Halil my friend. I look forward to seeing you soon.” D’Tiene used the Arabic farewell. The desired effect of pleasing the ambassador was achieved.
D’Tiene laid the handset on the desk and leaned back in his chair. He clasped his hands behind his head, and then looked up at the ceiling to ponder the conversation.
The aide smiled. “He has no clue, does he?”
“No, he does not. The Turks will hold back until I give them the word to proceed. What they have done has only added to the diversion. They must never find out what our intentions are. Only when they and the Iranians have decimated one another will I be able to assume full control of the situation.”
“When will you set the trap?”
“Soon,” said D’Tiene, “very soon. Now that the Israelis believe they have eliminated our observer, the ARC team will be patient. Naftali thinks he is a step ahead of me, but he is actually two steps behind.”
“Shall we leak the messages?”
“Not just yet,” responded D’Tiene, “we have time.”
Israeli Border With Lebanon
Tuesday, 9:15 p.m. Local Time
“Frisbee, I’m moving to the next set of coordinates. Follow along please,” grunted Moshe has he took his F-16 through a series of sharp maneuvers that triggered his g-suit. The function of the suit was to force blood from his extremities and keep it in the vicinity of his brain. The purpose was to keep the pilot from passing out during intense, gravity-producing turns. A steady stream of chaff bundles were being ejected from his tail in the event a Stinger missile was launched at him from the ground.
“Dagger, that had to have been a fuel truck that just went up in a fireball. You definitely killed the two tanks that were parked beside it,” Rueben Cohen exclaimed with laughter. “All I did was to take out a missile shooter.”
“It was pretty, I’ll grant you that. Pull up and take the lead on the next run. You need the practice,” Moshe ordered. Rueben really didn’t need the practice. Moshe had simply fired his last piece of heavy ordinance of this sortie. All he had remaining was one Maverick and his air-to-air missiles. So far, no aerial response to their attack had come.
“Coming up on your left to take the lead,” Rueben advised twenty seconds later. “Looks like a beehive down there.”
As no fighter-driven reception committee had challenged the F-16s, night vision equipment was being used by the entire squadron.
“Intel says it’s a cache for a few thousand Katyushas, maybe even some Zelzal 2s,” said Moshe. The Katyusha had been the rocket of choice over the last two years for the Hizbollah. But it was believed by IDF intelligence spooks that the Iranian-built Zelzal 2 was also present, with a max range of 400 kilometers. In fact, Moshe thought he’d seen several larger rocket trails zip through the skies from this general vicinity several minutes earlier. With a 60 kilogram warhead, the rocket could do severe damage, and the distance from this position to Haifa or Tel Aviv was not that great. He hoped Husifa, just outside of Haifa on Mount Carmel, was not one of the intended targets. Ramat David airbase was also a probable target for the terrorists.
“Let’s blow them back to the stone age, Dagger,” Rueben transmitted as he locked onto the target with his Maverick. The pair of Lightnings was a mile away from the next target and coming in hot. “Frisbee, Fox Three.”
“Dagger, Fox Three,” Moshe fired his missile. “Time to head for the base for some new boomers.”
Moshe pulled the nose of his Lightning hard to the left, moving his aircraft away from the target and southward toward Israeli territory. He inverted the plane in order to get an eye on the explosion the Maverick missiles were about to cause. He was not disappointed. He remained in that attitude and watched several secondary explosions light up the sky all around the target.
Rueben could not contain himself. “I think we just rocked their world a bit.”
Moshe came back to level flight and swiveled his head to scan the horizon out both sides of the canopy. Flashes of light were pricking the sky in every direction along the border, some deeper into Lebanon. The sight was awesome and frightening at the same time. At least sixty Israeli fighter aircraft were in the air over Lebanon at the moment, and that type of fire power had not been amassed against Israel’s northern neighbor since the 1982 war. So far, not one F-16, or F-15 had been shot at by anti-aircraft missiles, and that was after more than an hour of operation. This was an example of a precision surgical strike at its finest.
Much of the first hour of attack had rendered Lebanese command and control useless. At the same time, F-15 Ra’ams had concentrated their fire on Iranian, Syrian, and even Turkish anti-aircraft platforms that had been recently installed. With the removal of the threat, the F-16s were able to go about their tasks with much less distraction. Moshe was glad of it.
Only seven minutes passed before he and Rueben were extending flaps and lowering landing gear for the approach into Ramat David. They would have two more sorties then three hours of sleep before flying into the next stage of the operation.
The Fields of Nazir Training Facility
Wednesday, November 18
Ben sat at the small desk in his quarters and thumbed through his Bible. He couldn’t stop thinking about what was happening. It was too early in the morning to be awake, even for the military, but he was really bugged. Why had he never stumbled across the Biblical scenario that Hannah had presented? He’d spent so much time focusing on Ezekiel 38 and 39 he’d missed some very important pieces to the apocalyptic puzzle. “And I’m supposed to be a pastor, for crying out loud!” he chastised himself. “Am I that blind?”
Yet the words of the prophet Joel were staring him in the face, and with a chilling effect. “In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem…” Then later, “Come quickly, all you surrounding nations, and assemble there with all your warriors.” Ben read the entire passage again and again, and it was suddenly clear. After a time when both Judah and Jerusalem were restored, God would enter into judgment with the nations that surrounded Israel. The fulfillment of Joel’s time frame could happen only after Israel was reborn as a nation and have Jerusalem as its prominent city. The latter did not happen until the 1967 Arab/Israeli war.
But there was more to it than just the rebirth of the nation. The fortunes of Judah also included the land. Wasn’t that what every war fought with the Arabs was about? Ishmael had never forgiven Isaac for being Abraham’s chosen heir. God had promised every square inch of land upon which Abraham set his foot as an inheritance forever. That promise went forward to Isaac, and then to Jacob. The last one to take dominion over the total entire Promised Land was King Solomon. His rule went from the Euphrates River north of Damascus, all the way to the Nile River. It extended from northern Lebanon to east of the Dead Sea. The area was roughly three times the land mass occupied by Israel at the present time.
He thumbed the pages back to Ezekiel 36 and read. “Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, hear the word of the Lord to the mountains and the hills; ‘But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people on you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will bless you more than ever before.”
The same passage also included a severe judgment against Jordan, Syria, and all the other surrounding nations. He’d never seen any of it before, yet here it was in literal, easy-to-understand terms.
Just as Hannah had presented, Psalm 83 clarified who the surrounding nations were by using their ancient names. Zephaniah did the same in the second chapter of his prophecy. Zechariah used the same basic setup in chapter nine, but zeroed in on the Gaza Strip as the object of divine wrath. It was uncanny and totally believable.
“Father,” he said aloud as he pushed the Bible aside and lowered his forehead into the palms of his hands, “how could I have missed this? Have I been so dull? Are we really on the brink of retaking all the ancient lands claimed by Solomon?”
There was no other way to look at what was happening. This was it. More prophecy than he’d ever discovered was about to be fulfilled. And then he thought about Ingrid, and Tasha, and… “Oh God, I’ve brought Ty and his wife into this mess!”
Ingrid and Tasha weren’t thinking about the fulfillment of prophecy. They were concerned about their American friends. Israel was acclimatized to terror. The Sielers were not.
Questions blazed through their minds in the form of anxiety. Had Ty and Blake remembered to head for a shelter? Had they remembered where the shelter was located? Had the rockets hit the shelters?
Though it was very early in the morning, the streets were well lit. People were beginning to move out of shelters and back to their homes as the rocket attack had ended for an hour earlier. As strange as it might seem to a foreigner, life would be lived at the same pace as usual. Aid stations would be opened. People who were still employment would go to work. Children outside the blast zone of Haifa would attend school. Military personnel would continue to defend the homeland. Tragedy was a constant in the Holy Land. Life would go on.
Tasha had pulled Ingrid through the streets since the moment they had surfaced from their designated shelter. Nearly two kilometers separated them in distance from the apartment Ty and Blake were using, but distance has not a consideration at the moment. They were now within a block.
“I won’t forgive myself if something happened to them,” Tasha moaned. “God, let them be alright.”
“Honey, they’ll be fine,” Ingrid offered encouragement as she had for the entire jaunt. “None of this is your fault.”
“I know, I know. I’m just scared.”
“Yes you are. You need to let go of it,” Ingrid said more sternly. “We are all here because Yeshua placed us here, Pastor Ty and Blake too!?
“Yes, yes, let’s just hurry.”
The two skirted the rocky outcropping of a building and Tasha ran face first into the chest of Tyler Dempsey.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Ty exclaimed.
“We’re okay, ladies,” said Blake as Ingrid wrapped both arms around her.
“Ay, we were so worried about you,” said Tasha as she released her bear hug on Ty and pulled away. She then saw the dried blotches of blood on the front of his jacket. “Oh my, what happened? Are you hurt? Ingrid, look at this.”
“It’s alright. Neither of us is injured in anyway. We just ran into a girl that needed help.”
Tasha noticed a building across the street with its third story reduced to rubble. Chunks of concrete, wood, and glass were all over the area. Her breath caught in her throat and her hands immediately moved to her mouth. Ty followed her gaze.
“Goodness, that came really close, didn’t it?” she whispered.
“It sure did,” Ty responded, “so did about four others. They obviously zeroed in on our location.”
“Does this stuff happen around here very often?” Blake asked.
Ingrid shook her head. “We have never been attacked in Husifa before. This is something new, and by the size of the damage to that building, these are bigger rockets than anything we’ve seen.” She saw the startled look in Blake’s eyes and knew she needed to distract her before a wave of fear could grow. “Tell me about the girl you found. Was she terribly injured?”
Blake launched into the story as the four began walking toward the apartment. She was in her element sharing the actions of her groom, all to the embarrassment of Ty. “But once we got into the shelter, we wondered how the others would feel about American’s being in there with them.”
“Did someone say anything hateful to you?” Tasha’s forehead was creased. She was ready to bite the head off of anyone who showed ill will toward the Dempseys.
Ty chuckled at Tasha’s reaction. Blake smiled too. “Nah, nothing like that happened. In fact, they all were wondering why we were there. They couldn’t figure out why any American would be in Israel right now. The ones who spoke English hadn’t heard that the United States had also been attacked with nuclear weapons. Anyway, there were several with minor injuries, and there was a general sense of fear in the place.”
“Again,” said Ingrid, “that’s because this location has never been hit by rockets before. This is bad.”
“That must be it,” Blake agreed, “but the cool thing was they actually let us go around and pray for the ones who were hurt.”
“They what?” Tasha burst out.
“It’s true, they let us pray for them,” Blake smiled. “One man spoke English and translated whatever we prayed for the rest of them.”
“And did you pray in Yeshua’s name? I guess it would be Jesus for you?” Tasha asked quietly.
“I did,” answered Ty. “I felt it was the perfect moment.”
Tasha couldn’t believe it. Cordiality towards the Christian religion rarely extended to those who actually propagated Jesus as Messiah.
“That’s not all,” smiled Blake as they came to the alcove leading to the apartment entrance. “One of the young men later came to Ty and asked why he prayed in the name of Yeshua. Ty spent a good portion of the night sharing Jesus with the guy.”
Ty and Blake stepped through the entrance and began climbing the steps up to the apartment, but Ingrid held Tasha back, looked her in the eyes, and smiled. “So, that fear really helped you, didn’t it?”
Tasha looked at her mentor and stuck her tongue out. Then she reached out and hugged her.
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