As I stood there holding charred and splintered pieces of the military jeep, my heart was flooded with grief. It was on this blackened piece of asphalt just 18 months earlier that IDF Staff Sgt. Omer Tabib lost his life to a precision-guided anti-tank missile fired by Hamas in Gaza. And here was a piece of his jeep, also destroyed by the missile, in my hand.
Tabib, only 21 years old, was the first military casualty of Operation Guardian of the Walls, the 2021 Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas. At Omer’s funeral, his mother, Tali, said that he was just weeks away from his official military discharge.
Two other soldiers were seriously injured in the attack. A civilian from Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara saved the lives of the soldiers by loading them into the back of his pickup truck and driving them to emergency medical services that were stationed further away.
It was here at Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara that I met with this civilian hero and paid my respects to Omer at a makeshift memorial in his honor (pictured above).
Danger on the Kibbutz
Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara is situated directly on the border and is the closest community to Gaza. A kibbutz is a communal settlement in Israel, usually involved in agriculture or tourism. This kibbutz was founded in 1982 as a result of the Camp David Accords.
Despite the constant threat of missile attacks, breaches in the security wall, and terrorist tunnels, this brave community continues to thrive—working, living, and learning in this town only 400 meters from those who would like to wipe them off the face of the earth.
My colleague and I viewed Gaza from an overlook, not shielded from the view of a Hamas militant in his own lookout, which was spray-painted with an antisemitic threat on the side in Hebrew to their Israeli neighbors. I could see him quickly making phone calls to his commanders about us women peering at him through binoculars (sorry, Mom!). We did not stay there long.
Our guide for this trip to the border was my friend, Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, executive director for Operation Lifeshield. The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry (FOI) partners very closely with Shmuel and Operation Lifeshield to help protect vulnerable people in Israel by installing bomb shelters and firefighting equipment.
Every time the sirens sound, FOI bomb shelters protect as many as 1,100 Israeli civilians at schools, bus stops, playgrounds, sports fields, and city streets.
Through our partnership with Operation Lifeshield, FOI’s Israel Relief Fund has installed 55 bomb shelters throughout Israel. Every time the sirens sound, FOI bomb shelters protect as many as 1,100 Israeli civilians at schools, bus stops, playgrounds, sports fields, and city streets. And we are working hard to install more bomb shelters every day—because the threat is not over.
Bomb shelters are just one of many ways The Friends of Israel is working to save physical and spiritual lives in Israel.
Serving Jesus’ Brethren
Today, with the nation of Israel reborn, the need to help the sons and daughters of Jacob continues. Our Israel Relief Fund’s sole purpose is to help with Israeli humanitarian needs. Jesus once said that when we help to feed, clothe, shelter, protect, or heal a Jewish person in need, we have done it to Him (Matthew 25:37–40).
Because our salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ comes through God’s covenant promises to Israel, we are indebted to help the Jewish people materially: “For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.” (Romans 15:27).
We do what the Lord has tasked us with: We feed, clothe, protect, provide medical equipment, and save lives through relief and humanitarian aid in Israel.
And so we do what the Lord has tasked us with: We feed, clothe, protect, provide medical equipment, and save lives through relief and humanitarian aid in Israel.
As I stood there with the piece of Omer’s jeep in my hand, by the side of Israeli heroes, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the continued service and sacrifice of the Israel Defense Forces, who make it safe for you and me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps in the Holy Land, but who also protect God’s precious people and their right to live in the land the Lord promised to them.
If you wish to participate in blessing Israel, you can give to the Israel Relief Fund. Your gift will be used to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the Jewish people in the Holy Land.