By David Parsons, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman
When waves of Hamas terrorists breached the border fence and slaughtered over 1,200 Israelis on October 7, there were four Israeli communities just north of Gaza who managed to fend off the attackers and avoid the carnage which befell other border villages. According to Amnon Ziv, security chief for the Hof Ashkelon region, it was special communication equipment donated last year by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem which helped save the lives of over 3,000 local residents under his watch during the widespread massacre that day.
Hof Ashkelon Region
Amnon lives in Netiv HaAzara, the Israeli village closest to the Erez Crossing, which was penetrated by hundreds of armed Hamas terrorists on the morning of Simchat Torah. On the day of the massacre, Amnon instantly realized Israel was being invaded from Gaza, so he grabbed his weapons to protect the kibbutz, and at the same time used the radio devices provided by ICEJ to send a simultaneous alert to all the standby squads in his kibbutz as well as those in Yad Mordechai, Zikim and Karmia. This allowed all four communities to rapidly organize and fight off the terrorists at their gates and perimeters fences. Their swift and courageous actions prevented the Hamas gunmen from entering the kibbutzim and massacring their residents. As a result, these communities did not suffer the same tragic fate as Kfar Aza, Kibbutz Be’eri and many Israeli villages in the Gaza border area.
“When I heard the paragliders, I realized that they were terrorists,” recalled Amnon. “I took out my weapon and shouted on the radio: ‘Security chiefs, terrorists at Netiv HaAzara! Go to the defence! Go to the attack!’ The emergency teams had eight minutes to organize, and thanks to this, three thousand people were saved.”
“I assessed that they intended to reach Ashkelon and murder hundreds of people,” Amnon added.
Amnon said that the regional council had been asking the Israeli army for these special radio devices for the last five years, but never got a response. Only after he met Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid & Aliyah, and told her about the need for these walkie-talkies, did he receive the equipment.
“Due to government budget constraints, we decided to donate these special radio devices to most of the regional council emergency first response teams along the Gaza border over the past four years, and I remember seeing the excitement in their eyes when they received them,” said Nicole. “After all, these teams carry a great responsibility for their communities in times of crisis. Little did we know then just how critical these devices would turn out to be in the days to come.”
The devices feature medium wave radio technology that can use existing signal towers to send secured messages and alerts to everyone simultaneously in real time. This is more effective than using group chats on cell phones, which have proven too slow and cumbersome to rely upon in times of crisis.
The Christian Embassy has now supplied these same communication devices to most of the regional councils in the Gaza envelope. We recently learned from officials in the Eshkol region that the radio devices helped alert residents of Kibbutz Re’im and saved that kibbutz from being overrun as well.
Amnon sent a letter this week to ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler thanking the organization for the communication equipment. His letter stated:
“There are no words in the human language to express my gratitude, the gratitude of the residents of the regional council and the gratitude of the citizens of the State of Israel to you. There are no words that can express the greatness of your actions and the saving of their lives, which was only possible thanks to them.”
“I was moved to hear about the rescue of the residents thanks to our donation,” responded Dr. Bühler. “The mass terror attacks on October 7 touched the raw nerve of the Holocaust, and as Christians we feel a strong moral duty to stand with Israel in these most difficult times. Millions of Christians all over the world support you and know that your war is also our fight, a war of light versus darkness.”
The ICEJ is continuing to respond to the urgent needs of Israeli communities along the Gaza border and throughout the nation. Please join us in these worthy efforts by giving a generous donation to our Israel in Crisis fund.
Photos courtesy of ICEJ International.