ICEJ Feast 2022 Day 8 Highlights

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem concluded its week-long Feast of Tabernacles celebration on Sunday (October 16) with a solidarity visit to the western Negev to show support for Israeli communities living under constant rocket threat along the Gaza border area and a tree-planting ceremony with Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel (KKL/JNF) to reflect the ICEJ’s commitment to the security and re-greening of the western Negev region.

Over 700 Christians from 50 nations around the world took part in a solidarity rally held in the spacious courtyard of the Sha’ar HaNegev high school, located on the campus of Sapir College. Ofir Libshtein, mayor of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, warmly welcomed the Christian visitors and thanked them for their support. KKL/JNF officials Ronnie Vinnikov and Elisha Mizrahi also were among the speakers, while several Christian musical and dance teams from Fiji, Germany and the Philippines performed for the mixed Jewish-Christian audience. As the solidarity rally ended, the ICEJ delegates also released 1,000 blue and white balloons as “prays for peace” in the Gaza border region.

The program also highlighted the Christian Embassy’s numerous assistance projects for Israeli towns and villages in the Gaza envelope. This includes ICEJ’s donation of 140 portable bomb shelters and two dozen fire-fighting vehicles over recent years to help these Israeli communities deal with the constant threat of rockets and arson balloons from Gaza. The ICEJ also is partnering with KKL to plant protective hedges and re-forest burned areas in the Gaza periphery.

“This is an amazing and wonderful place to live 95 percent of the time,” Mayor Libshtein told the Christian visitors. “But there is five percent of the time when it´s not easy to live here… All the people who live here suffer from post-, post-, post-trauma. When someone just closes the door, then you jump. It is not easy to live here like this… It is like you have two stories. One story is this is a beautiful place – but the second story, it´s not an easy one.

“Thank you so much ICEJ for your partnership to provide us with bomb shelters and fire-fighting equipment and all the other things to make our lives safer,” he added.

“The Sha’ar HaNegev region is an example to the whole world of how to deal with crises, as residents of this area have stood up to the constant threat of rockets from Gaza,” ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler told the gathering. “The way the local population has doubled in the past decade, despite the threats, points to the extraordinary perseverance and crisis management of the local communities here. We find this same positive spirit all over Israel, but we especially wanted to bring our Christian pilgrims here, not only to show solidarity with these vulnerable towns and villages, but also to be encouraged that they too can overcome the many crises facing their parts of the world.”

“In many ways, our partners at KKL-JNF have been exhibiting this spirit of hope and renewal for decades, as they have helped turn Israel from a barren desert into a green, flourishing land,” Dr. Bühler added. “So, this rally also marked a reaffirmation of our teamwork with KKL to re-green this area after years of arson balloons from Gaza and to bolster the region’s security measures with tree lines that act as visual barriers from the terror threat of Hamas rocket squads.”

A special VIP tour of Feast delegates also visited Kibbutz Kissufim to dedicate one of the new protective hedges being sponsored by the ICEJ to prevent Gaza terror militias from having a direct line-of-sight into the roads and villages near the border.

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