Shavuot 2021 and Situation in Israel

Dear friends, colleagues and supporters of JCBT!

Thank you for your many prayers and messages.
So many of you have been asking about ‘our peace’, the Hebrew expression for ‘how are you?’. JCBT is doing well, by the grace of God.

JCBT work goes on. The 2021 JCBT/ Rothberg School Heb. Univ study program for consultants is delivered by zoom to 7 different locations in the world. Most are national consultants. In just 2 weeks from now the 5 consecutive one-month lecture courses on the Hebrew text of the Bible are over. To our delight, most are national consultants, who will have a great impact on language projects in their areas. The Historical Geography course has been postponed to  September – due to Korona travel restrictions.

Re the war with Gaza: JCBT is located in Judean hills in Yad Hasmonah and  Mevasseret above the coastal plains where Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Beer Sheba are located. There was one barrage of 7 missiles sent toward the hills.  It all started on Jerusalem Day, May 10. We heard the sudden siren in the office and then heard the missile hit the ground in a village just a few km away. A strange feeling, someone wants to hurt you. Thankfully it has been quiet ever since. However, all of south and central Israel, with its major cities and nearby big and small communities have been experiencing almost uninterrupted assault of missiles for the last 6 days and nights. Over 2,300 missiles or more have been sent toward Israel’s civilian centers with death and destruction in mind. Obviously, daily life has stopped in those communities. Families huddle in the safety rooms or corridors. Many of the deadly missiles are intercepted by Iron Dome, a few fall within Gaza territory, but many destroy homes in the targeted areas somewhere within the most populated center area of Israel – and some kill civilians, the aim of Hamas, a terrorist organization. The reason for relatively low civilian casualties is the fact Iron Dome intercepted the missiles and that most modern homes in Israel have safety rooms to which one is to flee within 20 – 60 seconds depending on the distance from Gaza. There have been 10 people killed on the Israeli side and some hundreds wounded.

Israel has responded to the missiles which deliberately target its citizens, by sending its airforce to attempt to stop the Hamas missiles by destroying the places from which they are sent, the tunnels where most of Hamas activity and arms are located, their offices and infrastructure – and the leaders themselves.

Of the 145 killed in Gaza most belong to Hamas personnel of different levels, but there have been also innocent civilians including 45  children. Contrary to Hamas, Israel does not target civilians. It warns the people in the buildings in advance, when it plans to destroy the Hamas offices there, otherwise, there would have been a huge amount of civilian casualties. As is constantly respected In the Israeli media, the Israeli public is concerned about civilians, especially for the children. The aim is to remove the terrorist leadership and its infrastructure – rocket launching pads first and then the rocket factories and Hamas leadership.

The issue between Israel and Hamas and the Moslems within Israel (20% of Israel’s citizens) is a religious issue basically between Islam’s claims and Jewish claims. It flares up especially during the Moslem holy month of Ramadan when Moslems neither eat or drink during daylight hours. This time the spark had to do with legally Jewish-owned owned property rented by Arabs for years which the Jewish owners now wanted back, and they were supported by the high court. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is another point of contention. That is the place where the temple stood in Jesus’ time until 70 AD. The Moslem mosque has been standing there since 691 AD. The religious feelings are now high among extreme groups among both the Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. The extremists are committing atrocities that have never been done within the country. The Israeli government is now in the process of taking control of the ethnic violence in Israeli cities.

Countering against the wave of hatred are the large demonstrations of the show of solidarity and unity between Arab and Israeli citizens in different locations in Israel,  in Haifa, Tivon and near our neighboring Arab village Abu Gosh when 1500 people from Arab and Jewish communities showed up to express unity and good relationships between the communities.

The Israeli hospitals are full of Arab nurses and doctors. Our daughter works in one and the friendship and appreciation is genuine. They serve the patients of both communities with equal devotion, for example during the stressful year of Korona in the country.

In sum, we at JCBT are doing well. We are looking forward to welcoming our 2021 students at the airport here for the Historical Geography course in September, God willing!

Dear friends, we are coworkers in a battle for good and justice in the world based on the message of the Bible and our Lord’s words: “You are to love your God with all your heart, all your soul and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself!”

Thank you for covering Israel and Gaza with your prayers!

Halvor and Mirja Ronning

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