The vast majority of Americans support Israel’s war against terror, a Good Will Ambassador from Israel to Jewish and Christian communities told hundreds of IDF soldiers.
Last Thursday, approximately 450 IDF soldiers stationed along the border with Gaza enjoyed a lavish catered barbecue organized by Earl Cox, a leading Christian supporter of Israel.
Cox, an international broadcaster and journalist, had been recognized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a Good Will Ambassador from Israel to the Jewish and Christian communities around the world. He was also named the Voice of Israel to America by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Not only did the soldiers enjoy the food, which was first-class, but they were clearly moved by the warmth and appreciation shown for their courageous defense of the State of Israel and for fighting, according to Cox, “the world’s war on terror.”
A busload of participants, including a number of volunteers, joined the pro-Israel activist on the trip to the South, which included a stop at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon and in Sderot, where they met Mayor Alon Davidi and a group of close to 50 elderly residents, among them Holocaust survivors. The seniors had been treated by Cox to five days and four nights of respite at a Jerusalem hotel, including transportation and guided tours. That trip, in fact, is but a small example of his vast philanthropic work.
Near the Border, Staying at Home was ‘Impossible’
Located approximately 12 kilometers from the Gaza border, Ashkelon has been bombarded by “thousands and thousands of rockets” for the last 12 years, Dr. Ron Luval, deputy head of Barzilai, told the visitors.
In the last four weeks alone, during Operation Protective Edge, 3,200 rockets hit the area.
The day of the visit happened to fall during a 72-hour ceasefire. The previous night was the first time in three weeks that Luval and his wife had slept at home – situated close to the border – instead of at the hospital.
“It was impossible to sit at home for even an hour,” Luval said. When he returned home on Wednesday evening, “it wasn’t easy. The mirrors and water pipes were broken and nobody wanted to come there to fix it.”
Roughly 30 percent of rockets aimed at southern Israel fall in Palestinian-controlled areas, the doctor said; 50 percent land in rural areas, but the remaining 20 percent are the “main issue.”
The Rutenberg Power Station in southern Ashkelon, for instance, supplies electricity for civilians on both sides of the border, he explained. The desalination plant is the newest thermal power station in Israel, supplying drinking and irrigation water.
Most rockets aimed at densely populated areas are shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system, he said, adding that each time the cost is approximately $50,000.
Entire Communities Live with Trauma
There were 28 deaths in 12 years, Dr. Luval said. “We mourn every casualty, but it’s the average number of traffic accidents in one weekend.”
However, there are thousands of people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. “Entire communities live with it,” he said.
Luval also discussed the challenging logistics for staff and patients coping with constant missile attacks.
Regarding the security check of each vehicle arriving on the premises, including ambulances, the policy exists because there were approximately 20 cases in the last few years of attempted smuggling of explosions into the hospital, which treats many patients from Gaza.
The group proceeded to visit wounded soldiers. Indeed, there has been “so much warmth and love and gifts” from people across the country and from overseas, Luval said.
The staff at Barzilai includes several Arab-Israeli doctors and department heads “working side by side” with their Jewish colleagues, he added.
At the army base, Cox, who had served in senior-level positions in the administrations of four American presidents, told the soldiers that it is only “a small minority” in the U.S. who are against Israel. “The vast majority of Americans are with you, despite what you read. They know you are fighting our war.”
“If you were my son, I couldn’t love you more,” he added. “You’re doing what any civilized country would do.”
Author: Atara Beck
Senior Writer/Editor, United with Israel