On Saturday, Oct. 7, thirty-six of us were in a Dallas hotel, packed and ready to go to DFW Airport for our trip to Israel. Then, we heard the news which told of the Hamas attack in the Gaza Strip and south part of Israel.
Our leader included us in a conference call with the man in charge at NAWAS International Travel. He said if the attacks stayed in the south end of Israel, we would be okay. Our leader also contacted our guide in Jerusalem. He was leading a group from Turkey on a tour of the Via Dolorosa. He said nothing had happened in Jerusalem, which is in the middle of the country. He also thought the problem would most likely remain in the Gaza Strip area. We needed to make our own decisions about going or forgoing the trip. A few cautious people in our group backed out. Most, including myself, decided to go ahead with the trip. We flippantly said, "If we die, what place could be closer to heaven than Israel?"
At 11 am, we semi-adventurous types boarded shuttle vans, went to the airport, and lugged our bags to the ticketing counter. Our fearless leader was just getting started when the American Airlines check-in officers received notice that all air travel to Israel was cancelled until further notice. God's timing is always perfect.
Shortly, we went our separate ways. Some sought AA travel back to their home cities. Others made their own different plans. Two friends and I loaded my car, had lunch at Pappadeaux's Restaurant, and drove back to Amarillo.
The Israeli Jews had celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles last week, Sept. 30 - Oct. 6, followed by the Eighth Day of Assembly/Sabbath, Saturday, Oct. 7. Sunday, Oct. 8, was the Rejoicing of the Torah. The Hamas attack began on Saturday afternoon, a few hours before the end of Sabbath.
The Israelites acted as soon as Sabbath was over. Shortly after 7 pm their time, 11 am in Texas, retaliation began. Israel also discouraged any travel into its country. They advised everyone, including their visitors, to seek "shelter in place."
The Hamas attack was by land, air, and sea. Within a few hours, Hamas militants sailed through the Mediterranean Sea to Tel Aviv where the international airport is located. Militants attacked and gunned down civilians in the streets and after barging into their homes. They also took many captives including civilians and Israeli soldiers.
Sunday, Israel's Security Cabinet formally declared "war," meaning the military campaign could be "lengthy, intense, and significant." While Israel concentrated on defeating Hamas in southern Israel and the Gaza strip, Lebanon's Hezbollah militants wormed their way into the battle by striking from the north.
Betty M Reeves