“A land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” (Deuteronomy 11:12)
Over the more than month long Operation Protective Edge conflict between Hamas terrorists and the IDF, a strikingly few number of civilian casualties have been suffered on the Israeli side.
Over 3,356 rockets have been fired at Israel, with that number rising everyday, and only four people have been killed as a result of rocket fire. While Israel’s Iron Dome is a wonder to behold and responsible for maintaining the safety of Israeli civilians from rocket fire, the numbers show that only 578 rockets were destroyed by Iron Dome Interceptions, or roughly 17 percent of all rockets fired at Israel.
Simple statistics show that there is something extraordinary occurring here.
Whether one chooses to believe that providence is behind the overwhelming number of misfired rockets or not, one must admit that the number of casualties should in theory be higher. After all, Hamas is quite experienced when it comes to rocket fire at Israel, having more than 14 years of experience.
Combine the above observation with the somewhat historical and biblical outlook of the Israeli public and military, and one is bound to come away with a viewpoint that at the very least recognizes the possibility of divine protection or intervention, thus setting the stage for the myriad of ‘bonafide’ stories telling of divine intervention sprouting forth like wildfire on social media networks in Israel.
Stories abound of mystical beings visiting soldiers while on duty in and around the Gaza strip and warning them of entering booby-trapped houses or buildings filled with explosives. These spirits prevent the soldiers from entering houses that were later to be found out had been booby-trapped and if entered would mean instant death for the soldiers.
Others tell of gusts of wind that blew rockets aimed at major population center off course after the Iron Dome counter-attack had failed numerous times. Some stories tell of good deeds done by the soldiers that had saved their lives such prayer or making a blessing upon food.
What these stories often have in common is an allocation of “hearing the story from the source first hand”, often from a close relative, former student, acquaintance or other relation who has returned from the war-torn Strip, but lacking a name.
When stories, even from multiple sites are looked into, the source often vanishes into air thinner than that of the supposed apparition. Another commonality is that almost all of these stories begin as Whatsapp conversations (text messaging) to groups or individuals and are spread like wildfire on social media networks without any other corroboration.
One story was traced back to an Ultra-Orthodox high school teacher who claimed that a former student of his, who is the commander of an Iron Dome battery told him that the hand of God blew a Hamas rocket that was aimed at the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv, into the sea after the Iron Dome failed to intercept the rocket three times. The story, like many others, was rife with inaccuracies regarding the technical operation of the IDF thus casting doubt upon the story’s authenticity.
A online newspaper that picked up on the story wrote as follows:
“I witnessed this miracle with my own eyes. It was not told or reported to me. I saw the hand of God send that missile into the sea.” -Iron Dome Battery Commander
An earlier, unconfirmed report floating around the Internet had a Gaza resident attributing the lack of Hamas accuracy to Israel’s God moving the rockets off-course to protect His people.
“We do aim [our rockets], but their God changes their path in mid-air,” a Hamas commander was said to have told someone who wondered why Gaza-based militants can’t seem to hit their targets.
Whether or not that report is [true], an Iron Dome operator whose battery failed three times to down an incoming missile headed toward Tel Aviv last week, said the overall assessment is [accurate].”
“Suddenly, Iron Dome (which calculates wind speeds, among other things) shows a major wind coming from the east, a strong wind that…sends the missile into the sea. We were all stunned. I stood up and shouted, ‘There is a God!”
Another story includes a commander claiming that God’s clouds of glory covered his soldiers.
Also last week, a commander of the Givati Infantry Brigade described a mysterious fog that favorably covered him and his troops as they advanced on an enemy position in morning light, after their nighttime raid was postponed. The commander labeled the covering as “clouds of glory.”
There are many such stories traveling around the web. Some are fantastical, while others are more plausible. One even has a picture of a bullet being fired at a soldier and being stopped by a hand-grenade that the soldier had in his vest. The grenade miraculously did not explode.
In true Israeli fashion the soldiers themselves have begun picking up on this trend of miraculous storytelling and have begun jokingly creating new ones. One online forum member who claimed to have also been serving in Gaza wrote:
“A soldier friend who came out of Gaza told me today that his squad arrived at a house in Suja’iya and an old woman came to them and told them that she was the Biblical Rachel and that the house was set with explosives. So they went into the next house. They slept there all night, and upon waking in the morning realized that in actuality the woman was Leah.”
This story spoofs one that is similar from the Second Lebanon War: “An old woman dressed as an Arab went up to a bunch of soldiers in Gaza, and told them that a certain house contained bombs and missiles. The soldiers located the house, defused the bombs and destroyed the missiles. When the soldiers asked the woman what her name was she said ‘Rachel’ and then disappeared.”
The desire to believe these stories and find inspiration in them has become very common among those who seek out the hand of God in everyday events. The desire to poke fun at them has become equally as great by those who wish to use humor as a protective shield to soften the seriousness of the conflict here at home.
But whether these uncorroborated stories may be true or whether they are false, one thing can be said for certain; the unusually low numbers in Israeli civilian casualties, is beyond surprising, and may very well point to some divine providence involved in protecting the lives of IDF soldiers as well as Israeli civilians.
Here are some of the more popular stories being circulated:
God’s Special Messenger
At a synagogue in Israel this week, a soldier who just returned from Gaza told this beautiful story. He and his army unit identified the home of a wanted Hamas terrorists, and made all of the arrangements to go and arrest him. They arrived at his house, hiding and undercover, early in the morning. They were about to enter the house, but then they saw a dove hovering overhead, which seemed very strange. They all stopped to watch the dove, and he landed on a tiny little string. A second after he landed on the string, the entire house blew up. The house was booby trapped, and the string was connected to the door. If the soldiers would have entered the house, they all would have been killed. God sends His messengers in all different shapes.
A Soldier’s Personal Miracle
Two days ago when we went into the field, I asked my commander if I could take some sweets with me into Gaza that civilians sent us from all over the country and he agreed. I took a package of chocolate filled cookies (Argaliot). After a day and a half of fighting with minimal amounts of food, we were enclosed in a house and I recalled that I had cookies packed with my gear. I opened up the box and saw a note in it from a young kid. It was written in exactly these words: “I know that you are protecting me, and this is a small token of my appreciation to you. I am still young, but I have one request, that you say a blessing over the food”. The secular soldier did not know how to make a blessing over the food, but another soldier there who was his friend and was religious was in another corner of the house. The soldier crawled towards his religious friend to ask him what blessing to say and how to say it. When he was done saying the blessing, there was a HUGE explosion. An RPG rocket was shot and exploded exactly in the place he had been just a moment before crawling to his friend. The soldier was wounded, but only with a few minor scratches. The soldier broke out with a heartfelt cry.
Man of Fire
A group of soldiers were investigating a building when the two rear-guards saw an old man who stood between them and their compatriots. The old man opened his mouth and fire came out of it, and then he disappeared. The soldiers called to their friends to retreat. Immediately upon leaving the building it exploded.
Israel, Hear My Cries!
A soldier coming out of Gaza reported that a woman approached their platoon and was about to blow herself up. the soldiers realizing the imminent doom, screamed out Shema Yisrael, upon which the women stopped where she was, put down the detonator, and told the soldiers that she was actually Jewish, but married an Arab man and was brought to Gaza against her will. The soldiers there upon disarmed the bomb, took her and her children to safety somewhere in Israel.