Bogus Israel Email Goes 'Viral'

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- A recent email claiming "massive troop movements" within Israel and "anti-aircraft missile deployments throughout the Jerusalem area" has spread rapidly throughout the Internet.    

The email appears authentic but makes several misleading and false claims about present-day conditions in Israel.  A closer look at the situation throughout Israel and in Jerusalem exposes a well-written hoax, one that initially fooled some people. The full text is provided below.

The email describes Israel making hurried pre-war preparations and presents a variety of situations prior to an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. 

The information supposedly comes from a "reliable source."  The hoaxer begins by saying he received a call from his "Christian brother…a minister and former navy SEAL" who lived 20 plus years in Jerusalem "close to one of Israel's largest underground military bases." 

He makes the following claims:

"… he is seeing with his own eyes military movements the likes of which he has never seen in his 20+ years in Israel."

"… he has seen anti-aircraft missile deployments throughout the Jerusalem area, including three mobile units that he can see from his office windows."

"… he has seen very large Israeli armored columns moving fast toward the Sinai, where Egypt has now moved in Armor."

Based on these alarming reports, he "… is sending his family back to the U.S. immediately due to what he is seeing happen …." 

The Israeli media, however, which is always eager to pounce on any major story like this, has not reported any such military maneuvers. The Israel Defense Forces confirmed to CBN News that no major military activity has taken place. Furthermore after traveling to both the Egyptian/Israeli and Syrian/Israeli borders recently, CBN News saw no such major troop movements.   
 
The author also describes seeing hundreds of IDF soldiers at the Western Wall and "at least 20 busloads of soldiers" en route there. If he did, the soldiers most likely were participating in traditional swearing-in ceremonies at Judaism's holy site, a regular occurrence at the Western Wall plaza. In addition, Jerusalem residents who live here know there are no anti-aircraft missile deployments throughout the city nor "… three mobile units that he [they] can see from his [their] office windows."  A recent communication between local clergy also could not identify any "minister" who fits the description in the email.    

Following the email hoax, Samuel Smadja, founder of Sar El Tours, one of the largest tour companies in Israel, released a statement dismissing its claims.  He reported a robust tourist season and declared,
 
It is then with great surprise that we returned to the office this morning with inquiries and concerns about the current 'situation' and safety regarding travel in Israel at this time.  What we can tell you is that in addition to the literally thousands of tourists from outside of Israel, the roads were clogged with Israelis traveling and visiting family and friends over the holiday.  It is reported that we had over a quarter of a million Israelis enjoying our National Parks, having a good time and taking advantage of the mid-week holiday.  The Western Wall has been and continues to be crowded with visitors: civilians and soldiers who continue to pray there during this important season for the Jewish people.  We look forward to more visitors with us for the Feast of Tabernacles and all those scheduled to visit throughout the rest of the year.

Barry Segal of the Joseph Storehouse and JNN News also released the following statement: 
 
That you may be forewarned, we are forwarding a rapidly mushrooming but misinformed report that is being echoed on the Internet and via various prayer ministries. It conveys an urgent message that massive redeployment and protective tactics of forces in Israel are underway in preparation for an imminent military encounter with Iran.   In some cases appeals are being made for money based on this update.  Under conditions of this magnitude, there would normally be confirming witnesses from sources inside Israel such as public local reports (from Hebrew speakers), and the civil defense or the media. There have been no independent military, news media or other official channels to verify, confirm or even mention what is being claimed.  On behalf of JNN News, we share our comments with you and ask that you pray this unconfirmed email report with far-reaching damaging ramifications will be quickly ended.  People should not be compelled to give based on false rumors, emotional hearsay or misguided information. News like this also has an effect possibly on Christian tourists coming to Israel. They should come unless otherwise cautioned by the Israeli government.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly, a nuclear Iran presents an existential threat not only to Israel but to the world. The Israeli government and the Israeli public are preparing for the possibility of a war with Iran and its allies, Hezbollah and Syria.  Gas masks are being distributed to the public. The Israeli military is training and even recently held a major military exercise on the Golan Heights.  Yet, the current atmosphere in Israel and reality on the ground stands in stark contrast to the alarming and sensationalist tone in this email. 

Winston Churchill once said, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."  This latest incident should serve as a wakeup call to carefully scrutinize information, particularly in matters pertaining to Israel. 

Upon learning of the hoax, a Christian in America wrote CBN News Jerusalem Bureau, "It's a sad day when everything you read needs to go through 18 layers of truth finding.  Remember when a man's word was gold and a handshake was as good as a signed contract?" 

"We are fortunate to have easy and immediate access to news; however, the ease of being anonymous seems to also brings out the worst in people," she continued. "Israel is always in my prayers."

Below is the full text:

My Christian brother and his family live in Jerusalem -- he is a minister -- and a former Navy SEAL -- his office is close to one of Israel's largest underground military bases. 

He called me last night, which is very unusual -- usually it is email. 

He called to tell me that he is sending his family back to the US immediately due to what he is seeing happen within the last week and what he is being told by his military contacts in both the Israeli and US military. 

He said he is seeing with his own eyes military movements the likes of which he has never seen in his 20+ years in Israel. 

What he called a massive redeployment and protective tactics of forces is underway. 

Over the last two days, he has seen anti-aircraft missile deployments throughout the Jerusalem area, including three mobile units that he can see from his office windows. 

In addition, he has seen very large Israeli armored columns moving fast toward the Sinai, where Egypt has now moved in Armor. 

There are reports of the top military leaders meeting with Israel 's Sr. Rabi, which is something that has happened preceding every prior military campaign. 

His admonition is to watch carefully and pray for Israel and its people. 

He is convinced that, barring something extraordinary, Israel will attack Iran -- with or without the US -- and very soon. 

It is the belief in Israel that Obama does not stand with Israel, but with the Arab countries. 

He has told me before that Israel will saber rattle from time to time, but that this time is very different from what he is seeing and hearing. He was at the Wailing Wall 2 days ago and there were hundreds of IDF soldiers there. As he was leaving, he passed at least 20 military buses full of soldiers in route to the wall. 

He has never seen this before either. 

Just thought I would pass this along.  My brother is not an alarmist, by any means. 

When he talks like this, it gets my attention for sure and usually I find he knows more than he shares.  There are reports that Israel is asking Obama to come to Israel immediately but they are being answered with silence.

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Chris Mitchell and Tzippe Barrow

Chris Mitchell and Tzippe Barrow

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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