Operation Lifeshield: Trying to Protect Israel

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The town of Sderot sits on the front lines of rocket attacks from the Gaza strip.

Since 2001, it's been a city under siege and nearly a quarter of the residents have fled.

But Christian organizations are trying to protect residents there.

A Game of 'Gaza Roulette'

Israel's security minister called daily life in Sderot and southern Israel "Gaza roulette." Day by day, Israeli mothers and fathers and their children face death or injury when they go to school, catch a bus or go out to play.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld explained to reporters death comes from just down the street.

"The distance from the Gaza Strip, the north end of the Gaza Strip to Sderot is just 800 meters to the industrial zone and one kilometer to the center of town. So even the smallest of rockets, the 60 millimeter rocket can land and has caused and killed innocent civilians."

When Israel completely pulled out of Gaza in 2005, Israeli leaders believed it would bring peace.

"Well, unfortunately, we've experienced just the opposite and what has taken place is that there's been a larger number of rockets; in fact, four times as the number of rockets have landed since 2005 until the end of 2007," Rosenfeld said.

These rocket attacks have killed 13 people, wounded several hundred, and put thousands more in a state of shock.

Operation Lifeshield

In order to help the people of Sderot and southern Israel, several Christian groups pooled their resources to purchase portable bomb shelters.

"I think what we're doing today is a perfect example of how we as Christians can stand practically at the side of Israel. What we are doing here is providing shelters for people who are standing at bus stations or in the neighborhood of their city and they can run immediately to one of those protected areas which we are providing with the help of Christians from all over the world," Yurgen said.

Earl Cox is the international spokesman for Operation Lifeshield.

"We can't bring peace but we can bring peace of mind to the people of Sderot, the people of Asheklon, those people who live in southern Israel," he said.

Six bomb shelters were recently put in place with a final goal of 57 in all. The idea for Operation Lifeshield came during the second Lebanon war by its founder Josh Adler

"We saw the need for providing shelter, safety, protection, life saving protection to these people in these open public areas, along the main streets, in the parks, in the sports fields and that's how Operation Lifeshield was born," Adler said.

Americans Remain Ignorant

According to a recent survey, 60 percent of Americans know little or nothing about these rocket attacks.

"It's very difficult for people who live in a place like the United States of America where there are no such things as rockets falling out of the sky. To realize what it's like walking down the street and suddenly a siren goes off and you've got thirty seconds to find shelter. Well we came over. We saw that and we talked to the people and I was hooked," Ben Kinchlow said.

A major debate now rages within Israel over why the government can't protect its own citizens.

In the meantime, the number of rocket attacks has recently increased, which means these portable bomb shelters might be more needed than ever.

*Originally aired on February 11, 2008.

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Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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