ICEJ bomb shelter for Shlomi
Press Statement by: David Parsons, Vice President & Senior International Spokesman

With tensions rising on Israel’s border with Lebanon due to recent Hizbullah provocations, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is mobilizing to help protect vulnerable towns and villages in northern Israel. This includes placing six new portable bomb shelters and refurbishing 53 existing shelters in the Israeli border town of Shlomi, which took a direct hit from the rocket barrage launched from Lebanon during Passover in April.

Hizbullah leaders view Israel as weakened by the sharp national divide over judicial reforms, leading them to stage a series of open provocations along the Lebanese border that were met with limited responses by Jerusalem. With northern Israel on edge from a potential escalation, local officials are rushing to upgrade existing bomb shelters and add new ones.

A recent government study found that the North sorely lacks adequate shelters for its growing population, especially given Hizbullah’s vast arsenal of over 200,000 missiles, rockets and mortars.

The ICEJ has worked with its partner Operation LifeShield for more than a decade now to supply some 200 bomb shelters so far to vulnerable Israel communities. Most have gone to towns and villages along the Gaza border which face frequent Hamas rocket attacks, but the Christian Embassy also has placed 50 portable shelters in northern Israel already.

ICEJ new bomb shelter in Shlomi
ICEJ new bomb shelter in Shlomi

Thanks to the generosity of a Swiss Christian family, the ICEJ delivered over recent days six new bomb shelters to the town of Shlomi, which was struck by a rocket on the first day of Passover that landed in a busy intersection next to a synagogue and bank. These newest shelters are being placed in public areas to serve the whole community, such as synagogues, playgrounds and kindergartens.

In addition, the ICEJ-USA branch is providing funds to refurbish 53 existing underground shelters in Shlomi. The work will involve sealing water leaks, fixing faulty electrical networks, installing new lighting, water pumps, drainage systems, and fans for improved ventilation, applying fresh coats of paint, and much more.

A town of 9,000 residents which abuts Lebanon, Shlomi has suffered its share of rocket attacks over recent decades. But city officials say the town is not prepared for what is likely to come in a future war with Hizbullah. Rocket alarms in Shlomi give only seconds of warning of incoming short-range mortars. Half the residents still live in apartments in the older part of Shlomi which have no shelters. And while the Israeli government has promised significant funding for more shelters in the North, local officials say little has come so far.

“We sense an urgency to help bolster the civilian defenses of Israel’s northern communities due to the growing threat from Hizbullah and Iran,” said ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “The Christian Embassy has donated portable bomb shelters to dozens of towns and villages along the Gaza border over the years, and now our focus must turn to the North and all the vulnerable Jewish and Arab towns bracing for what may lay ahead.”

“The response by Christian supporters to the call for help by the mayor of Shlomi immediately following the Passover rocket attack was swift and generous,” added Shmuel Bowman, executive director of Operation LifeShield. “Later, when planning the delivery of the ICEJ donated shelters, municipal officials in Shlomi described their utter disbelief at the speed and fulfillment of these shelters.”

“We’re simply not accustomed to asking for something, and then getting it,” explained Asaf Gaveh, Chief of Security for Shlomi.

Photo Credits: Operation LifeShield

For more information, contact:

David Parsons

Vice President & Senior International Spokesman

International Christian Embassy Jerusalem