Some 70 pastors from 18 countries visited Israel this week to see traces of the devastation of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attacks at Kibbutz Nir Oz and in a parking lot with 1,300 burned-out cars.
“The yard with piles of burned-out, rusted cars felt almost sacred, since so many of them once contained Israelis whose lives were so brutally cut short,” said David Parsons, vice president and senior spokesman of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which sponsored the trip.
Gerald McDermott, a scholar and Anglican priest, stated that the group “saw the face of radical evil,” and what results “when human beings become dehumanized and treat others as less than human.”
The group saw an abandoned dining hall filled with broken glass and rotting food at the kibbutz, where they also visited the home of Kfir Bibas, the youngest hostage in Gaza, who turned 1 year old earlier this month. The group saw the child’s baby bouncer and his brother’s bicycle and toys outside the house.
The group is slated to meet with Knesset members and families of hostages and to tour Israel’s border with Lebanon.
“It’s been very difficult being a South African with the present situation in our country,” stated Vivienne Myburgh, national director of ICEJ South Africa. “There’s a lot of denial that things like this happened, and that’s part of the reason why I came. It’s really powerful to be able to say: ‘I was there. I saw the homes. I spoke to the people that were involved.’”
“There’s absolutely no way this was some fake social media imagery, which some people shockingly imply,” Myburgh added. “I now have so much good information to go back and fight for this important cause.”
On Wednesday, American Christian Leaders for Israel—a project of ICEJ’s U.S. branch—is organizing a joint mission of rabbis and pastors which plans to ask Congress to further support Israel. (Israel Allies Foundation, the Zionist Rabbinic Coalition, Eagles’ Wings, the Jerusalem Connection Report and the National Hispanic Pastors Alliance are also organizing the mission.)
“This joint mission of Jewish and Christian leaders is coming at a critical time as Israel’s war to eliminate Hamas—a threat to the entire freedom-loving world—continues,” stated Jordanna McMillan, U.S. director of the Israel Allies Foundation.
“These leaders will be speaking out for the Israelis still held hostage and encourage our members of Congress to give Israel the aid it needs to win this battle against evil,” McMillan added. “We have all watched the disruptive, and at times violent, protests against Israel and attacks on Jews worldwide, and this faith-based advocacy effort reaffirms to our nation’s political leaders the breadth and depth of American support for Israel.”
Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York added that the group is coming to the U.S. capital “because supporting Israel in her war with Hamas is an American issue and an issue for all people of goodwill.”
“Never before have rabbis and pastors gone to Congress to lobby together,” he said. “It is happening today, as Americans are increasingly concerned that Iran and her proxies are threatening the very existence of a key American ally.”