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Israel & Christians Today

Biblical understanding about Israel

November 10, 2016

Story of Love

Sunset in Be'eri forest, less than one kilometre from the Gaza strip. Everything looks quiet and peaceful. It is the 8th of November, 2016. In a couple of months the entire woodland soil will be covered with red anemone flowers. Hard to imagine that two years ago the ground here was turned upside down by tanks, blood, shooting and war during military operation Tzuk Eitan (Protective Edge aftermath).

Exactly here on this place was the unveiling of a memorial in honor of a Dutch Israeli Christian soldier who lost his life for Israel. Yonatan Vermeulen. He was killed on the 28th of December 2000 when called to dismantle a road-side bomb near the Sufa crossing in the Gaza Strip. In a carefully planned ambush, the terrorists apparently waited for soldiers and sappers to gather around the first bomb and then detonated a second bomb planted nearby, possibly by remote control, killing Vermeulen on the spot. He was 29 years old.

Yonatan Vermeulen was born in Holland. He came to Israel with his parents at age four after the Yom Kippur War, and settled in the village Nes Amim. When his parents returned to the Netherlands, Yonatan chose to stay in Israel. He wrote to the Queen of the Netherlands requesting an exemption from service in the Dutch army, which was granted, because of his strong identification with Israel. He began his service in the IDF in 1993, and in 1996 he joined the police anti-terror squad. Two years later, he was already a member of the Border Police sappers unit in the Gaza Strip.

Many years ago the picture of a small blond boy planting a tree was spread all over the world by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (Jewish National Fund), inviting people to plant trees in the land of Israel. The boy on the picture was Yonatan. Today in 2016 Keren Kayemeth planted trees in his honor.

"When we decide to be sappers, we come to this profession with our eyes wide open, prepared to do anything. To do almost anything. But for some things you cannot be prepared. One of them is to lose a friend" - said Yoram, friend of Yonatan Vermeulen. Every year his friends and family members come here – for a friend, a son, a brother, a soldier, a lover of Israel.

Orly Wolstein
'First Home in the Homeland'
Projectmanager Jewish Agency for Israel 

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