Terror, mourning and God’s hope: Messianic soldiers grieve after ramming attack

Family and friends mourn at the funeral of IDF Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel, January 09, 2017. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

We experience many cases of terrorism and mourning in our small country, all of which affect us as Israelis and as believers. But sometimes terror strikes closer to home.

On January 8, 2017, another disaster struck our country when a truck driver in Jerusalem sped toward a group of cadets from the IDF officers school killing four. A number of believing soldiers served alongside the victims in various units.

“In this terror attack I lost a dear friend”

One, a friend of Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel, who was killed in the terror attack, shared her perspective with us.

Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel
Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel

“When you enlist in the education unit of the IDF you never think you will need to sacrifice your life for the country. You imagine instead that you will need to sacrifice a lot of yourself for the soldiers, educate the future generation of citizens and assist the new enlistees.

“In this terror attack we lost a dear officer in the IDF education unit who just started the job two months ago.Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel was an information officer for commanders and prepared her officers daily to work in implementing education for her soldiers.

“The reality we live in here in Israel is different. Here, every soldier – it doesn’t matter what his task during his service – is a target. We live in a reality where we have to fight for our existence and our place here, which started during biblical times and continues to this day.

“In this terror attack I lost a dear friend, the IDF lost an exceptional officer and the nation of Israel lost an influential resident that was only trying to improve Israeli society. I pray that God will comfort the families of the fallen and bring healing comfort for the worst pain of all.” 

“it felt like a large knife penetrated my heart”

Debbie, another Messianic IDF soldier who served alongside Shira Tzur, also killed in the terror attack, had been an instructor of Tzur’s.

Shira Tzur
Shira Tzur

“My service as a combat fitness instructor was in an intelligence base that was small and classified. It was so small that we used to call the base a Kibbutz. In almost every session I had I would meet Shira Tzur, who we always recognized by her stunning curls. Shira always came with motivation and a smile that was contagious to those around her.

“I remember when I tested her in her test run before she became an officer; she did such a good job! She ran straight to the goal and swept in with her all those who were with her.

“The few words I exchanged with Shira were always full of joy, charm and a huge desire to reach her goal of becoming an officer in the IDF. I was so glad to hear when she made it to the officers course.

“When the name ‘Shira Tzur’ appeared all over the internet saying she was killed in the terror attack, it felt like a large knife penetrated my heart. I was silent for a couple of minutes while my family were trying to understand what happened. The pain was so strong and I couldn’t stop the tears.

“My boyfriend and I stopped and prayed for all the families that lost their dear children that day.”

Over the years, several believers across Israel have perished in terror attacks or wars. In 1993, three months after he finished the officers course in the army, Zohar Halamish was killed in the line of duty from Hezbollah fire. In 2003, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus in Haifa. Some 60 people were injured and 17 killed, including 14-year-old Avigail Litle who was on her way home from school. In 2014, Sgt. Shay Kushnir, a combat soldier in the army’s Barak unit, was killed in action by mortar fire during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

God reminds us that we live in a sinful world yet in Him we have peace, hope and eternal life.

“For sin’s payment is death, but God’s gracious gift is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” – Romans 6:23