Pacific Island Pilgrims find shelter in Israel after terrorist attack

Christian Pilgrims in Israel have been evacuated into Israeli bomb shelters amid terrorist attacks on the country by Hamas.

By Viliame Tawanakoro

250 Christian Pilgrims who arrived in Israel last week to participate in the Feast of Tabernacles celebrations were evacuated yesterday (7th October 2023) into Israeli bomb shelters amid terrorist attacks on the country by Hamas.

Pastor Manasa Kolivuso, Head of Delegation, assured safety from Jerusalem via Facebook Live broadcast, along with the recorded message from other delegates.

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“We are safe. We are secure, and of course, God is watching over us and the state of Israel,” he said.

“We have stayed put in a hotel and following security protocols that are required of us in emergencies like this one here.”

“I want to offer encouragement and assurance to our family members in Fiji and worldwide who may be concerned about us during this time. We appreciate your prayers for us and the state of Israel,” Mr Kolivuso added.

 International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) Fiji’s National Director, Pastor Mikaele Mudreilagi, stated,

‘Yes, there were explosions that happened in Israel.”

“In some areas of Gaza and closer to Tel Aviv, there were some disruptions to flights, and of course, as per the normal security situation, we had to take shelter in the security bunkers.”

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Paramount Chief Ro Teimumu Kepa, a former Member of the Parliament of Fiji who was also part of the delegation, shares, “We want to assure everyone that we are safe here in Israel. Israel has one of the world’s best defence systems, and we firmly believe that God is in control.”

Former Fiji MP, Paramount Chief Ro Teimumu Kepa (Second from Left), with other Fijian Pilgrims in Israel. Photo: RoTeimumuMP Facebook Page (Picture taken before the terror attack)

“There’s nothing to worry about. We’re so relaxed that we’re considering having a bowl of Kava, but unfortunately, we don’t have a “Tanoa” Kava Bowl.’ Instead, we’ll settle for tea, bread, or something similar if they call us back to the shelter. That’s how at ease we are.”

“We trust in God’s protection and send blessings to all of you back home.”

Among the Delegates to Israel, Fiji Assistant Minister of Education Iliesa Vanawalu stated, “I just saw the news before I checked out of the hotel I was in. Israel is now right in a state of war with Hamas. So we do not know what will unfold in the next few days, but it’s all in God’s hands.”

Fiji’s Assistant Education Minister, Iliesa Vanawalu, Reassures the Safety of the Fijian Delegation in Israel via Recorded Message. Photo: Video Snip 

“But that should not stop you if you consider coming to Israel next year. I mean, this is part and parcel of living in Israel. So it’s nothing new.”

“Just to let you know, we were in a kibbutz two days ago. That’s where the attacks began at 6.30 am this morning, and unfortunately, the mayor of that kibbutz, one of our speakers, died tragically this morning,” Mr Vanawalu said.

He said it touched his heart and was a bit emotional about that, but that is just the situation in Israel.

The Samoan Delegates have also confirmed their safety on their Facebook Page, stating, “We are staying indoors in Jerusalem today (yesterday) after a barrage of rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip.”

“We also received advice early this morning (yesterday), advising all Fijian and Samoan Feast Pilgrims to “stay in their hotels and restrict movements.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “Israel is at war” in a Twitter post following Hamas’s sudden and devastating terrorist attack on Saturday.

Contributing Author: Viliame Tawanakoro hails from Fiji and is currently part of a student exchange program between the University of the South Pacific and Western Sydney University. Viliame is undertaking an internship at The Australia Today as part of his academic and professional growth.