Omar Yanez was practically shaken out of bed on the morning of Oct. 7 by the siren alarms that were blaring outside his apartment in Jerusalem.
Yanez, who earned his master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is in Jerusalem to study the Hebrew language, said he had no idea what was happening.
“My roommate told me rockets are coming to the city,” he said. “We saw maybe eight or 10 of them from the patio. We also saw how they were hit by the air defense in Israel, the (Iron) Dome (Israel’s sophisticated Air Defense System). We saw that and didn’t have a place to run.”
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Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israel last weekend. In the attack, Hamas sent thousands of rockets and armed forces into Israel. The death toll has risen to more than 1,200 in Israel with at least 2,700 injured, according to media reports.
Yanez, who is from Peru, said he and his roommate went to the downstairs apartment where two other friends lived. “We didn’t know what to do,” he said. “That moment was kind of scary. It (the missiles) stopped, and we didn’t have any more missiles until today (Monday).”
Saturday’s assault was the worst breach of Israel’s defense systems since armies from Arab states attacked in 1973, touching off the three-week long Yom Kippur War.
“Before all this happened, everybody was just partying,” he said. “People were not thinking about protecting the country,” Yanez said. It was the last day of the Jewish High Holiday Season.
One of the incoming missiles hit a Muslim mosque, he said. Most businesses were closed along with the schools. The school where he is learning the Hebrew language was supposed to start Tuesday, but it was cancelled.
Yanez, 42, said his long-range goal is to plant a seminary in Peru and teach. For now, though, he said he is a little on edge with all that is happening. It has been a time of fear and confusion — as well as displays of loyalty. He said many Israeli citizens are leaving to go to war.
Yanez said, meanwhile, he is trusting in the Lord.
“God has his plan. He brought me here. He has a reason and I’m trying to be open to that.”