Ofir Libstein, mayor of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, was killed during an exchange of fire with terrorists while defending his community from terrorists that infiltrated Israeli territory.
Libstein participated in the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ) tree planting ceremony near the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council high school just yesterday, where he welcomed over 600 Evangelical Christians who had come to show support for the southern region.
During his welcome, Libstein thanked the Christian attendees for their support, saying, “We are here just three kilometers from the border with Gaza. The people who live here in Sha’ar HaNegev, we are keeping the Land of Israel. We are keeping the border with the Gaza Strip.”
Libstein directly thanked the Christian community for their support, especially with the construction of bomb shelters via the ICEJ’s bomb shelter project.
“We have doubled our population in the last 10 years, and everything is with your help,” Libstein said.
“With your help, we feel safety here. With your shelters that you help us to buy and to put here in the area, we live better lives. And I promise to do everything to keep the Land of Israel, the keep the land of this area, and to build it stronger and stronger. I am so happy to see you from all over the world that have come to see this beautiful place. Thank you very much.”
The ICEJ released a statement mourning Libstein’s passing, calling him “our friend.”
“Ofir Libstein indeed kept his promise to keep the Land of Israel and the Sha’ar HaNegev region, but sadly it came at the cost of his life. His words and his memory will remain with us forever,” the statement read.
“The ICEJ roundly condemns this evil and horrendous assault on Israel on a Jewish high holy day by Hamas and its patrons in Iran. We have urged Christians worldwide to pray for Israel’s safety, and we will redouble our efforts to stand with Israel by delivering more bomb shelters to vulnerable communities.”
The ICEJ has called for an urgent global prayer event, starting at 4 p.m. Saturday evening (local Israel time) to intercede for the deliverance of Israel from the surprise attack.
Dozens of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants broke through the security barrier separating Israel and Gaza on Saturday morning. A handful of terrorists crossed the border using paragliders.
The terrorists infiltrated communities across the south, firing on police vehicles, attacking homes and taking several civilians and soldiers hostage.
Residents of the southern communities have been instructed to lock themselves in homes and shelters until notified that the situation is under control.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir declared a state of civil emergency throughout the State of Israel beginning Saturday evening.
The Ministry of Education announced that schools will operate via online teaching on Sunday, and until cleared by security officials to resume normal operations.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.