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WATCH VIDEO: Hezbollah missile destroys Messianic congregation building in northern Israel

Members of the congregation provide groceries to Holocaust survivors every week and cook hot meals for IDF soldiers every day – Now what?

Israeli security forces at the scene where a rocket fired from Lebanon into Northern Israel hit the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona, May 10, 2024. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — Pastor Israel Iluz, his family, members of his Messianic congregation, and the volunteers who come from around the country and around the world to serve with them are deeply grateful to Yeshua (Jesus) to be alive this Shabbat.

In normal times, the congregation meets late on Friday afternoons for their weekly service of worship, prayer, Bible teaching, and fellowship.

They typically gather together in their newly built and beautiful outfitted church building in Kiryat Shmona, the largest city in northern Israel, located right along the Lebanon border. 

But had they been operating like normal, they would likely all be dead.



Because just after 5 p.m. local time on Friday, Hezbollah terrorists operating in southern Lebanon fired a barrage of missiles at Kiryat Shmona.

ALL ISRAEL NEWS has learned that one of the missiles made a direct hit on the building right next to Messianic congregation, and that the resulting blast wave destroyed much of what was inside the church.

Fortunately, no one was killed or even injured – because no one was there.

“You know, Joel, this is exactly the time that we were supposed to be there worshipping in our service,” Pastor Israel told me by phone shortly after the attack.

“It’s exactly at that time on Fridays that we gather, but by the grace of God, [after the war began in October], our people evacuated to Poria,” a community close to Tiberias, on a mountain ridge overlooking the Sea of Galilee. 

“That’s why, by the mercy of God, none of us got hurt.”

About 23,000 Jews and Arabs live in Kiryat Shmona, but shortly after the October 7th war began, the entire city was evacuated. 

Most residents moved into hotels in and around Tiberias.

Since all foreign tourists had left the country, and no more were coming, the hotels had been standing empty, so the government immediately moved the evacuees into them. 

That said, while the city and its only Messianic congregation evacuated eight months ago, Israel Iluz and his family did not.


Despite the intensifying missile fire coming from Hezbollah, they have remained in their home and kept operating out of their church building every day except on Shabbat. 

Doing what?

Trying to be a blessing to those in harm’s way. 

• Cooking 400 to 500 hot meals on most days – 700 on Fridays – and delivering them to Israeli soldiers and police officers operating on the frontlines or stationed in the city. 

• Delivering fresh groceries to elderly shut-ins and Holocaust survivors who could not or chose not to evacuate.

• Praying with and for their fellow Israelis – both soldiers and civilians – who are feeling terribly shaken by this ongoing and brutal war. 

• And patiently and gently explaining to those who ask why they have such faith, hope, love, and courage in such perilous times how Yeshua has utterly transformed them and given them complete assurance that when they pass from this world, they will be spending eternity in heaven. 

In February, ALL ISRAEL NEWS profiled the pastor and congregation, noting that “all across the country, including in Israel’s northern tier, The Joshua Fund – the ministry Lynn and I started in 2006 to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus – invests prayerfully and financially in such couples and the congregations and wonderful ministries they lead.”

That same month, I featured an entire episode on this congregation on THE ROSENBERG REPORT on TBN, because even though it’s so small, it’s having an extraordinary impact.


Never in all their years of ministry, Israeli Iluz told me, have they seen their neighbors display such openness to talking about God, the Bible, and even the New Testament’s gospel message. 

That’s why, despite the growing danger, Pastor Israel and his family and colleagues remain fiercely committed to staying put, not abandoning their post, and showing the love of Yeshua to Israelis facing death every day.

Indeed, they were cooking and boxing up meal packages all Friday morning and into the early afternoon, before delivering them and going home. 


“Our people were cooking in the church until about 1:30 p.m. or 2 p.m.,” he told me.

“We left the building and just about 5 p.m, the bomb [missile] hit the building next to us and our building and just destroyed the church.”

“We had just built this church,” he added. “We had just moved in” last fall. 

“Now everything is destroyed and we need to clean and build again.”

“We really thank God that no one got hurt and it’s only property,” said Pastor Israel. 

“The Lord knows” how to take care of His children, explained the pastor, a native – or sabra – Israeli Jew, who was born and raised in the Land.

“I guess Satan knows, too, how to create havoc and fear. But we are strong, brother – strong in the Lord – and I just pray now for wisdom to know how to carry on because I know there is a need for the food.”

Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.

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