Thousands of Christians gathered in Jerusalem yesterday to express their support for Israel. Although the solidarity mission arrived as violence in Israel has escalated, the pilgrims, mainly from the United States, said they were not frightened by the violence but only hoped to boost Israeli morale during their visit.
More than 4,000 people joined this year’s annual pilgrimage, about 25 percent higher than the past three years, according to organizers with the International Christian Embassy.
During the gathering at a Jerusalem convention center, American evangelist Pat Robertson said he “sends notice” to Osama bin Laden, Arafat and Palestinian militant groups that “you will not frustrate God’s plan” to have Jews rule the Holy Land until the Second Coming of Jesus.
"God says, 'I'm going to judge those who carve up the West Bank and Gaza Strip,' " Robertson said. " 'It's my land and keep your hands off it.' "
In recent years, the Israeli government has forged a close alliance with conservative American Christians, a number of which are strong supporters of Israel as they believe that the return of the Jews to ‘the Holy Land’ is foretold in the Scriptures.
The pilgrimage comes during Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, a seven-day Jewish harvest festival that commemorates the 40 years Israelites wandered in the desert after the exodus from Egypt as mentioned in the Bible.