October 12, 2023

Gaza: How we escaped attack by Hamas – Lagos cleric

Gaza: How we escaped attack by Hamas – Lagos cleric

A cleric and pilgrim from Lagos state, Most Reverend Adewole David has narrated his experience and how Nigerian Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land of Jerusalem escaped attacks from the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza, Palestine.

In an exclusive interview with Vanguard, Reverend David described his experience in Israel as glorious and fantastic.

He said, “My experience was so glorious and fantastic. It gives me a deeper understanding of the word of God. It made me appreciate the word of Jesus that gave us salvation.

“It was not up to an hour after we left, that’s when the attack occurred. In fact, we were on the bus going to Nazareth when we had a call from the tour guard that where we just left was attacked by Hamas,” he added.

Speaking on their visitation to various holy sites in Israel before the attack, Reverend David said, “We were just thanking God for safety. I can say that no Nigerian experienced it. As we were going, some of the places we wanted to go were stopped, later we had a call that the attack had stopped for the day. 

“That gave us the grace to visit everywhere we wanted to visit before returning. It was after everything we did, that was when the attack escalated. That was why Batch B was cancelled.

“We never witnessed it. The Jordan plane was supposed to pick from Israel, but Israel did not grant access. So, we had to go on a seven-hour long journey by road,” he said. 

Meanwhile, a lawyer, Mrs Adebimpe Bada, who also narrated her experience, said they were in Israel when the conflict started, but they heard news of attacks on some places they visited after they had departed from those places.

Bada said, “We heard, I didn’t see, we heard that a particular hotel that we just departed from was attacked about two hours after we left there.

“We visited several places; we were in Bethlehem, we were in Jordan, we were in Nazareth, so, what we learnt was that the last place we left, just barely two or three hours after we left, was attacked.

“The locations we visited that were later attacked were attacked after we had departed from there,” thankful Bada told our correspondent.

Speaking on how the pilgrims received the news of the conflict, the lawyer said the team of the Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board led by its Executive Secretary, Mrs Florence Gbafe, “managed the situation properly so much so that we didn’t know what was going on on time.”

Bada further noted that the pilgrims observed that there was tension among the Israelis and there were “blood donation centres that were already established.”

Another pilgrim, Mr Emmanuel Bantale, said he had a premonition that there might be attacks owing to the period they visited Israel.

“As a news person, I have keenly followed the tension between Israel and Hamas for a long time now. I have observed that the Palestinians would always want to attack whenever there is a significant feast in Israel.

“We went to Israel during the Feast of Tabernacles, and this got me scared. I told my partner that I was scared and that anything could happen, and we were already in Israel at the time,” Bantale said.

He added that they were onboard a bus enroute to the Sea of Galilee “when I sighted a parachute at a long distance from us and I called the attention of others to it. I never knew that was the time the Palestinians wanted to hit Israel.

“It was when we got back to our hotel, and I got to realise that the attacks were carried out by men using parachutes.”

Recall 310 Lagos contingent returned to Nigeria on Tuesday, touching down at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos at about 12.50 am.

According to reports, the death toll in the Israel-Hamas war neared 1,900 as Hamas attacks Israeli city of Ashkelon after warning residents to leave as the war enters its fourth day.