December 13 this year ushers in Chanukah-- eight days during which to commemorate miracles, and a time of re-dedication to God.

He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps, the Bible says. He defends His people, and He turns the weapons of Israel's enemies on their own heads.

There have been numerous instances down the years when Israel has been miraculously spared annihilation and destruction in war.

But the Shomer Yisrael has also been at work between wars, and 1998 was no exception. It will be hard, in the midst of all the upheaval and uncertainty Israel is in, but there is reason this Chanukah to celebrate miraculous deliverance from numerous attacks during the year.

From the bombs which were thrown into a children's playground in Hebron on January 2, and hurt no-one, to explosives that went of too early, or too late, in Jerusalem, sometimes killing the bombers but leaving civilians lightly wounded or unscathed. From the foiled attempts by Hamas members to ram and blow up a bus full of Israeli children in Gaza, to the thwarting of Arab efforts to kidnap Jews, to the double grenade attacks in Hebron and Be'er Sheba, and the bomb in Tel Aviv, which injured Israelis but took no lives. God's protecting and defending hand has been seen again and again and again.

In the most recent attack attempt, on November 6, two men drove an explosives-and-nail-laden car into the heart of busy Jerusalem and blew it up, killing themselves but failing to take a single Israeli with them.

These are only some of the bungled attempts we know about. Israel's security services, working around the clock to combat and frustrate their nation's enemies, know of many more.

As chanukiot twinkle brightly in thousands of windows throughout Israel this year, they will bear testimony once again to the faithfulness of God, who for centuries has accompanied His people through tumultuous, often dark and difficult times, and has brought them safely to another festival of lights.

His peace be upon Israel.

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