Vandals deface Gainesville church's sign declaring support for Israel


GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Vandals have defaced a church’s sign that declares: “We stand with Israel.”

North Hall Church Pastor Bucky Kennedy is using the incident to proclaim the gospel.

“We see it as an opportunity to share the hope, the love and the promise that is in Jesus Christ, the Messiah,” he said on an Instagram video.

Kennedy said his Gainesville church has been receiving supportive phone calls as well as offers to buy the church a new sign after two people scrawled “Free Palestine” in red letters across the front.

Security cameras showed the two, who appeared to be college-aged, defacing the sign about 11:30 p.m. Sunday.

In the Instagram post, Kennedy said his church is standing with Israel because “it’s biblical.”

“God tells us we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” he said.

Kennedy stood beside the defaced sign in the video.

“I’m not angry,” he said. “I’m not upset. It is what it is. In the times that we live in in which hate is prevalent, we want to be able to tell the good news of Jesus Christ, that Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Israel declared war on Hamas after militants killed some 1,400 people, mainly civilians, in a surprise attack three weeks ago.

The Associated Press reported that Israeli ground forces were pushing deeper into Gaza on Monday, advancing in tanks and other armored vehicles on the territory’s main city. They also rescued an Israeli soldier, Pvt. Ori Megidish, 19, who had been held hostage by Hamas militants.

Hamas and other militant groups are believed to be holding some 240 other men, women and children captive.

Hamas has released four hostages. Leaders of the group have said they would let the others go in return for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, including many implicated in deadly attacks on Israelis.

Israel has dismissed the offer.