Hastings couple Russell and Joanne Perry watch news bulletins on Israel's military action in the Gaza Strip a lot closer than most New Zealanders - their son Samuel may be mobilised by the Israel Defence Force should the conflict escalate.

Samuel was raised a Christian but five years ago emigrated to Israel. His only connection with Israel was Mrs Perry's Jewish father in New Zealand, who converted to Christianity.

"That was the easiest way for him to fulfil his desire to join the Israel Defence Force," Mrs Perry said.

"He never put it into words much but I think he felt called to help stand for God's land and God's people."


The 26-year-old former Karamu High School student talked about emigrating for two years before taking action, she said.

After learning Hebrew in Israel he joined the Engineering Corps. "He did two years in the army and is now studying and working with an engineering firm that makes water purification plants - turning grey water into clean water. They export the plants all over the world."

Mrs Perry said she was not anxious should he be called to active duty.

"Like all the people of Israel he is in God's hands. But if he should be killed, as 25 Israeli soldiers have been in the last week or so, I'm sure we would be grief stricken as any parents would be.

"We wouldn't be angry that he was in the Israel Defence Force, or angry at Hamas or anything like that - we would know he was doing what he wanted to do."

She said all six of their children had to choose their own path in life.

Mr and Mrs Perry hope to catch up with him in September when they will be in Israel voluntarily picking grapes in Judea and Samaria with a Christian organisation.

"We are not trying to convert anybody - we are just trying to show them that God is blessing and loving Israel, even in these difficult times."

Last week Mrs Perry joined 50 Hawke's Bay people for a Wellington rally in support of Israel's Gaza action.

The Israeli ambassador to New Zealand, Yosef Livne, will visit Hawke's Bay on August 5, after an invitation from The Hawke's Bay branch of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs. He will speak at the Havelock North Club and Kennedy Park Resort in Napier. The title of his presentation is Israel's Foreign Policy in the 21st Century.