- Then YHVH spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho, saying . . . “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from you, and destroy all their idolatrous sculptures, destroy all their cast metal images, and eliminate all their high places . . . But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from you, then it will come about that those whom you let remain of them will be like thorns in your eyes and like pricks in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live’” (Numbers 33:50-56; see also Joshua 23:1-13; Judges 2:1-5).
The psalmist describes the threats of his enemies in this way: “They surrounded me like bees” (Psalm 118:12). The buzzing threats of Israel’s enemies come not only from terror gangs in Gaza (Hamas, Islamic Jihad), Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Iran (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – in Persian, ‘Pasdaran’ or Sepāh-e Pāsdārān-e Enqelâb-e Eslâmī ; ‘Army of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution’). Threats also come from a certain number of Arabs in the West Bank (often called ‘Palestinians’) and from some Arab Israelis.
In May 2021, Hamas fired thousands of rockets from Gazan civilian areas into Israeli civilian areas in what Israel called ‘Operation Guardian of the Walls.’ Within a day. thousands of Israeli Arab citizens (out of a total number of 2,065.000 Arab Israelis, that number being 21% of Israel’s total population or 9.73 million) rose up in open revolt, rioting against the state of Israel. Israel’s Central District Fire Station later released sobering statistics: in little more than a week, Arab Israeli rioters set on fire 10 synagogues and 112 Israeli Jewish residences, looted 386 Jewish homes and damaged 673 others, and set 849 Jewish-owned cars on fire. The main streets in mixed Arab-Jewish towns like Lod, Jaffa, Haifa and Akko became battlefields. There were 5,018 recorded instances of Jews being stoned. Three Jews were murdered and more than 600 were hurt. Over 300 Israeli police officers were injured in the over 500 riots which broke out in over 90 locations throughout the country. This was Israel’s worst occurrence of internal violence up to that point. These Arab citizens of Israel, aflame with anti-Israel and anti-Jewish passions, brought ‘the Palestinian struggle’ into the Israeli heartland.
- What is the significance of these riots historically, strategically and biblically?
The Arab Revolt – then and now
Between 1919 and 1939 violent Arab riots spread across the emerging Jewish state. These Islamic pogroms shook the Hebrew farms, villages and cities of the Promised Land, then under the British Palestine Mandate. Marauding Islamist gangs (the ideological predecessors of the modern terror groups PLO, Hamas and Islamic Jihad) savagely beat, raped and murdered hundreds of Jews throughout the Holy Land. Israel’s War of Independence (1947-48) was a continuation of that clash. Reflecting classical Islamic teachings and perspectives. the leaders of the Arab forces strongly opposed the return of the Jewish people to their biblically promised homeland – in the same way as Saudi King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud spelled out in his 1943 letter to U.S. President Roosevelt:
- “Palestine . . . has been an Arab country since the dawn of history and . . . was never inhabited by the Jews for more than a period of time, during which their history in the land was full of murder and cruelty . . . [There is] religious hostility . . . between the Muslims and the Jews from the beginning of Islam . . . which arose from the treacherous conduct of the Jews towards Islam and the Muslims and their prophet.”
But long before Arab jihadis conquered the Land of Israel in the 630’s A.D., the Hebrew seer Ezekiel prophesied in the 600’s B.C. that YHVH would bring His Jewish people back to their own homeland in the Last Days:
- Therefore, prophesy and say to them, “This is what the Lord YHVH says: Behold, I am going to open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am YHVH, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. And I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, YHVH, have spoken and done it, declares YHVH” (Ezekiel 37:12-14)
Dr. Benny Morris, one of Israel’s outstanding historians, comments in his ‘1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War’ (Yale, 2008):
- “Historians have tended to ignore or dismiss, as so much hot air, the jihadi rhetoric and flourishes that accompanied the two-stage assault on the Yishuv and the constant references in the prevailing Arab discourse to that earlier bout of Islamic battle for the Holy Land, against the Crusaders. This is a mistake. The 1948 War, from the Arabs’ perspective, was a war of religion as much as, if not more than, a nationalist war over territory. Put another way, the territory was sacred: its violation by infidels was sufficient grounds for launching a holy war and its conquest or reconquest, a divinely ordained necessity.”
The struggle between Jews determined to return to their Promised Land, and Arabs opposed to that return, has lasted for over a century – from 1919 to the present day. A significant number of Arab Israelis see themselves as part of the Palestinian people; they view the Jews as foreign colonists and occupiers in Palestine; and they believe that Israel is only a temporary phenomenon, and that the Palestinians will in the end ‘liberate’ this land and destroy the Jewish people. As the Hamas Charter states with great precision:
- “In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad . . . We must imprint on the minds of generations of Muslims that the Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise. ‘I swear by that who holds in His Hands the soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill’” (Article #15).
The May 2021 riots show that there is a significant portion of Israel’s Arab citizens who seek to reverse the Arab defeat in 1948 and to ‘liberate Palestine’ at Israel’s expense. Tens of thousands of Arab citizens of Israel have not come to terms with Israel’s permanency but instead seek to follow the example of the Islamist terror gangs from the 1930’s.
- “The May 2021 riots were not a civil protest, ‘a pastime,’ or the Israeli version of the Black Lives Matter movement. They were an open assault on the State of Israel and its Jewish citizens during wartime. Tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs took to the streets and set out to harm and kill Jews. These rioters enjoy the sympathies of wide swaths of the Israeli Arab population that reject Israel’s Jewish character. This was a nationalist insurgency aimed at the state’s very existence.”
Finger on the pulse
Haifa University Professor of Sociology Sammy Smooha has published research after the May 2021 riots, revealing that 77.1 per cent of Israeli Arabs view Zionism as a colonial and racist movement, and demand that Israel be replaced with a binational State and not be defined as a Jewish one; 70.5 per cent of Israeli Arabs demand the right of return of Palestinian refugees, a move that would quickly turn Israeli Jews into a minority within their own country.
IDF Brigadier-General (reserves) Yossi Kuperwasser, in his article ‘Israel’s Arabs Rioted in May 2021. What Did We Learn and What Does the Future Hold,’ concludes:
- “The May 2021 riots exposed the intensity of the hostility of some of the Arab population in Israel toward the prevailing order in the state and, in practice, showed their animosity toward Israel’s very existence as a Jewish and democratic state. The rioting exposed the tumultuous confluence of the violent hostility, the availability of weapons among Israeli Arabs, the relatively broad public support for the narrative behind this violence, and feelings of deprivation and lack of governance. These factors indicate the potential for further, perhaps even more serious, flare-ups, given a volatile event that will ignite the fumes again. Another signal of this dangerous potential were the violent riots by Bedouin in January 2022 in response to tree planting in the Negev.”
Military historian and security expert Dr. Yagil Henkin has expressed fears that during the next round of fighting, Israeli Arabs may block major Israeli highways and seek to prevent troop movements to the front. IDF Major-General (res.) Gershon Hacohen warns that Arab criminal gangs in Israel (which largely kept out of the events of May 2021), will point their guns at Jews in the future.
In his article ‘The May 2021 Riots and Their Implications,’ Dr. Doron Matza, a Research Associate at the BESA Center, and former senior in the Israeli intelligence system, prophetically states: “A change in the intensity of the conflict with Hamas could also negatively affect Jewish-Arab relations within Israel and make it difficult to return to the equilibrium that existed before the May riots.”
In his article ‘Beware the Israeli-Arab violent riots of the future,’ Jerusalem Post reporter David Weinberg comments that “the IDF has marked Jewish-Arab clashes as a strategic scenario of concern which impacts its battle plans. In other words, aside from the expectation that thousands of rockets, missiles, and drones will be launched at Israeli cities from Lebanon, Gaza, and the Golan Heights in a next war with Hezbollah and/or Hamas, Israel now must worry that major traffic arteries could be impeded in places where Israeli Arabs extremists are out rioting. The IDF must prepare for a situation in which Military Police will have to keep roads open so that combat forces can reach the front; so that Home Front Command and medical forces can reach places where missiles fall; and so that the Israel Police can reach affected cities to prevent the looting of homes of people who will be evacuating.”
In his article ‘Arab insurgency must be a wake-up call,’ Avraham Shalev quotes Bulus Nahas, an Arab city council member from the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Akko: “We will go out again . . . We believe that all evil is rooted in the [Israeli] Occupation . . . If the matter is related to the Palestinian people, of which we are a part, we will go out.”
Israeli attorney Russell Shalev warns in his article ‘Israel’s Homegrown Intifada’: “Unless there is a willingness to openly acknowledge and confront the growth of a large and hostile Arab fifth column, Israel will remain vulnerable to subversion and threats carried out by its citizens during wartime. The growing radicalization of Israel’s Arab citizens and their willingness to openly side with Israel’s enemies during wartime threatens any hope of peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs and poses an acute threat to Israeli security.”
‘This is only a test’
In May 2022, the IDF launched what was up to that point its largest exercise in its history, ‘Chariots of Fire.’ The IDF said the drill would implement lessons learned from the 2021 Operation Guardian of the Walls, which saw heavy rioting along highways and inside Israeli cities. The IDF Home Front Command practiced dealing with massive riots in Israeli cities and along main roads while under virtual heavy enemy fire. Eight IDF battalions along with Israel Police practiced keeping main arteries open in order to allow military convoys to pass from southern to northern Israel. The drill included protecting military convoys from possible rioters. This would allow traffic to continue including “vehicles and trucks traveling to reinforce Iron Dome batteries.”
In July 2022 the Israeli State Ombudsman released a report finding that Israel’s security services had failed to see unrest coming, to prepare for the violence and to respond and deploy adequately in light of this. If these failures have happened in the past, it seems that prayer is deeply needed for the immediate future.
Jihad is Islamic
Several Islamic scholars have responded to Hamas’ October 7 pogrom involving slaughter, mass rape, torture and kidnapping of Israelis (including babies) by issuing Islamic legal opinions (fatwas) encouraging these jihad warriors to expand their activities.
- Saleh al-Raqab, Professor of Religion at Gaza’s Islamic University and a former Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments in the Hamas government, published an article one day after the October 7 attacks entitled ‘O Mujahideen in Palestine:’ “O Allah, grant victory to the fighters in Palestine! Guide their strikes to the throats of Jews. Make their legs steady and let them stab a knife through the hearts [of the Jews] . . . Enable them to kill the soldiers of the Jews, destroy the weapons of the Jews, and capture Jewish soldiers. O Allah, destroy the Jews completely. Paralyze their limbs and freeze the blood in their veins!”
- On October 21, 2023 the Palestine Scholars Association in the Diaspora published a fatwa quoting the Quranic verse that states: “You will find that the most bitter enemies of Muslims are the Jews and the polytheists,” and stating that jihad against the Zionists is “one of the main obligations of our religion.”
- In an Islamic legal response published on October 24, 2023, a member of the Yemenite branch of the Scholars’ Association, Aref bin Ahmed al-Sabri, wrote that Jews and their property are a legitimate target for Muslims. He further called on Arab countries around Israel to intervene to repel Jews from Palestine, stating that the land belongs exclusively to Muslims, and not an inch of it may be given up to the Jews.
On October 23, 2023, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office submitted an indictment to the city’s district court against Mustafa Jamal, an Islamic cleric of a mosque in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya. According to the indictment, a few days after the war began, on October 12 Jamal called on hundreds of people in the mosque to join the jihad against Israel. As a result, violent riots developed in that neighborhood with dozens of people throwing stones, Molotov cocktails and shooting fireworks at Israeli security forces in the vicinity, at the Hadassah Mount Scopus hospital just over the hill, at travelers on adjoining roads and at a local gas station.
Are we ready for a return to 1948?
Shalev states: “Unless there is a willingness to openly acknowledge and confront the growth of a large and hostile Arab fifth column, Israel will remain vulnerable to subversion and threats carried out by its citizens during wartime. The growing radicalization of Israel’s Arab citizens and their willingness to openly side with Israel’s enemies during wartime threatens any hope of peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs and poses an acute threat to Israeli security.”
Certainly there are clear and present dangers – imminent threats – rockets and missiles and terror attacks from Gaza and from Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Yet a stealth threat which is largely unappreciated outside of Israel but which is definitely a main concern for the IDF and Israel’s security services, involves the potential for widespread rioting in Israel and the West Bank – instigated by underground Hamas jihadis. The recent huge upsurge of Arab-on-Arab shootings and murder within Israel, could quickly morph into concentrated fire against Jewish Israelis across the nation.
The God of Israel promises to burn up all of the ‘thorns and briars’ that Moses and Joshua warned about in a single day: “Therefore, . . . under the glory [of YHVH, the God of armies] a fire will be kindled like a burning flame. And the Light of Israel will become a fire and Israel’s Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and his briars in a single day” (Isaiah 10:15-19)
How should we then pray?
As IDF tanks are rolling in Gaza, here are some bullet points to be praying about:
- Pray for victory for the IDF as they dismantle Hamas HQs, tunnels, mines, commando teams wherever they are located – even beside mosques and schools or under major hospitals
- Pray for clarity of strategy, purpose and resolve for Israel to achieve the total and unconditional surrender of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and their total removal from Gaza
- Pray for the leaders of your nation to receive a revelation of God as the Captain of the armies of Israel (see 1 Samuel 17:45): “But David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a saber, but I come to you in the name of YHVH of armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’”
- Pray for minimal loss of life on Israel’s side and for those Gazans who are truly innocent
- Pray for God’s strategies and leading regarding how to deal with Hezbollah, and for the God of Jacob to hold back regional war if possible, involving Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, Turkey, the Yemenite Houthis and other superpowers
- Pray for revelation and clarity to be imparted by the God of Israel to the world intelligence community who have not yet understood what jihad is all about and are fogged as to how to deal with it decisively
- Pray for the physical rescue of the at least 230 Israelis (including babies) kidnapped by Hamas
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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