The Middle East is never boring. Fast paced events over the past few weeks included:
- Iranian-Gazan instigated riots on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a flexing of their ambition to lead the push for an Islamist caliphate
- concerted jihadi rocket attacks (over 4,300 total) on Jerusalem and Israel’s civilian population (fired by Hamas – ‘the arsonist’)
- pin point IAF air and artillery attacks on Hamas rocket launchers, command-and-control (C&C) centers and tunnels (carried out by Israel – ‘the firefighter’)
- various Israeli politicians stumbled forward in an attempt to unseat PM Bibi Netanyahu for the fourth time, even cooperating with Muslim Brotherhood parties to do so
Encyclopedic volumes could be written on these developments. Here is a brief analysis and summation of these events.
The prophet Elisha was on his deathbed. King Joash of Israel came to pay his respects and to seek a final prophetic word:
- When Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over him and said, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows. Then Elisha said to the king of Israel, “Lay your hand on the bow.” And he laid his hand on it, then Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, “Open the window toward the east,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot!” So he shot. And he said, “YHVH’s arrow of victory, and the arrow of victory over Aram! For you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have put an end to them.” Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground,” and he struck it three times and stopped. Then the man of God became angry at him and said, “You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you put an end to it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times.” (2 Kings 13:14-19)
Striking arrows on the ground was a prophetic action here. King Joash’s politically correct strikings revealed his insufficient attitude of heart – he would not pursue his enemy to a bone-crushing defeat. Elisha prophesied that, instead, Joash would lead three inconclusive military campaigns against Aram (modern Syria), which would remain a clear and present danger to Israel even after his death.
Israel has recently engaged Hamas’ jihadi terrorists three times, and we are experiencing an intermission in the fourth campaign:
- Operation Cast Lead (2008–09)
- Operation Pillar of Defense (2012)
- Operation Protective Edge (2014)
- Operation Guardian of the Walls (2021)
Hamas’ goals in these battles remains to destroy the Jewish state (as per its Charter), mobilize jihadi support among Islamic countries and, in the latest round, to bolster its reputation among Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, eclipsing the PLO and being recognized as both the frontline jihadi defender of Jerusalem and the real leader of the Palestinian people worldwide.
Israel’s goals remain to degrade and prevent jihadi rocket fire on the Jewish state’s civilian population, to cause Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to accept and honor a ceasefire, and to weaken jihadi forces within the Gaza Strip.
The temporary ‘intermission’ ceasefire is just that – temporary. Even though Hamas and PIJ have suffered severe blows to much of their C&C, there are still significant amounts of their military infrastructure (as well as their jihadi vision of Israel’s annihilation) hidden underground, lying in wait for the next conflict. To crush Hamas as Joash could have crushed Aram – this would require an overwhelming land invasion by the IDF. IDF casualties (including the real potential of kidnapped Israeli soldiers) are a price that the present government does not want to pay at this time. As a result, Hamas and PIJ are continuing to threaten Israel with a renewed outbreak of hostilities.
This zero-sum game will continue until Israel decides to strike jihadi Gaza decisively and definitively (in the words of Elisha’s prophecy).
In Tolkien’s trilogy ‘The Lord of the Rings’ the satanic Sauron was known by his manifestation “the Eye” (also the Red Eye, the Evil Eye, the Lidless Eye, the Great Eye). He is described as having once been transformed into a non-physical state, spending a thousand years as a shapeless, dormant evil. His invisible darkness is given shape only through the actions of his subordinates.
The spiritual nature of jihad has eerie parallels to Sauron’s existence: the unclean and murderous darkness of jihad’s spiritual author cannot be removed once and for all by targeted eliminations, though counter-terrorism specialists refer to this strategy as a necessary and repeated ‘mowing the grass.’ The Hamas Charter states in its preamble: “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.” The Islamist article of faith that jihad will only be successful through the martyrdom and physical elimination of its terrorist fighters is explained here: Fathi Hamad, a member of the Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council, stated on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV (February 29, 2008): “For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly (ed., Palestinians) created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘We desire death as you desire life.’”
Hamas’ strategy of using its own population as human shields while firing from among them exclusively into Israel’s civilian populations is reminiscent of Imperial Japan’s kamikaze (“divine wind”; Shinpū Tokubetsu Kōgekitai, Japanese for ‘Divine Wind Special Attack Unit’). Coldly and deliberately causing the death of one’s own fighters is common to both groups. American and British defensive responses on WWII involved becoming adept at destroying enemy aircraft before they struck Allied ships. Israel’s policies today are the same. Hamas has pulled another rabbit out of its strategic hat (with Western media help), accusing Israel of war crimes by causing wanton civilian deaths in Gaza.
The unsolvable and irreconcilable battle between Islamic jihad (on one hand) and the God of Israel and His Jewish people (on the other hand) will continue until YHVH brings about the deliverance about which Moses prophesied – and His peace is established on earth as it is in heaven:
- If I have sharpened My flashing sword, and My hand has taken hold of justice, I will return vengeance on My adversaries, and I will repay those who hate Me. I will make My arrows drunk with blood, and My sword will devour flesh, with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired leaders of the enemy. Rejoice, you nations, with His people! For He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will return vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people.” (Deuteronomy 32:41-43)
The counsel of Ahithophel
Bathsheba’s father was Eliam, and Eliam’s father was Ahithophel the Gilonite (see 2 Samuel 11:3; 23:34). In better days, before David’s sins with Bathsheba, “Ahithophel was counselor to the king; and Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend” (1 Chronicles 27:33). “Now the advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was taken as though one inquired of the word of God. So was all the advice of Ahithophel regarded by both David and Absalom” (2 Samuel 16:23).
Ahithophel was deeply offended by King David’s murder of his granddaughter Bathsheba’s husband Uriah (2 Samuel 11:14-15). In a royal dispute between Absalom and his father King David, Ahithophel hated David so much that he took Absalom’s side, repeatedly giving him advice that would destroy the reign of David and allow for a change of government. At one point Absalom spurned Ahithophel’s counsel and chose to follow the advice of Hushai (a double agent planted by David to frustrate the counsel of Ahithophel): “Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than the advice of Ahithophel.’ For YHVH had ordained to foil the good advice of Ahithophel, in order for YHVH to bring disaster on Absalom” (2 Samuel 17:14). “Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out and went to his home, to his city, and set his house in order, and hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s grave” (2 Samuel 17:23).
Israel’s scrappy coalition politics are always stimulating. Currently, the 120 Members of Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) represent thirteen different political parties. They have traditionally formed simpatico blocks – Right, Left, Religious and Arab. Since 1977, the Right wing has grown increasingly stronger, whereas after the disastrous Oslo Accords and the rise of Hamas, the Left wing grown considerably weaker. The Religious bloc has tended to hold its seats, whereas recently the Arab factions underwent a split and increased their share of the political pie. The recent four elections within a two-year period have revealed an electorate with a Right wing majority, yet due to deep seated roots of bitterness between Netanyahu and three of his former confidants (Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, Gideon Sa’ar), these former Right wing running mates have split, resulting in four political parties where there once had been one. This has resulted in a political zero-sum game with no one party able to deliver a clear majority (hence four elections in two years).
In order for one political block to triumph (temporarily), a uniquely Israeli game of musical chairs must be played. At this point Left and Left-Center have tentatively shaken hands with Bennett (Religious/Right) and Sa’ar (Right) to form a movement called ‘Change’ (meaning both ‘unseat Bibi’ and ‘make things better’). Yet there are still not enough seats to swing the deal. So ‘Change’ has turned to the Arab vote, which was split in this last election. One faction led by Mansour Abbas split off and won four seats with his United Arab List, Ra’am. Dr. Mansour Abbas is involved with a movement connected to the Muslim Brotherhood (the same group which flowered into Hamas, al Qa’eda, etc.) and serves as Deputy Chairman of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement. He is the formulator and author of the Islamic Movement Charter. His party is being offered positions of influence in the Knesset. Some of this could certainly lead to a betterment of Israeli Arab life (like Hamas’ rise in Gaza was sold as something which would lead to ‘dawa’ – better social services for Gaza’s population). Yet having a political party which is spiritually drinking from the wells of Osama bin Laden’s teacher may not be the wisest move for Israel, as noted Arabist Dr. Mordechai Kedar explains.
The razor thin majority that both blocks are seeking now seems to be dependent on a Muslim Brotherhood party, albeit one who is prepared to bide its time in the realization of its clearly stated objectives. Yet because of Mansour Abbas’ potential participation, some on the anti-Bibi Right (and even on the anti-Bibi Center) are getting very cold feet about signing on to this hybrid political mutation. One defection here or there could collapse the whole deck of cards. Though pro-‘Change’ media is not explaining the subtleties here, Elvis has not yet left the building.
This coming week will probably also have many surprising developments, both in the Hamas/Qatar corner and in the poker game called Israel’s fourth election results.
How should we then pray?
- Pray for God to shine His light on all evil jihadi Gazan/Iranian plots against Israel, and to pull the plug on them
- Pray for God to expose the Muslim Brotherhood strategies at work in Ra’am
- Pray for strategic and political wisdom for Israel’s leadership in every area
- Pray for the government of God’s choice to come into being in Israel (Daniel 2:21; Luke 1:52; Proverbs 16:33; 18:18)
- Pray for the raising up of the Ezekiel 37 prophetic army among the Jewish people
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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