The past 60 hours have seen over 90 rockets rain down on Israeli cities, including Beersheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Ofakim, Lehavim, Gedera, Kiryat Malachi and Beer Tuvya. All of these cities are within striking range from Gazan terror missiles. One 38-year old man has been murdered by a direct hit; one youg woman is fighting for her life. Scores have been wounded, and many have suffered shock.
The background of this explosion
During the month of August a group of possibly up to one hundred jihadi terrorists gathered in Egypt close to the Israeli border. They had smuggled themselves out of the Gaza Strip tunnels one at a time under Hamas’ watchful eye, and had gathered in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. There they trained for a mass terror attack, the goal of which was to kill Israeli citizens, as well as to kidnap some who could be used as bargaining chips to free jihadi prisoners in Israeli jails. Working with Sinai Bedouin, al-Qa’eda affiliated jihadi forces, and weaponry smuggled in by Iran, they gathered next to the Israeli border in the southern Negev close to the Red Sea port/resort of Eilat.
By Thursday August 18 their spearhead force of twenty men had dug tunnels under an Egyptian military border post, from which they emerged (some in Egyptian army uniforms) at 12:25 pm, crossing the international border under the eyes of Egyptian border patrol. They spread out over a thousand foot radius and began firing into a passing civilian Egged bus number 392 filled with Israelis returning to Eilat for the weekend, as well as soldiers on leave. One of our son’s friends was on the bus and was wounded. The driver of the bus hit the gas and tore off down the road, rescuing his passengers from certain death. Seven were moderately wounded and evacuated by helicopter to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva.
Using military tactics borrowed from Hezbollah (Lebanese Shiite jihadi terror group) and indicating Iranian logistical support, they activated Claymore mines, fired mortars from the Egyptian side, and shot RPGs at a civilian car and at a helicopter (both missed the target). Three terrorists attacked a private car of Israeli tourists out on a weekend vacation, machine gunning two sisters and their husbands, and then confirming the kills at close range. They murdered the driver of another civilian car, whose wife pretended to be dead and so saved her life. A suicide bomber then blew himself up next to a civilian bus passing by (without passengers) killing himself and the driver.
Israeli Golani recon forces (Sayeret Golani) and the Eilat-based SWAT team (YAMAM LOTAR) stormed the terrorists, killing six at close range. A 22-year old Golani soldier, Moshe Naftali, was shot and killed as he stepped out of his jeep. After a temporary lull in the fighting, people dressed in Egyptian army uniforms on the Egyptian side of the border shot and killed Pascal Avrahami, the 49-year old legendary YAMAM sniper. As Israeli helicopters followed in hot pursuit of other terrorists, four to six Egyptian soldiers were caught in the crossfire between the helicopter and the terrorists, causing the death of some of the Egyptians.
There is still concern that an undetermined number of jihadi terrorists are concealing themselves in the Israeli desert close by. Another attack site was uncovered at 6pm with IEDs ready, while a search of the dead terrorists revealed that they had plastic handcuffs with them, which would have been used to immobilize kidnapping victims.
- Please pray that IDF special forces will track down and eliminate any surviving terrorists in the area even as Jael did in Judges 4:21-22.
Arab Spring or jihadi chaos?
The tumultuous events in Cairo’s Tahrir Square have not lead to an Arab Spring but to a jihadi Summer. Total chaos is the rule in Egyptian-held Sinai. Al Qa’eda and other jihadi forces have recently attacked the Egyptian police station in El Arish with 200 armed men, and are attempting (aided by their 6,000-strong armed militias) to establish Shari’a-led dictatorships in enclaves throughout the area. Egypt’s Supreme Military Council has come under verbal fire by retired Egyptians generals in the past week, being accused of having allowed Salafist and jihadi forces a free hand in the Sinai.
Five attacks by these forces have put the natural gas pipelines (which carry Egyptian gas to Israel and Jordan) totally out of commission. The Camp David peace accords initiated by President Jimmy Carter guaranteed a continuing flow of this energy source to Israel. Its stoppage indicates a major breakdown of peaceful and cooperative relations between Egypt and Israel, and a harbinger of more serious problems to come.
For sovereign Egypt to allow its soil to be used to host and facilitate a major terror attack on Israel is a serious event that bears careful consideration. But rather than learning and applying the fateful lessons here, the Egyptian government has gone into attack mode, demanding an Israeli apology for the deaths of its soldiers and witholding from its own people the facts that terrorists were able to infiltrate Egypt, and stage a massive attack from Egyptian soil while hiding behind Egyptian military posts and while dressed in Egyptian army uniforms.
On Friday and Saturday Egyptian police have permitted violent attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo to go on without disruption – shades of what Iran orchestrated on November 4 1979 at the US Embassy in Teheran.
Hitting the target
Within five hours of the initial attack, IAF targeted and eliminated the head of the PRC (Popular Resistence Committee) military wing and five of his top leaders – the group that had spearheaded the multi-pronged terror attack – in the southern end of the Gaza Strip. Within 24 hours another senior commander was neutralized as he maneuvered through northern Gaza’s alleys on a speed bike. Israel focused its initial fury on the PRC leadership, but also destroyed smuggling tunnels, weapons workshops and rocket squads firing Qassam rockets. Though the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Hamas jihadi organization initially washed its hands of responsibility or awareness of PRC’s preparations, it too began to fire rockets into Israel on Friday.
Over the past three days air raid sirens reminiscent of WWII movies have been going off with sickening repetition, often in the middle of the night. Beersheva residents have 60 seconds to make it to the one room in their house which is built to withstand missile attack. After that (usually within 25 to 60 seconds) one hears the crrrumppp of a missile smashing into the ground, or being blown up in the skies above by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile batteries.
What is happening now is strikingly similar to the opening stages of the war in late December 2008 known as Operation Cast Lead. After over 12,000 rockets and mortars had been fired from Gaza at Israeli cities, villages, kibbutzim and farms, Israeli forces entered the Gaza Strip in order to end the rocket fire, to destroy the rocket infrastructure, and “to reduce the ability of Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza to perpetrate future attacks against the civilian population in Israel” (www.mfa.gov.il/gazafacts).
- Pray that Israel’s political, military and intelligence leaders will have strategic revelation from the God of Israel on how to defeat those in Gaza who would discomfort and destroy the Jewish people (2 Chronicles 20:11-12).
Jephthah and the peace process
Over 3,100 years ago Jephthah son of Gilead was chosen by the elders of Israel to defend Israel from Arab attacks coming from Ammon (present-day Jordan). Jephthah sent ambassadors to the Ammonites asking the straightforward question, “What do you have against me, that you have come against me to fight against my land?” (Judges 11:12). The king of Ammon then accused Israel of having stolen land which had belonged to Ammon. “Now therefore restore these land peaceably!” he demanded (verse 13).
Jephthah responded by giving the king of Ammon a history lesson. He explained that YHVH had never allowed the Jewish people to claim land that belonged to Moab or Ammon, people distantly related to Abraham through Lot’s daughters. He agreed that Israel had followed God’s orders on the matter to the tee. However, YHVH had allowed Israel to conquer Amorite territory (a different people, led by King Sihon) – land which had never belonged to Ammon. The territory in question was Amorite and not Ammonite territory, and therefore was a valid Israeli possession. It had even been in Israeli hands for over 300 years at that point (verse 26).
Jephthah broke off the diplomatic process with the warning, “I have not sinned against you, but you wronged me by fighting against me. May YHVH the Judge render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon” (verse 27).
Praying the prayer of Jehoshaphat
What was true in Jephthah’s case is even more true in the case of Gaza. Whereas God told Israel not to invade or conquer Ammon and Moab, He definitely promised the entire land of Canaan (which borders include Gaza – see Genesis 10:19; Joshua 10:41; 11:22; 15:47; Judges 1:18; 1 Kings 4:24) to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
King Jehoshaphat was confronted with a similar situation in his day – Arab invasions from Ammon, Moab and Edom – and he, like Jephthah, reminded God in prayer of the same covenantal promises to Abraham.
- As Israel today confronts the same enemies who are engaged in the same fight to destroy us, and who are arguing with us about the same territories, perhaps we could together pray the prayer of Jehoshaphat as we ask God to confront and defeat His enemies (see Psalm 83:2-5).
“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir,
whose territory You would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt;
so they turned away from them and did not destroy them.
See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession
You gave us as an inheritance.
Our God, will You not judge them?
For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.
We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You” (2 Chronicles 20:10-12)
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do!
In Messiah Yeshua,
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