In that day, I will restore David’s fallen sukkah. I will repair it’s broken walls and restore it’s ruins. I will rebuild it as in the days of old.

– Amos 9:11

War in Gaza

Over the past few days limited warfare has broken out between Hamas (Muslim Brotherhood) terror groups in the Gaza Strip and Israel. Over 110 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza and Sinai onto Israeli civilian farms, villages, towns and cities. Israel Air Force Iron Dome anti-missile batteries have brought donw the lion’s share of these rockets. Apart from a few score cases of shock and light scratches, there have been no Israeli fatalaties.

Over the past week Israel has warned Hamas that if the rocket fire would continue, Israel would be forced to respond strongly. For the past week nearly one million Israeli have had to run to the safety of bomb shelters at any hour of the day or night, with between 15 and 60 seconds of advance warning. Similar rocket attacks have gone on over the past ten years, with Hamas firing over 10,000 rockets at Israeli civilians. Operation Cast Lead in 2009 was an attempt to quench the rocket fire, and it was succesful for a season.

Targeting the terror masters

Finally on Wednesday afternoon November 14, an IDF team composed most probably of spotters within Gaza, airborne drones and missile-equipped helicopters successfully targeted a KIA vehicle containing 52 year old Ahmed al-Jabari, commander of Hamas’ military wing, as well as up to two other highly connected Hamas operatives. Al-Jabari was originally a PLO operative who was jailed by Israel for 13 years for terror activities. In jail he came under the influence of Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, and switched his affiliation to Hamas. After his Hamas mentor (and previous commander of Hamas’ military wing) Saleh Shahadeh was killed in a targeted assassination on July 22, 2002, and Mohammed Deif (former commander of Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam military wing) was wounded in a targeted assassination attempt and went deeply underground, al-Jabari became the de facto leader of all Hamas terror activity emanating from the Gaza Strip. He was involved in the imprisonment of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit for over five years, taking the public reins in the prisoner exchange of 1,027 terrorists for Shalit.

Immediately with the successful targeting of al-Jabari, the IAFstruck multiple Hamas targets in Gaza, including other top commanders as well as hidden long-range rocket silos. These al-Fajr 5 Iranian supplied rockets have the abilitiy to hit civilian targets in the Greater Tel Aviv area, including Kfar Saba and Herzliyah. Pin-point intelligence enabled Israel to achieve surgical precision in its hits with minimal civilian collateral damage. The IDF Spokesman then announced that Operation Pillar of Cloud was being carried out, with its goals including stopping Hamas rocket fire as well as radically altering the military balance and equation.

With two hours Hamas terror rockets, located within civilian-populated areas of the Gaza Strip, began to ain down on civilian population centers in southern Israel. Ashdod, Sderot, Netivot and the farms and kibbutzim close to Gaza were all targeted. Beersheva, the city we live in had a barrage of over 20 rockets fied at it this evening, with 13 shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense. Two rockets managed to slip through the defensive umbrella, stricking a small shopping center and a parked vehicle, but only slight scratches and shock were the main results. So far 83 rockets have been shot in the past six hours, with over 25 of them successfully intercepted.

Communicating through war

The Italian philosopher Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli saw war as an essential part of political interaction. The current outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel should be seen from a similar perspective. As Muslim Brotherhood forces are strengthening themselves in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, Sudan and other countries, the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Hamas feels more ready to take chances and bolster its reputation among Gazans, many of who are favorably swayed by the more Salafist al-Qaeda terror wings who advocate immediate jihad against Israel. Swept along by this populist appeal (and agreeing with it 100% in principle if not always in practice), Hamas has publically encouraged and participated in firing of the 110 rockets in the past week, taking public credit for these attacks in world media.

Yet while Hamas wants to maintain its iron grip on power in the Gaza Strip, it is not overly thrilled about another Israel ground invasion. So it is attempting to dance on both sides of the fence, encouraging rocket fire from its own thirsty squads and Islamic Jihad, while secretly communicating to Israel that it might be interested in a soon cessation of hostilities. In the meantime Grad and Qassam rockets and mortars are being fired, while the IAF plays cat and mouse with the terror rocket-teams.

  • The situation is very fluid and volatile. Pray that Hamas will be able to stand down from ramped up hostilities, which could potentially lead to significant infrastructure damage in Gaza, as well as an Israeli ground incursion. 
  • Pray for Israel’s political, intelligence and military leaders to receive God’s revelation and strategies on how to respond with maximum effect and minimum loss of life.
  • Pray for the valiant soldiers manning (and wo-manning) the Iron Dome batteries, and for those foot-soldiers in intelligence and special operations whose safety and success are a special focus of prayer.

War in Gaza – Day Three: crossing red lines

The limited warfare between Israel and the jihadi terror group Hamas (Muslim Brotherhood) in the Gaza Strip has entered its third day. Hamas rocket squads are firing on the average 12 rockets per hour, or a minimum of 300 per day, at last count.

As the Sabbath evening fell on the Jewish state, over 550 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza and Sinai onto Israeli civilian farms, villages, towns and cities. Israel Air Force planes have responded with over 600 air attacks on long and medium range rocket silos and warehouses in Gaza, often hidden next to mosques and schools in Arab civilians areas. Israeli concerns not to injure Gaza civilians have resulted in a very low number of Arab casualities – 23 according to Palestinian sources, most of whom were armed terrorists.

Over 330 Grad and Qassam rockets fired by Hamas fell in open and unpopulated regions within Israel, while 26 have fallen in civilian areas. Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile batteries have shot down 185 rockets which were aimed at civilian areas. Three Israeli fatalaties occured Thursday morning in Kiryat Malachi (a sister city of Los Angeles), where a missile scored a direct hit on the fourth floor of a residential building. The individuals concerned were not in the safe room of their own house at the time, which was not available at the time.

The Prime Minister of Egypt paid a visit to the Gaza Strip today, and Israel declared that it would not initiate air attacks during that time. However, Hamas continued to fire missiles into Israel, lobbing more than thirty rockets against Israeli civilian targets during the Egyptian PM’s visit.

  • Rocket attacks by jihadi Islamist terror forces on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are a highly significant event, and have great motivational impact for the Islamic world.
  • This missile/anti-missile war is actually the first of its kind in the history of mankind, and points to the way battle strategy will morph throughout the world in the immediate future.

Crossing red lines

On Thursday afternoon and evening Hamas sent its missiles against the greater Tel Aviv region, striking Rishon LeZion and areas just south of Tel Aviv’s municipal boundaries. On Friday evening three rockets struck just outside of Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries. These rocket strikes are considered by Israel to be red lines whose violations cannot go unpunished.

Whereas up to this point, Israel has been willing to dialogue on a winding down of hostilities (provided that Hamas ceases its rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population), Hamas’ escalation of targets and trajectories signals that the IDF must strike in one or more of three areas:

  • targeting the heads of Hamas, both military and government
  • targeting essential infrastructure like the electrical power and water grids
  • a military incursion with the purposes of destroying rocket stores, Hamas infrastructure and leadership

A selection of Israeli army reserves has been called up. Tanks, armor, reserve special forces and infantry are flowing toward the Israeli Kisufim crossing, the usual entry point for a military invasion, allowing an effective cutting of the Strip into two.

Unless Hamas makes a very strong appeal for stand-down, it is quite likely that one or more of the three scenarios mentioned above will become a reality within 48 hours.

  • Pray for the leaders of Israel (executive, military, intelligence) that their decision will be guided by the God of Israel (see Psalm 83), that He would give them strategies on how to respond with maximum effect and minimum loss of life.
  • Pray for the believing and not-yet-believing soldiers readying for combat; for the pilots and drone operators, that they might be given skillful fingers for war (Psalm 144:1).
  • Pray for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leadership, who are comrades in arms of MB Hamas, that God would reveal Himself to them either through repentance and salvation or through military defeat (Isaiah 19:16-25, Psalm 83:9-18).

War in Gaza – Day Five: Terrorists morph into victims

Shabbat in Israel and Gaza has seen a continuation of the fighting. Over 700 hundred jihadi rockets have been fired by Hamas squads against Israeli civilians in the last four days. Over 240 of these rockets have been downed by the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile batteries. Using Beersheva as a microcosmic example – of the 250 rockets fired on Shabbat, 31 were fired against Beersheva, and of these, 16 were shot down.

The IAF has made over 1,000 bombing sorties in four days, and as of Saturday night, a total of 45 Gazans have been killed in these four days of sorties, the majority being Hamas fighters. Gazan sources say that 400 have been wounded.

To give a Middle Eastern perspective on comparative casualties, in Syria on one day of fighting (Friday November 16) 103 Syrian civilians were killed by shelling and bombing. Over 37,000 Syrians have been killed in ongoing hostilities, while 416,000 Syrians are refugees.

On Saturday at 1:20 pm  immediately after one of the Hamas rocket attacks on an apartment building in Ashdod, a man stepped out onto his smoldering balcony dressed in a Jewish tallit (prayer shawl) and shouted out to those below, “All is well!”. He had just managed to take shelter in his reinforced room before the missile struck his home. Below in the streets, a delivery truck had received a direct hit from a Grad missiles, and was covered in flames – yet no one was injured.

At 4:37 pm on Shabbat, a Fajr-5 Iranian built missile was fired at Tel Aviv. A new Iron Dome battery had gone fully operational in the greater Tel Aviv area exactly two hours before, and now received its baptism of fire, shooting down the missile aimed at the heart of Israel’s largest city. At the same time rockets were also fired (and intercepted) at Rishon LeZion, a large metropolitain area just southeast of  Tel Aviv. (Breaking news – two more Fajr-5 rockets were just fired – and intercepted – at Tel Aviv Sunday November 18 10:38 am)

Isaiah 62 turned upside down

I was driving not far from Gaza last night, and tuned into a Hamas radio station. Warlike music filled with tribal drums and boisterous male choirs chanted passages from the Koran, followed by announcements in Arabic that Grad missiles had been fired at Tel Aviv. “Allahu akbar!” (transl., Allah is the greatest) was cried out after every statement.

Two things struck me as interesting here. One is that Hamas views its rocket attacks as a valid Islamic expression of jihad. This is not about alleged Israeli injustices, or a supposed refusal to honor peace treaties. It is classic Islamic jihadi theology, as expressed in al Qaeda’s terror attacks, in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards worldwide assassinations and bombings, and in both the Muslim Brotherhood’s  covenant and Hamas’ jihadi declarations in Articles 6 and 8 of their 1988 constitution (Article 8 is also the offcial slogan of Hamas):

Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it … The Islamic Resistance Movement…strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine … Allah is our goal, the Prophet our model, the Qur’an our Constitution, Jihad our path and death for the cause of Allah our most sublime belief.”

What is rearing its head in Gaza is not a liberation movement or the cry of oppressed Arabs. It is a jihadi attack – one which begins by targeting the Jewish people, but ends up striking the Twin Towers of the West.

The second point is that the above-mentioned Hamas radio announcer kept repeating that Hamas would not stop the jihad until they reach and conquer al-Quds (the holy city of Jerusalem).

  • Hamas’ focus on Jerusalem as the goal of Islamist domination is a demonic counterfeit of the Hebrew prophet’s declaration:

I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem. They will never be silent day or night. You who call on YHVH, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth
” (Isaiah 62:6-7).

When terrorists cry crocodile tears

There is an Arabic proverb, “He hit me, started to cry, and went straight to the judge to sue me.” There is alot of Middle Eastern truth in this folk saying. In order to unpack its application in the current situation, a short history needs to be given:

  • In August 2005 Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdraws Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip (see our newsletters from August 2005, and Dec 23, 2008, “The coming war with Hamas”)
  • In January 2006 democratic elections (forced through by the USA, and observed by President Carter, http://articles.cnn.com/2006-02-01/world/carter.hamas_1_hamas-leaders-palestinian-parliament-palestinian-elections?_s=PM:WORLD) in the Gaza Strip bring Hamas to power, setting off vendettas against rival PLO gunmen
  • By December 2008 Hamas fires over 8,000 rockets into Israel targeting civilians, setting off Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s military incursion into Gaza.
  • On and off since the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead (January 2009), Hamas has continued to smuggle missiles into Gaza through Egyptian monitored tunnels, and has continued to fire missiles at Israeli civilians, bringing the total to over 12,000 missiles fired at Israel
  • In the past two weeks, Hamas terror groups have blown up an explosive tunnel under IDF forces, hoping to kidnap Israeli soldiers; they have fired an anti-tank missile into Israel at a routine IDF patrol jeep, blinding and severely wounding Israeli soldiers on the Israeli side of the security fence; they have placed a booby trapped IED bomb beside a border crossing gate on the Israeli side of the fence, nearly killing an Israeli officer who was opening the gate, causing him to have one of his hands amputated; they have fired more than 110 rockets into Israeli cities, twons, villages, kibbutzim and farms.

As a result of these terror activities, Israel had put Hamas on the alert that it would retalitiate quite painfully if these attacks continued. No cessation of Hamas terror came to pass; indeed, Hamas attacks increased. This is the context for Israel’s targeted killing of Ahmed al-Jabari, Hamas’ top military commander.

As a result of this successful killing, Hamas unleashed a storm of rockets on Israel, while IAF planes continued to succesfully downgrade long-range rockets storehouses in Gaza, and pull off various targetings of mid to high level Hamas operatives.

Israel’s successes in shooting down terror rocket attacks in the air while destroying Hamas rocket stores on the ground (hidden among Gaza’s civilian population) has engendered a conflicted response on the part of Hamas and the Islamic world. Instead of proudly boasting that Muslim Brotherhood forces are being martyred on the path of Allah’s jihad, they are complaining that Israel is guilty of aggression, massacre, war crimes etc. The Arab League (which has been strangely silent for many months about the mass murders, massacres and slaughter in Syria) has sprung into action, crying that Israeli aggression must not go unpunished.

Recent history shows that the Arab League is not only hypocritical in these matters, but has itself advocated genocide against the Jewish state. In May 14, 1948 the Secretary-General of the Arab League Azzam Pasha declared at a Cairo press conference (reported the next day in the New York Times) regarding the coming Arab invasion of Israel, “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”

The present strident shouts coming from the Arab and Islamic world are both cowardly and deceptive. Unfortunately they are causing the hearts of the leaders of the European Union, the United Nations and the United States to tremble. In order to placate these volatile customers and clients, the leaders of the West are pressuring Israel to stand down and not crush its mortal enemy Hamas’ ability to murder Israel’s civilian population.

Egypt the broken reed

In Isaiah 36:6 the prophet describes Egypt’s political and military reliability in the following words, “Behold, you rely on the staff of this crushed reed, even on Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him.”

Egypt is ruled by Muslim Brotherhood follower President Mohammed Morsi, who is hoping to shortly receive over 11 billion dollars in international aid in the near future (from the EU, IMF, and USA) if he plays his cards right. To do this successfully, he must not appear too jihadi, even though he, his constituency, his organization’s constitution and his holy book all call for jihad. Hamas creates a peculiar trial for Morsi. They are his comrades-in-arms, so to speak. They are standing as the spear point against the “infidel Zionist entity.”  Yet their rocketing of Israel forces Morsi to squirm, since he does not prefer to side openly with Hamas in this war. His strategy is probably to try to redefine the hostilities in a way that makes Israel look monstrous, thus allowing to stand with Hamas as “the terrorist who has become a victim.”

  • Pray for Egypt’s leadership, comrades in arms to Hamas, that God would reveal Himself to them either through repentance and salvation or through military defeat (Isaiah 19:16-25, Psalm 83:9-18)
  • Pray for the leadership of Israel to make divinely birthed decisions as it is considering a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip to safeguard its own citizens (Proverbs 24:6)
  • Pray that YHVH the God of Israel would grant revelation of His heart in these matters to the leaders of Western nations (Proverbs 21:1)
  • Pray for the leaders of Israel (executive, military, intelligence) that their decision will be guided by the God of Israel (see Psalm 83), that He would give them strategies on how to respond with maximum effect and minimum loss of life
  • Pray for the believing and not-yet-believing soldiers readying for combat; for the pilots and drone operators, that they might be given skillful fingers for war (Psalm 144:1)

War in Gaza – Day Six: Context of the conflict

Fighting continues between Hamastan and Israel. As of Monday morning local time, 850 Jihadi rockets have been fired at Israeli cities, towns and farms, and 302 of these missiles have been downed by the Iron Dome anti-missile batteries. The Israeli Air Force has successfully done over 1350 sorties, mostly targeting Hamas command and control centers, rocket silos, and training camps. In most cases these locations have been deliberately placed by Hamas in the middle of population centers. Locations and personnel of the Islamic Jihad  terror group have also been targeted.

Sixteen Gazans have been killed over the past day, and 51 injured. Six of these fatalaties were members of one family who had refused to leave their home though warned by IDF text messages. Their home was located over an ammunition warehouse, while the husband was a Hamas designer and builder of terror rockets.

In one case IAF bombed a Gazan soccer field. Though that attack might be interpreted by some as being ‘anti-sport,’ in reality it is because Hamas has been using the field for rocket launchings. (As I am typing out this newsletter, I have been interrupted four times by sirens warning of missile attacks).

More than 45 rockets have been fired through the day at Negev towns, farms and cities, at Ashkelon, Ashdod and cities northeast of there, and also at Tel Aviv. In most cases these missiles have been shot out of the skies by the IDF Iron Dome teams. Rockets which make it through the Iron Dome have either landed in open areas or have hit buildings, homes and cars. Yesterday Hamas managed to fire 156 rockets, while on Saturday the amount fired was 230. This seems to reflect a downgrading of Hamas’ military ability.

There has been intense international discussion pushing for a ceasefire, with Qatar, Turkey, Egypt and the USA involved. The UN Secretary-General is due in the region some time today for discussions. The Arab League is condemning the Jewish state, while world media are beginning to turn against Israel, focusing on Gazan casualties without bothering to explain to their viewers  ‘unimportant matters of context’ – like how Hamas-initiated rocket fire and terror attacks triggered this round of hostilities.

Israel’s government has insisted that as long as rocket fire continues, and as long as Hamas continues to shoot at Israeli soldiers and civilians, there will be no ceasefire or negotiated agreements. However, since rocket fire continues unabated, it looks increasingly likely that a ground military incursion will kick in rather soon.

“Why can’t they all just sit down and talk? ”

It is difficult for many Westerners to understand the depths of religious hatred and motivation found throughout the Islamic and Arab world. These are directed sometimes at the West, sometimes at Russia, but always at Israel. The foundations of these attitudes are Koranic, and are amplified in the Islamic hadith (a kind of Oral Law compilation, considered authoritative by all Muslims). According to these perspectives, the Jewish people have no right to any part of the land of Israel, and it is the duty and obligation of all Muslims to wage jihad against the Jews and all who stand with them. It is not a war about borders, or about refugees, or about Western influence. It is a war of Islamist annihilation targeting Jews both in Israel and around the world.

  • Sheikh Hussein Massawi, former head of Hezbollah, declared regarding Israel, “We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.”
  • Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, co-founder and former head of Hamas, announced, “Make no mistake. There will be no peace as long as there is a Zionist-Jewish state. Our holy goal is to liberate all of Palestine, and if the Jews do not go, they will die. All of Palestine is Islamic land – every inch.”
  • Articles 6 of Hamas 1988 constitution declares that “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it … The Islamic Resistance Movement…strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.”
  • Article 8 is the official slogan of Hamas, and it is not ashamed to announce that  Allah is our goal, the Prophet our model, the Qur’an our Constitution, Jihad our path and death for the cause of Allah our most sublime belief.

This last point (Article 8) is also the slogan of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.  It is curiously perverse that Western governments insist on describing Egypt’s government as peaceful, while all the while the Islamic world and serious students of Islam know what the Brotherhood really stands for (see “Hurtling through the fog of war: a Messianic perspective on the new Hamastan” at www.davidstent.org, February 2006).

Deceptive ceasefires do not equal peace

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak refused to attend President Obama’s address at al-Azhar University (Islam’s equivalent to Oxford) over precisely this point. President Obama had insisted that representatives of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood be given place of honor at the meeting. Yet the Muslim Brotherhood was Mubarak’s mortal enemy, as well as the enemy of Israel and of the West. President Mubarak realized that the handwriting was on the wall for both him and his regime. His days were numbered.

Now Egypt’s government is ruled by Mubarak’s jihadi enemies, while Hamas smuggles rockets into Gaza under Egypt’s watchful and benevolent Brotherhood eye. And Egypt’s President Morsi is a prime player in working out terms whereby Hamas can survive to fire jihadi missiles at Israel another day.

As Khaled Mashaal (Secretary-General of Hamas) declared on April 26, 2008 concerning tahadiye or hudna (Arabic words for temporary cease-fire while simultaneously preparing for renewed hostilities, “It is a tactic in conducting the struggle… It is normal for any resistance that operates in its people’s interest…to sometimes escalate, other times retreat a bit… The battle is to be run this way and Hamas is known for that…In 2003 there was a cease-fire and the operations were resumed” (Mashaal: Truce a ‘tactic’ in Palestinian struggle; AP, April 26, 2008).

Hamas really believes that its terror campaign caused Israel to withdraw from Gaza in August 2005, and that Hamas terror will cause the Jewish people to withdraw from Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheva, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the near future. In much the same way Hezbollah believes that its terror campaign drove Israel out of southern Lebanon in May 2000.

Back in July 2005 senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Dr. Mahmoud al-Zaher declared, “History has proven that the rockets…have forced Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, and they will end the occupation in the future. It’s the resistance and not the negotiations that brought about the end of the occupation” (“Hamas says rockets, not talks, brought pullout decision”, Khaled Abu Toameh, JP, Tues July 19 2005, p.3).

  • As long as Israel’s enemies are jihadi and hold to the goal of wiping out the nation and people of Israel, real peace is impossible. All negotiations only postpone the next round of hostilities, and are seen by Hamas as an opportunity to re-arm and to continue jihad.
  • Pray for the leaders of Israel to receive a revelation about its enemies’ strategies, and also about YHVH’s opposing and triumphant strategies

The bitter fruit of Sharon’s disengagement

Back in 2005 there were one or two Messianic Jewish voices in Israel which lauded Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for what they said was his ‘strategic brilliance’ in withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. More than 12,000 rockets and two wars later, let us call the things by their correct name – these declarations were mistaken and caused confusion in intercessory ranks.

PM Sharon was himself deceived into handing back Gaza into the hands of those who would quickly turn it into a terror haven. All of Israel has eaten the bitter fruit of this strategic blunder. And blunders were not only on the side of Israel’s Kadima party. The Labor party headed up by Yitzchak Rabin (and later by Shimon Peres) decided under pressure to hand over territories in Judea and Samaria (in what is called the Oslo Peace process) to the remnants of the PLO terror faction.

These areas have been used by Hamas and PLO-related terrorists to murder hundreds of Israeli citizens. As war rages in southern Israel, let us carefully consider what lessons should be learned and applied regarding Sharon’s bunglings, especially as we consider the future of central and northern Israel.

Ezekiel’s army – a preview

In Ezekiel 37 the prophet describes how YHVH will raise Israel up from spiritual death and transform her into a huge and mighty army. Psalm 110 also describes this prophetic vision in powerful colors. One of the descriptions of this last days’ military force is that God’s youth army will volunteer freely in the day of His power. As a preview of coming attractions, the past few days in Israel have seen over 91% of Israeli citizens surveyed come out strongly in favor of this military operation, and an overwhelming turnout of reserve soldiers reporting for duty.

For those who love the Jewish people and believe in their physical and spiritual destiny, praying for Israel can sometimes feel like being on a roller coaster. We recognize that Israel has not come into its full inheritance, and that repentance and return to Messiah Yeshua the Son of David is the key. Yet at the same time YHVH Himself has caused the Jewish people to return to their land, and He has no problem using them to fight battles and win wars. God even sees attacks on the Jewish people as attacks on Him as well (Psalm 83:2, 5, 12)

  • Pray for YHVH to reveal His face to His own people, even as He raises them up to be the mightiest army the world has ever know (Ezekiel 37:10

Bluster, bold lies and disinformation

During the Six Day War in June 1967, even as the Egyptian and Syrian airforces lay tattered on the ground and the cream of the United Arab Republic’s tanks burned in the Sinai desert, the Egyptian media rabidly proclaimed that Israel had been vanquished, that the IDF lay in ruins, that Tel Aviv had been captured etc. Facts on the ground bore a strikingly different witness.

Hamas TV programs have been doing much the same thing in the past two days  (www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=7998). Announcers with wide grins insist that Hamas missiles have landed on the Knesset (Israel’s parliament buildings in Jerusalem); that Tel Aviv is being deeply bombarded and its electric grid destroyed; that Ben Gurion International Airport has been shut down and flights redirected to secret military bases; that an IAF F-16 has been shot down – none of which is true. The appeal to exaggeration, propaganda and lies which has characterized some Arab nations at their worst, is once again surfacing in Hamas’ patently false panicked declarations.

Just a few minutes ago, it was revealed that Iran had in the past few hours planted a false news item in the Egyptian media – that the Egyptian government had issued a call-up for its military reserves. As soon as the Egyptian government became aware of this disinformation campaign, all media transmissions were shut down, and then immediately a public denial of this Iranian attempt to stir up war in the streets of Egypt was broadcast.

Unity in battle

Political commentators have noted that the only time the Arab world is united is when it engages in war against Israel. Similarly, the people and country of plucky little Israel are never as united as when their very existence is threatened. There is a sense of “now the gloves are off” and “now at least the pretense of peace has been stripped away.” Though many in Israel are indeed concerned about the missile attacks and are functioning with a higher level of stress, there is also a sense of hope and even the energized anticipation that often accompanies approaching battle.

Most Israelis understand that the Hamas rocket barrage cannot go on, and that only a serious degrading or crushing of Hamas’ abilities will solve that problem. Yet most Israelis also realize that the world has little interest in truly helping Israel to defeat its enemies. In fact, international pressure has tended to blunt decisive defeat of Israel’s enemies in nearly every major war Israel has fought. There has always been a race to achieve military objectives before media sympathies sour on Israel, and before the Great Powers back Israel into a corner.

As well, most Israelis do not rejoice in having to search out and destroy terrorist rat’s nests which are honeycombed among Gaza’s innocent civilians – for that will entail loss of life on both sides.

There are those who look at warfare as some perverted form of tit-for-tat. Drawing up obscene scoreboards of comparitive casualties, they pompously proclaim that if more Gazans die than do Israelis, then this is an “unjust war.” Most of those who hold these opinions know nothing about war, and are only armchair revolutionaries and summertime activists. The obscenity of these opinions is that they are unwittingly calling for more Israelis to die. This is poor math and even worse morality.

  • Pray that God’s hand will stay international pressure; that the IDF will be guided (if military incursion becomes necessary) in preserving human life while taking out enemies with great precision.
  • Pray for the believing and not-yet-believing soldiers readying for combat; for the pilots and drone operators, that they might be given skillful fingers for war (Psalm 144:1)

War in Gaza – Freeze frame

Fighting continued until the declaration of a cease-fire on Wednesday night, November 21, 2100 hours local time. Throughout the day Hamas continued to fire rockets at all the major cities across the Negev, including Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheva and Rishon LeZion, as well as a few missiles toward Tel Aviv and south of Jerusalem (near Arab villages in the vicinity of Hebron and Bethlehem).

In the Beersheva region, Hamas rockets hit the Israeli Bedouin municipality of Tel Sheva, barely a mile from where we live; Laqiya, another Israeli Bedouin town seven kilometers (four miles) from our home; and Lehavim, an Israeli Jewish bedroom community near Beersheva. Over fifty missiles exploded on or above Beersheva in the last 48 hours before the ceasefire. A house owned by a Messianic leader in Beersheva was struck by a missile; the believers at home were saved from harm by God’s protection after having taken shelter in their safe room.

As the onset of the American-Egyptian-Turkish brokered cease-fire rapidly approached, Hamas fired a crescendo of missiles at Israeli cities and towns. Even after the deadline had passed, for up to half an hour Hamas took perverse delight in firing 12 more missiles. Islamist machismo is very much a part of the equation here (see Genesis 16:12).

  • This fact alone shows that Israel is only dealing with a temporary cessation of hostilities, and not anything remotely similar to a peace process.

Six Israelis have been killed by Hamas rocket fire, while over 240 Israelis have been wounded.

Gazan casualty figures given out by Hamas are not verifiable by Western journalistic standards. Israeli sources give 120 terrorists as killed and 30 as wounded, while Hamas sources says 60/29. Israeli figures give the figure of 57 Gazan civilian casualties, while Hamas says 102.

In NATO airstrikes in Libya (up to July 13, 2011) 1,108 civilians were killed and 4,500 were wounded. No loss of life was reported on the NATO side.

  • Though we mourn for all loss of life, we recognize the hand of God in His angelic protection of the Jewish people, and we are not ashamed of His protection (see Psalms 91, 121 and 1 Samuel 18:6-7).      

What does Hamas mean by a cease-fire?

Israel has been dealing with Hamas terror for close to 30 years. For more background, see the following articles at www.davidstent.org:

  • Hurtling through the fog of war: a Messianic perspective on the new Hamastan” (February 2006)
  • The Coming War with Hamas” (December 23, 2008)
  • War with Hamas – Day Twenty-Two and Unilateral Cease-Fire” (January 18, 2009)

Sheikh Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, an Islamic teacher who devoted his life to worldwide Islamic jihad (www.religioscope.com/info/doc/jihad/azzam_caravan_1_foreword.htm), is considered the spiritual founder of Hamas. His slogan was “Jihad and the rifle alone: no negotiations, no conferences and no dialogues.” One of his famous students and disciples was Osama bin Laden.

Hamas defines itself in its 1987-88 charter as being a Gazan/Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood: “The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin)…the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era” (Article #2; in www.acpr.org.il/resources/hamascharter.html).

Article #8 in the Hamas charter is lifted from the Muslim Brotherhood’s official slogan, “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the cause of Allah its most sublime belief.”

Here are clear statements from the Hamas Charter proclaiming that a perpetual state of jihad exists between Hamas and Israel – one which requires Egypt, Turkey and the whole Islamic world to join in the destruction of Israel.

  • “The land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf (ed. irrevocably Islamic land, never to be owned again by non-Muslims) throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection. No one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country nor the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President…has that right … This is the status (of the land) in Islamic Shari’a, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force … Any demarche in violation of this law of Islam, with regard to Palestine, is baseless” (Article #11)
     
  • “(Peace) initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement … There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility” (Article #13)
     
  • “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’ (told by Bukhari and Muslim” (Article #15)
     
  • “The Arab states surrounding Israel are required to open their borders to the Jihad fighters … The other Arab and Islamic states are required, at the very least, to facilitate the movement of the Jihad fighters from and to them … Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims” (Article #28)

 

  •  “Within the circle of the conflict with world Zionism, the Hamas regards itself the spearhead and the avant-garde … (M)ore steps need to be taken by the Arab and Islamic peoples and Islamic associations throughout the Arab and Islamic world in order to make possible the next round with the Jews, the merchants of war” (Article #32)

Why a cease-fire?

Simply put, there are a handful of reasons explaining why this has happened:

  • The Islamic world’s desire to rescue Hamas from total collapse. This is especially important for the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, which sees Hamas as its spiritual cousin. Morsi and Egypt’s MB are also committed to jihad, and do not want to be part of any blunting of that message.
  • The struggles of regional powers and superpowers to be seen as being in charge, as being the major players and power brokers, as receiving credit for being the “strong horse” leaders in the Middle East (see The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations, Lee Smith, Doubleday, 2010)
  • The attempt to replace Iran’s Shi’ite jihadi influence (military, intelligence, financial) with Sunni support for Hamas’ jihad efforts
  • The fearful Western placating of the Islamic world in order to maintain oil supplies and avoid international riots
  • Israel’s desire to avoid negative international pressure as it looks down the corridor at Iran (and necessary preparations) over the next few months
  • Israel’s upcoming elections on January 22, 2103 will benefit from a cessation of hostilities until after that date

Vox populi

The overwhelming response of Israeli citizens at the beginning of Operation Pillar of Cloud was 91% in favor of ending rocket fire and terror attacks from Gaza’s Hamas against Israel. This was understood to mean “proportionate response” – whatever is required in order to get the rocket fire and terror attacks to stop. If that could be done by diplomacy, fine; if only by targeted air attacks, fine; if a ground incursion is necessary, that is also fine. “Whatever is necessary” was the consensus.

When the possibility of a cease-fire was announced, over 70% of Israelis surveyed were not in favor. They understood that a cease-fire would only delay a day of reckoning, and that Hamas is still actively committed to Israel’s destruction through jihadi terror.

Jerusalem Post op-ed writer Caroline Glick in her book Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad (Gefen Publishing House 2008) underscores the point that, though Israel has the ability and the motivation to strike a mortal blow to the regional forces of jihad, it is the deceptive power of international pressure that often strikes fear in the hearts of Israel’s leaders, causing them to abort victory on the battlefield.

  • For those who understand the dynamics of spiritual warfare (see Daniel 7:21-28; 8; 10:10-21; 12), there is not only pressure from physical kings and princes, but also from the spiritual forces of great wickedness that stand behind these thrones (Ephesians 6:10-12).
  • Pray for the leaders both of Israel and of your own nation, that YHVH the God of Jacob (Psalm 20:1) would grant revelation to them through Messiah Yeshua as to how to contend for truth, righteousness and victory in the midst of war and compromise
  • As long as Israel’s enemies are jihadi and hold to the goal of wiping out the nation and people of Israel, real peace is impossible. All negotiations only postpone the next round of hostilities, and are seen by Hamas as an opportunity to re-arm and to continue jihad.
  • Pray for the leaders of Israel to receive a revelation, both about its enemies’ strategies and also about YHVH’s opposing and triumphant strategies

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,

Avner Boskey

Donations can be sent to:

FINAL FRONTIER MINISTRIES

BOX 121971 NASHVILLE TN 37212-1971 USA

Donations can also be made on-line (by PayPal) through: www.davidstent.org

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