War With Hamas

The First 40 Hours

This is a brief analysis of the war, followed by a report of details of today’s fighting, and then specific prayer requests.

The war with Hamas began at 11:30 am Israel time on Shabbat (Saturday) December 27 – the sixth day of Hanukkah (the Feast of Dedication). The Operation was given the military name ‘Cast Lead’ or Opheret yetzuka in Hebrew, referring to the leaden dreidels (sevivon or spinning tops) played with on Hanukkah. These festive tops were once made of molten lead poured into a metal mold, and a popular Hanukkah children’s song refers to a dreidl made of “cast lead.” As God would have it, this war will be identified in the annals of Israeli history as the Hanukkah war.

Israelis have a lot of experience with war, and many significant wars are connected with certain Jewish holidays. The Yom Kippur War of October 1973 began on the Day of Atonement. The First Gulf War ended in 1991 on the first day of Purim, the Feast of Esther. The Second Intifada broke out on The Feast of Trumpets in 2000. On the Ninth of Av (Tisha b’Av) in 586 BC and 70 AD, both Jewish Temples were destroyed in Jerusalem. God is still speaking to Israel and the nations by using His prophetic calendar and His feast days (see Leviticus 23:2, 4), and this includes minor feasts like Hanukkah (see Daniel 11:29-35 and Hebrews 11:34-38).

Background to this war

After Israel withdrew or retreated from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, that region was taken over by the Islamist group Hamas (‘The Islamic Resistance Movement’; for deeper background see newsletters February 2006, June 2007 at www.davidstent.org).  This group is linked with the Muslim Brotherhood, a world jihadi group ideologically connected to Osama Bin Laden.

Hamas refuses to recognize the state of Israel. Hamas calls and plans for Israel’s military destruction. Over the past three years it has fired more than 10,000 Qassam or Grad rockets and mortars against civilians only – towns, farms and cities within Israel. And over the past week it fired between 36 and 80 rockets per day into kibbutzim, small villages and large towns. Last Saturday I went to visit some believers on a kibbutz bordering on Gaza, and during my 30 minute visit five rockets fell close by.

The government of Israel has strangely tolerated a buildup of these rocket attacks over the past three years. Though originally then-Prime-Minister Ariel Sharon soothingly promised Israelis that the disengagement from Gaza would bring peace, and if even “one rocket were fired” Israel would reconquer the Gaza Strip, the 10,000 rockets fired starkly contradict the soundness and wisdom of his policies. Part of the recent tolerance is due to the fact that the Kadima party Sharon founded is still in office, and these officials owe their political positions to these failed policies.

Over the past few weeks Israel has repeatedly warned Hamas and surrounding countries that if the rocket attacks continue, it will decisively and powerfully respond. These Israeli warnings have gone unnoticed by the world’s media, as have the rocket attacks. No country that is worthy of the name would allow terrorists to rocket their civilian populations for so long without an overwhelming response. For both Israel and Hamas, that day of response has come.

The surprise attack

As Palestinian rocket attacks have increased, Israel has spent the past year culling intelligence in preparation for a decisive counter-attack. Hamas command and control (CC) centers, arms depots, senior residences, training camps, rocket launcher sites and Qassam factories – all were located and charted.

On Saturday at 11:30 am 64 Israeli fighter jets and attack helicopters attacked and destroyed 50 strategic Hamas sites in 3 minutes and 45 seconds. A half hour later, another sortie of 20 plans hit 50 more sites, including underground launchers and bunkers. 95% of the hits were ‘alpha’, meaning exact strikes with no collateral damage.

Strategic targets

Over 240 strategic sites have been hit in the past 40 hours. One site hit was the Hamas police compound, where 80 gunmen were gathered. At other ammo dumps and command centers at least another 50 terrorists were killed. At other smaller CCs a total of 92 terrorists were killed.

On Sunday Israeli jets struck and destroyed 40 underground tunnels used by Hamas to smuggle in significant amounts of weapons, explosives and anti-tank/anti-aircraft missiles in a 3 minute 20 second sortie. This area is called the Philadelphi Corridor, and was surrendered to Hamas by Israel due to significant U.S. State Department pressure in 2005. Over 700 tunnels have been dug, and most are still operative.

Up to this point Hamas rocket squads have managed to fire more than 70 rockets at Israel, and Israel’s Military Intelligence believes that Hamas has the ability and reserves to fire up to 200 rockets daily for quite some time.

On Sunday one Hamas rocket traveled 37 kilometers, hitting Gan Yavne a bedroom community east of Ashdod. This means that other towns including Gedera and Beersheva (where we live) are in possible range of Hamas rockets. The Home Front Command has ordered public bomb shelters to be opened in these two ns beginning Monday morning. Pray for the Israeli civilians in rocket range of Hamas mortars and rockets (Qassams and Grad rockets, capable of reaching Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat and Beersheva).

The question of casualties

The casualty rate in Gaza has now reached 300 (most of these terrorists), with over 1,000 wounded.

The IDF takes great pains to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas deliberately locates its centers and fires its rockets from within civilian centers. Hamas rockets only target civilians, while the IDF tries very hard to only target terrorists. Due to the immediate proximity of civilians to rocket launchers and Hamas headquarters, there have certainly been some civilian casualties.

Israeli army intelligence has warned and even done mass telephoning of Gazan civilians, urging them to stay away from potential target areas. Though civilian casualties are deeply regretted, they are known in military parlance as collateral damage. General William Tecumseh Sherman once remarked (based on his American military experiences) that “war is hell.” We agree, even though it is sometimes necessary.

The Palestinian terror groups unfortunately see these casualties in a positive light – as helpful grist in their propaganda mills. They immediately tell the world media that Israel is targeting civilians and causing massacres.

One prime example of this tactic was during Operation Defensive Shield (March 2002), triggered by Hamas terrorists who killed 30 Jews (including Holocaust survivors) and injured 140 at a public Passover meal in Netanya Israel. IDF troops retook control of major West Bank cities which had become suicide bomber havens. The army took great pains to avoid civilian casualties, suffering many fatalities in this process. Nevertheless, the Palestinian media accused Israel of a bloodthirsty massacre of over 500 civilians in Jenin. That number was eventually dropped to approximately 56 terrorists, most in uniform, and  7 or 8 civilians (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Defensive_Shield).

One 58 year old Jewish man was killed this Saturday in his apartment by a Hamas rocket, and 10 Israelis have been wounded. We thank God for the protection He has granted so far to Israelis, and we strongly encourage you to pray for continued safety!

Prayer requests

➢      Pray for the leadership of Israel – that the God of Israel will give them clarity, strategy, courage and discernment (2 Kings 6:8-12)

➢      Pray for Gaza’s leadership – that God would frustrate their plans, operations and strategies (Psalm 83:4, 9-15)

➢      Pray for the civilian population of Gaza, many who support the terror – that God in His mercy would reveal Himself to many as their Savior and Prince of peace (Jonah 3:8-9)

➢      Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jewish people (Psalm 122:6; Romans 10:1)

➢      Pray for the struggling tiny community of believers in Gaza, some who have been tortured or martyred by Islamists in recent days

➢      Pray for the Jewish believers in the Negev area bordering on Gaza, some who contend with daily rocket attacks

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Day Three

This is a report of details of today’s fighting, followed by a brief analysis of the war, and then specific prayer requests.

Monday has been another day of air attacks against the infrastructure, military leadership and weaponry of the Islamist group Hamas. It has also been another day of rocket fire against Israeli cities, towns and farms.

Air attacks

IAF planes targeted weapons caches, some of which were hidden inside mosques. Video footage from Israeli UAVs (drones or unmanned aerial vehicles) show Hamas pickup trucks being loaded with long-range Grad missiles and then heading to the northern Gaza Strip to be relocated or fired against Israeli cities. The truck was taken out by air-to-ground Israeli rockets, causing a huge explosion of ordnance.

In one case, a mosque was hit and its ammunition dump destroyed. As the mosque toppled over, it crushed an adjoining house, causing five fatalities. For these reasons the Israeli Military Intelligence has been telephoning civilian house in Gaza prior to the air raids, and warning civilians to immediately vacate the premises and to stay away from weapons caches.

Today government building associated with Hamas and symbolizing their rule over the Palestinian populace were targeted, including the Ministries of Culture and the Interior. Though the buildings were empty, they have enormous symbolic value for Gazans.

A concerted effort is also being made to target military leaders of Hamas, most of whom are underground in deep bunkers – similar to Viet Cong strategies in the late 1960’s. On Monday Maher Zakut (age 30) the commander of Hamas’s rocket-firing forces, was successfully targeted, as well as Ziyad Abu-Tir, 36, a senior activist in the Islamic Jihad terror group.

Two research-and-development laboratories located on the Islamic University campus in Gaza City were destroyed. These labs were involved in weapons development, as well as in work to increase the range of the Qassam and Grad rockets.

A total of 350 Arab fatalities to date have been tabulated by Hamas. Although Hamas insists that they are 99% civilian deaths, according to yesterday’s UN figures, only 51 of these were civilians. Again of these 51, approximately 30 were women or children. This relatively low figure shows how strenuously the IAF is trying to avoid civilian fatalities, even though Hamas deliberately sets up its command and control (CC) centers and ammo dumps in the heart of civilian areas.

Pray for the Israeli pilots who need to make split second decisions where many lives could hang in the balance. Pray that God would give them the necessary accuracy, wisdom and discernment. Pray for the salvation of many Gazans (physically and spiritually) during this time of trial.

Hamas rocket fire

On Monday over 73 rockets have been targeted against the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon, as well as against kibbutzim in the area.

At 9:29 am a Grad rocket fired by Hamas struck a construction site in Ashkelon, killing an Israeli Bedouin Arab worker, Hani al-Mahdi (27) from the Negev village of Aro’er, and injuring 30 others.

On Monday over 30 Israelis have been hospitalized, either from wounds or from shock. As I write, three attacks happened in short succession: a Hamas Grad rocket hit a moving civilian car in Ashdod (seriously wounding 2 women) and a Qassam fired by the PRC (Popular Resistance Committee, a PLO break-off group financed by Hezbollah in Lebanon) seriously wounded two Israeli men near the Gaza Strip. As well, a mortar shell killed an Israeli soldier and seriously wounded three others near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, bordering the Gaza Strip.

Much has been made in the world media of the fact that many Hamas terrorists have died but only a few Jewish people so far. The logic of these statements is obscene, because it infers that warfare should involve and equal number of fatalities on both sides for it to be a fair fight. Allow me to paraphrase a famous American Army General, George S. Patton, “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other b—– die for his.”

Pray for Gaza’s leadership – that God would frustrate their plans, operations and strategies (Psalm 83:4, 9-15)

We thank God for the protection He has granted so far to Israelis, and we strongly encourage you to keep praying for continued safety! Pray for Yeshua to reveal Himself to many through these trials.

Possible developments

The prima facie cause of Operation Cast Lead is the continuing rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza’s Hamas against Israeli civilian cities, towns and farms. Over 10,000 of these have been fired at Israel over the past three years. Israel has stated that Hamas’ ability and will to fire these missiles and rockets must be degraded and absolutely stopped. Even though the air attacks have been quite powerful and accurate, Hamas is continuing to fire rockets and cause Israeli fatalities and casualties.

On Monday Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced, “Unless the criminal fire at Israeli citizens stops immediately, Israel will utilize all the legal means at its disposal in order to halt the enemy’s aggression.” These words convey a meaning that all Israelis understand. A ground operation is only a short matter of time.

Over the past few days a total of 6,500 Israeli reservist have been called up, while tanks, APCs, artillery batteries, Paratroops and Golani Brigade infantry have been taking up holding positions facing the Gaza Strip. Monday morning all access roads leading to the Gaza Strip have been closed to civilian traffic.

Pray for the leadership of Israel who are even now making monumental decisions regarding the upcoming ground operation – that God will grant them His strategies, wisdom, courage and discernment (2 Kings 6:8-12)

Other prayer requests

➢      Pray for the Israeli special forces, infantry, tanks and artillery who will be involved in the fighting. Ask God to send angelic warriors to stand with them, to protect them and to grant them victory (Judges 5:20)

➢      Pray especially for the believing soldiers who will be participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16)

➢      Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jewish people (Psalm 122:6; Romans 10:1)

➢      Pray for the struggling tiny community of believers in Gaza, some who have been tortured or martyred by Islamists in recent days

➢      Pray for the Jewish believers in the Negev area bordering on Gaza, some who contend with daily rocket attacks

War With Hamas – Day Four

This is a report of details of today’s fighting, followed by a brief analysis of the war, and then specific prayer requests.

Tuesday has seen a reduced number of air attacks against the infrastructure, homes and offices of military leadership and weaponry of the Islamist group Hamas. It has also been another day of extended rocket fire against Israeli cities, towns and farms.

The air war

Continued targets included houses and offices of Hamas leadership, both military and administrative. More tunnels used for smuggling weapons were bombed along the border with Egypt, which has allowed Hamas over the years to bring in vast quantities of armaments to Gaza . Flyers were air-dropped prior to these bombing runs, urging civilians to evacuate the area immediately. Approximately 60 tunnels have been destroyed, though there are at least 600 still functioning. Many potential targets have not been hit (ammo dumps, weapons factories, missile silos, etc) because they are totally surrounded by civilians populations.

Israeli Military Intelligence (AMAN) made over 100,000 telephone calls into Gaza urging Gazans to stay away from Hamas weapons caches and command and control centers. Calls have been placed to Hamas leaders’ homes, ordering families out before bombing runs were made. As well, Hamas radio stations have been hijacked by the IDF at times to broadcast warnings of impending bombings.

These efforts flatly contradict the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s rebuke to Israel that it is using “excessive force in Gaza.” When the most advanced air force in the world is attacking terror nests deliberately placed in the middle of civilian populations, and after 4 days of pinpoint bombing has only caused 80 civilian casualties, one should expect that a man of Ki-Moon’s stature would make more accurate and less propagandistic declarations.

In more than 500 IAF sorties, a total of 380 Arab fatalities and 1,800 injured to date have been tabulated by Hamas.

Pray for the Israeli pilots who need to make split second decisions where many lives could hang in the balance. Pray that God would give them the necessary accuracy, wisdom and discernment. Pray for the salvation of many Gazans (physically and spiritually) during this time of trial.

Hamas rocket fire

From Monday night to Tuesday night over 40 rockets have been targeted against Israeli cities and farms. There have also been four Israeli fatalities to date. Among them:

Late Monday night a mortar fired by Gazan Arabs killed an Israeli Druze Arab serving in the IDF, Master-Sergeant Lutfi Nasser ad-Din (age 38) from Dalyat al-Carmel near Haifa, and wounded 4 others near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, adjoining the Gaza Strip.

At 9.00 pm Monday night a Grad rocket fired by Hamas killed Irit Shitrit, age 39 and mother of 4 children. She was returning home from a workout at a local fitness center in Ashdod when the rocket struck her and her sister Ayelet.

Hamas increased the range of rockets fired on Tuesday, hitting the towns of Ofakim, Netivot and Yavne (41 kilometers from Gaza), as well as near the cities of Kiryat Malachi and Rahat (Rahat is Israel’s largest Bedouin Arab town with a population of more than 40,000).

At 8:56 pm air raid sirens wailed in our own community of Omer adjoining Beersheva, and we heard two explosions. Hamas shot two Grad rockets toward Beersheva, Israel’s sixth largest city. One landed in an open field and the other struck an empty kindergarten, causing devastation and fire. Fifty five civilians were hospitalized for shock. All schools are closed today in Beersheva (43,000 children) as well as in 91 other kibbutzim and regional farms in the Negev.

Nearly 200 rockets have been fired by Hamas to date.

World media continues to stress that fewer Israelis are being wounded or killed than Gazans, as if this were not a war but a macabre chess game. Would it be fair to ask if too few British or American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as they battle al Qa’eda? Such questions are disgusting, and only give succor to the enemy.

Pray for Gaza’s leadership – that God would frustrate their plans, operations and strategies (Psalm 83:4, 9-15)

We thank God for the protection He has granted so far to Israelis, and we strongly encourage you to keep praying for continued safety! Pray for Yeshua to reveal Himself to many Israelis through these trials.

Other news

Over 100 trucks carrying humanitarian aid (food and medical supplies) were allowed into Gaza by Israel, much of the aid coming from Jordan and Turkey. Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan accused Israel of crimes against humanity, while an Israeli flag was publicly burned in Jordan’s Parliament session.

In Iraq one hundred Sunnis demonstrated against Israel, but the demonstration was interrupted by a suicide bomber on a bicycle who blew himself up, killing and wounding many.

Over 300 Israeli Arabs have been arrested for rioting against the war. Approximately 170 are still in custody. Most of these demonstrations have been in Jerusalem (93 arrested) and in the North.

Top Saudi and Taliban Islamic clerics have called for world jihad and indiscriminate international attacks against Israelis and Jews. Mass demonstrations against Israel occurred in Beirut, Amman, Cairo and Teheran. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanese Hezbollah, addressed Beirut crowds from an undisclosed location. He has only been seen once in public since the Lebanese war of August 2006, fearful of an Israeli assassination attempt. He called for the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who sees Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood as his own mortal enemies. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that Hezbollah want “for there to be chaos in Egypt as there is in their country.” Gamal Abdel Gawad, head of the international relations unit of Egypt’s Al-Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies, said that “the Palestinian cause is a major bribe used by the radicals to legitimate their aims and further Iranian hegemony in the Middle East.”

A vessel charted by the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement attempted to run a blockade of Gaza, and was turned back by an Israeli missile boat. Al Jazeera and CNN reporters were on board, as well as Sami El-Haj, a former detainee at Guantanamo and ex-Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (Georgia, 2008 Green Party candidate).

Israeli children in Ashkelon are studying in bomb shelters.

Boots on the ground?

Israeli tanks, artillery batteries, infantry and special forces continue to mass at the edge of Gaza . Navy ships are hovering just off shore in the blue Mediterranean waters. After the Beersheva rocket attacks, another additional draft of 2,500 reservists was authorized, bringing the total to 9,200 (apart from regular standing armed forces).

Hamas has at least 2,000 rockets in hiding including long-range Grads, and advanced anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles. A former Palestinian Authority security official estimates that Hamas’ Izz ed-Din al-Qassam terror wing has over 20,000 rockets and mortars stored, as well as tens of thousands of tons of explosives. The bulk of Hamas trained army fighters (15,000) is intact, as well as the top commanders and underground command and control bunkers. Rockets are still being fired. The need to remove this threat to Israel’s population is even more pressing than ever before. The Israeli security establishment does not feel that Hamas has yet sustained a long-term strategic blow.

The mood on the street is very positive about dealing Hamas a decisive death-blow. Late Tuesday night a rumor surfaced (quickly denied by the IDF) that the Israeli Minister of Defense was examining the possibility of a 48 hour cease-fire. Hamas quickly refused any such suggestion, insisting that Israel pull back and refrain from attacking Hamas; that the borders with Egypt be opened for greater smuggling of weapons; and that Hamas would hold onto its rocket arsenal for use as and when it sees fit.

On Monday Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced, “Unless the criminal fire at Israeli citizens stops immediately, Israel will utilize all the legal means at its disposal in order to halt the enemy’s aggression.” These words convey a meaning that all Israelis understand. A ground operation is only a short matter of time.

Tuesday night the heads of security, defense and government met in a closed door session. Decisions were taken as to the next steps, but there is a total media blackout on their decisions.

Pray for the leadership of Israel who are even now making monumental decisions regarding the upcoming ground operation – that God will grant them His strategies, wisdom, courage and discernment (2 Kings 6:8-12)

Other prayer requests

➢      Pray for the Israeli special forces, infantry, tanks and artillery who will be involved in the fighting. Ask God to send angelic warriors to stand with them, to protect them and to grant them victory (Judges 5:20)

➢      Pray especially for the believing soldiers who will be participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16)

➢      Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jewish people (Psalm 122:6; Romans 10:1)

➢      Pray for the struggling tiny community of believers in Gaza, some who have been tortured or martyred by Islamists in recent days

➢      Pray for the Jewish believers in the Negev area bordering on Gaza, some who contend with daily rocket attacks

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Day Five

This is a report of details of Tuesday’s fighting, followed by a brief analysis, and then specific prayer requests.

Tuesday has seen another red line crossed with escalation of Hamas rocket attacks against Israel’s fifth largest city Beersheva, and a corresponding escalation on the Israeli side through targetings of Hamas leaders. Preparations for a ground operation are complete.

The Islamist group Hamas has fired over 10,000 rockets and mortars against civilian targets in Israel over the past 8 years. Sporadic firing of rockets against Israel continued during a recent temporary “cessation of hostilities”, and that season was used by Hamas to build up forces and weaponry in preparation for the present continued attacks on Israel.

Two weeks ago Hamas refused to extend even that partial cease-fire and began intensive rocketing Israeli kibbutzim, towns and cities on the average of 40-50 attacks a day. We thank the God of Israel that He is granting an amazing measure of protection to His people (see Leviticus 26:8; 1 Samuel 18:7; Psalm 91:7) and encourage you to pray for the safety and peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jewish people (Psalm 122:6; Romans 10:1).

Escalation – Hamas attacks Beersheva

Taking a page from Hezbollah’s tactics in August 2006, Hamas has long threatened to hit major Israeli cities. Their weapon of choice are Katyusha rockets manufactured in China and Iran, packed with screws, bolts and ball bearings to maximize casualties, and topped off with ammonia to increase explosive power.

The 122 mm Grad-model has been used recently to hit Sderot, Netivot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gan Yavne, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat, Rahat, moshavim just outside of Beersheva and now Beersheva itself. These rockets are smuggled through Yemen, Eritrea, and Sudan, and finally brought across the very porous border with Egypt. Hamas’ demand that these borders (the Philadelphi Corridor) be thrown wide open is basically the demand to be allowed to resupply and continue rocket attacks against Israel.

Over the past 36 hours 80 rocket attacks have struck Israel from Gaza. Nine Grads have been fired into Beersheva, and have made impact not far from our home. One demolished a children’s playground (Tuesday evening), another destroyed a high school classroom (Wednesday 9:30 am). There would have been many casualties, but the Mayor of Beersheva had decided at 4 am Wednesday morning to close all schools in the Beersheva area, keeping 43,000 children at home.

A total of 200,000 schoolchildren are sitting at home today from Ashdod through Beersheva. Grads have fallen within the municipal boundaries of these cities, and air raid sirens sound from time to time. Those who have lived through the London Blitz or Saddam Hussein’s Scud attacks have a sense of déjà-vu all over again.

In the over 540 IAF sorties which have been carried out, a total of 400 Arab fatalities and close to 2,000 with various injuries to date have been tabulated by Hamas.

Pray for the Israeli pilots who need to make split second decisions where many lives could hang in the balance. Pray that God would give them the necessary accuracy, wisdom and discernment. Pray for the salvation of many Gazans (physically and spiritually) during this time of trial.

Israeli response – targeting leaders

In response to the rocket attacks on Beersheva, increased IAF over flights have been taking place. A top Islamic Jihad terror leader was successfully targeted.

A mosque used for storing rockets was destroyed. In Muslim tradition, mosques have sometimes been gathering places for encouraging, stirring up and supporting jihad. They have been used to shelter combatants and as a base from which to attack unbelievers. In recent UAV reconnaissance flights over Gaza, Israeli drones have positively identified terror leaders gathering and using mosques as command and control centers – to brief ground forces and distribute rockets. Though such behavior is not an accepted part of modern Western culture, the Islamist use of houses of worship in jihad or holy war has definite historical precedent in the Middle East.

More than 250 rockets have been fired by Hamas into Israel over the past 6 days.

Pray for Gaza’s leadership – that God would frustrate their plans, operations and strategies (Psalm 83:4, 9-15).

Ground operation approaching

Though there is a total news blackout on Israeli military preparations and timing, it is being reported that all preparations have been completed for a ground forces invasion. Only the green light is lacking.

Though the IAF air attacks have been comprehensive, the military forces of Hamas are still untouched. This terror army is waiting for an Israeli incursion, convinced that they will be able to inflict heavy casualties on the IDF. Roadside IEDs (improvised explosive devices), huge explosives concealed under newly paved roads, anti-tank and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles certainly await the IDF.

➢      We ask you to pray for the military leadership of the IDF regarding the decisions they are making concerning the upcoming ground operation – that God will grant them His strategies, wisdom, courage and discernment, as He did to the prophets and armies of Israel in Elisha’s day (2 Kings 6:8-12).

➢       Pray for the Israeli special forces, infantry, tanks and artillery who will be involved in the fighting. Ask God to send angelic warriors to stand with them, to protect them and to grant them victory (Judges 5:20).

➢      Pray especially for the believing soldiers who will be participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen their families with His power and sovereign love.

A special prayer request

We would ask for special prayer for Jerusalem’s Border Police. They have been working 12 hour shifts around the clock, and all leaves have been cancelled. Night duties involve apprehending terror suspects. Some fatigue is setting in, and they have been away from their families for an extended period of time (2 Samuel 11:9-11). The MAGAV (Border Patrol) is expecting serious riots on Friday at the Temple Mount and in some Arab areas of East Jerusalem. We believe that praying saints can seriously alter the plans of the enemy in Jerusalem. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem in a special way today and tomorrow!

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Day Six

This is a report of details of Thursday’s fighting, followed by a brief analysis, and then specific prayer requests.

➢      Hamas long-range Katyusha rocket attacks continue against Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheva.

➢      The IAF successfully targeted Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders.

➢      Preparations for a ground operation are complete, but there seems to be hesitation on the part of Israel’s political leadership to move ahead.

Hamas rockets Negev cities

Hamas fired 52 rockets on strictly civilian targets on Thursday, focusing on Israel’s 5th, 6th and 13th biggest cities – Ashdod, Beersheva and Ashkelon. Yesterday our city of Beersheva was hit 8 times by Grad katyushas, while Ashkelon was hit 9 times. There were no Israeli fatalities, and only a handful of people were injured, though many are suffering from shock.

➢      We thank the God of Israel that He is granting an amazing measure of protection to His people (see Leviticus 26:8; 1 Samuel 18:7; Psalm 91:7) and encourage you to pray for the safety and peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jewish people (Psalm 122:6; Romans 10:1).

In close to 600 IAF sorties, approximately 450 Arab fatalities and over 2,000 with various injuries to date have been tabulated by Hamas. Possibly up to 25% of these figures are civilian human shields who lived beside or on top of Hamas facilities, ammo dumps and command-and-control (C3) centers.

➢      Pray for the Israeli pilots who need to make split second decisions where many lives could hang in the balance. Pray that God would give them the necessary accuracy, wisdom and discernment. Pray for the salvation of many Gazans (physically and spiritually) during this time of trail.

IAF targets top Hamas commanders

The IAF targeted top Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists with some measure of success. Five leaders were bombed, including Hasim Drili (Hamas weapons lab in North Gaza), Nabil Amrin (senior Hamas Battalion commander in Sheikh Radwan), Mohammad Baroud (PRC head of all North Gaza rocket cells), Tafik Abu Raf (Hamas weapons lab in central Gaza) and Nizar Rayyan (senior Hamas top echelon commander in Jabalya). In every case, after the IAF bombing a lengthy series of secondary explosions revealed that each home base was being used as an ammunition depot for rockets, mortars and explosives.

Due to intense media coverage of the Nizar Rayyan bombing, it would be beneficial to give some background which is germane for all of the above bombings.

Sheikh Nizar Rayyan was one of Hamas’ senior leaders and the spiritual leader of Hamas’ military wing Izz ad-Din al Qassam. Married to four wives, he had 12 children. He was considered an authority on Mohammed’s teachings which are found in the Hadith. He was a mufti or issuer of fatwas (religious rulings) supporting suicide bombings. Recently he was intensively advocating for a return to suicide terrorism.

On October 3 2001 Rayyan (age 60) sent one of his twelve sons on a suicide attack against the Israeli kibbutz Alei Sinai, where two Israelis were murdered. On march 14 2004 he masterminded a terror attack on Ashdod Port where 10 Israelis were murdered. He remained in personal communication with the kidnappers of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Prior to the IAF bombing, he received a phone call from Israeli Military Intelligence urging all inhabitants to leave the building. In response, some Hamas security personnel went up on the rooftop and indicated that they would not leave. IAF pilots then executed a tactic known as “knocking on the roof” (ed., and not the door – ‘hakesh bagag’ in Hebrew). An air-to-surface rocket with a low explosive charge was fired into one corner of the roof. Immediately the protesters fled the building.

After a few minutes a 2,200 pound bomb was dropped on Rayyan’s home, killing him, all four of his wives, most of his children, and two bodyguards. Secondary explosions quickly followed; the building was used as a munitions depot, a communications center and a hub in a network of underground military tunnels.

Nearly none of these pertinent facts were communicated by Western media. The focus was on the physical damage and the fatalities. As it is said in Bible study methods, “a text without a context is a pretext.”

Other developments

Gazan residents of al Nada near the Erez Crossing have been evacuating in fear of a possible IDF incursion, as have most Gazan villages close to potential IDF invasion points.

The IAF struck five mosques around Gaza, all of which were being used as command-and-control centers, ammo dumps and terror centers – as secondary explosions of rockets and explosives indicated. Also targeted were five contraband tunnels on the Philadelphi Corridor bordering Egypt, used to smuggle in Katyusha rockets and explosives.

All access routes from the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) into Israel have been closed until Saturday night based on security considerations.

A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a passing car in the Arab area of Nazareth, Israel, with no injuries. There is a security concern in Israel that some Israeli Arabs amy engage in seditious activities at this time. Pray for the Israeli Arab communities that they would choose to bless and not curse the Jewish people and state (Genesis 12:3; Psalm 120:5-6).

The London Times reported that Israeli defense officials believe that Hamas has obtained dozens of long-range Iranian Fajr-3 missiles (240 mm, range 45 km or 30 miles) which might bring the nuclear installation of Dimona within range of Hamas.

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri declared that Israel has crossed red lines by targeting Nizar Rayyan (who of course seemed to have not crossed any red lines when he targeted Israeli civilians!) and that painful responses would be forthcoming.

➢      Pray for Gaza’s leadership – that God would frustrate their plans, operations and strategies (Psalm 83:4, 9-15).

Ambivalence regarding a ground invasion?

Though the IAF air attacks have been comprehensive, Army Intelligence (AMAN) believes that the military forces of Hamas are still untouched. Hamas is anticipating an Israeli land-based incursion, convinced that they will be able to inflict heavy casualties on the IDF. Roadside IEDs (improvised explosive devices), huge explosives concealed under newly paved roads, anti-tank and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles would certainly await the IDF.

On Tuesday Defense Minister Ehud Barak floated a trial balloon suggesting a potential 48 hour cease-fire, supposedly in the name of army, security and diplomatic leaders. This elicited an immediate denial from Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who believes that Hamas’ military capabilities and rocket inventories are mostly untouched. Prime Minister Olmert also disagreed with this balloon. Within 24 hours the trial balloon was punctured, but troubling questions remains. Perhaps because of concern about political fallout in the coming elections (or other unnamed reasons) the Defense Minister has been unwilling to take advantage of Hamas’ weakened state by initiating a military incursion into Gaza. General consensus is that only this type of incursion could sufficiently weaken Hamas’ ability to rebuild and utilize its rocket forces.

➢      We ask you to pray for the military leadership of the IDF regarding the decisions they are making concerning the upcoming ground operation – that God will grant them His strategies, wisdom, courage and discernment, as He did to the prophets and armies of Israel in Elisha’s day (2 Kings 6:8-12).

➢       Pray for the Israeli Special Forces, infantry, tanks and artillery who would be involved in the fighting. Ask God to send angelic warriors to stand with them, to protect them and to grant them victory (Judges 5:20).

➢      Pray especially for the believing soldiers who would be participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen their families with His power and sovereign love.

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Day Seven

This is a report of details of Friday’s fighting, followed by a brief analysis, and then specific prayer requests.

Note breaking news at bottom regarding the start of an artillery barrage

➢      30 Hamas Katyusha attacks continue against Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheva.

➢      The IAF successfully targeted Hamas leaders, smuggling tunnels

➢      Ground operation preparations are complete.

Continuing Hamas rocketing of Negev cities

Hamas fired 30 rockets on civilian targets on Friday, focusing on Beersheva, Ashdod and Ashkelon. There were no Israeli fatalities, and only a handful of people were injured, though many are suffering from shock.

➢      We thank the God of Israel that He is granting an amazing measure of protection to His people (see Leviticus 26:8; 1 Samuel 18:7; Psalm 91:7) and encourage you to pray for the safety and peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jewish people (Psalm 122:6; Romans 10:1).

IAF attacks

More than 750 targets have been destroyed to date in IAF sorties. According to Hamas sources, there have been approximately 450 Arab fatalities and over 2,200 with various injuries to date. U.N. sources said that more than 60 fatalities were civilians. Certainly Hamas has many civilians who live beside or on top of Hamas facilities, ammo dumps and command-and-control (C3) centers. They are for all intents and purposes Hamas’ human shields.

IAF successfully targeted Hamas military leaders senior commanders Abu Zakaria al-Jamal and the home of Imad Akel, Isma’il Ghanem (supervisor of Grad attacks in Bet Lahiya area), Izz ad-Din Haddad (Hamas commander in Gaza’s eastern sector), Muhammad Madhoun and Muhammad Ma’tuk (Jabalya). Approximately 25 targets were struck on Friday, including a control tower at Dahaniya Airport beneath which were ammunition depots, weapons stores and labs, rocket squads launching rockets, etc.

The IAF dropped Arabic leaflets urging residents to keep far away from Hamas C3 centers and weapons depots. Israeli military intelligence continued to warn residents by phone prior to air strikes.

➢      Pray for the Israeli pilots who need to make split second decisions where many lives could hang in the balance. Pray that God would give them the necessary accuracy, wisdom and discernment. Pray for the salvation of many Gazans (physically and spiritually) during this time of trial.

Background on Imad Akal

Senior commander Imad Akel, whose house was targeted yesterday by the IAF, has long been involved in terror – even against fellow Palestinians. On October 7 2002 he led a team of Hamas operatives camouflaged as Palestinian Authority (PA) police officers, and hijacked Colonel Rajeh Abu Lehiya, head of then Yasir Arafat’s PA riot police. Ikal oversaw the torture of Abu Lehiya, which included him being shot 20 times in the arms, legs and torso. His body was then dumped on a Gaza street, after which Ikal went off to a public celebration at a local market.

Other developments

Limited violent confrontation occurred on Salah ad-Din Street in East Jerusalem and in Bet Safafa, with stone throwing in Arab Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sur Baher, Shuafat, Ras al-Amud and Wadi Joz. The Border Patrol groups there were amazed that the confrontation did not explode, and at one point 500 hostile demonstrators ended up dispersing without violence. Thanks for your prayers!

An Islamist group based in Morocco hijacked many Israeli websites yesterday, including Bank Discount and ynetnews. Arabic jihadi music, pictures of US soldiers at Abu Ghreib prison and anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jews were briefly posted on the web site.

Pray for the Israeli Arab believers and their communities – that they would choose to bless and not curse the Jewish people and state (Genesis 12:3; Psalm 120:5-6).

Ground invasion imminent

Though the IAF air attacks have been comprehensive, Army Intelligence (AMAN) believes that the military forces of Hamas are still untouched. Hamas is anticipating an Israeli land-based incursion, convinced that they will be able to inflict heavy casualties on the IDF. Roadside IEDs (improvised explosive devices), huge explosives concealed under newly paved roads, anti-tank and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles would certainly await the IDF.

General consensus is that only a land incursion will sufficiently weaken Hamas’ ability to rebuild and utilize its rocket forces.

➢      We ask you to pray for the military leadership of the IDF regarding the decisions they are making concerning the upcoming ground operation – that God will grant them His strategies, wisdom, courage and discernment, as He did to the prophets and armies of Israel in Elisha’s day (2 Kings 6:8-12).

Breaking news

As of 4:44 pm Saturday, January 03, 2009 IDF artillery started to shell targets in the northern Gaza Strip. This is probably the beginning of a land incursion, to be followed by a lightning insertion of Special Forces and ground troops.

➢       Pray for the Israeli Special Forces, infantry, tanks and artillery who would be involved in the fighting. Ask God to send angelic warriors to stand with them, to protect them and to grant them victory (Judges 5:20).

➢      Pray especially for the believing soldiers who would be participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen their families with His power and sovereign love.

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Days Eight & Nine

This is a report of details of Saturday’s and Sunday’s fighting, followed by a brief analysis, and then specific prayer requests.

➢      The IDF began its ground invasion of the Gaza Strip

➢      Over 40 Hamas terrorists and one Israeli soldier killed.

➢      Close to 100 Hamas Katyusha rocket attacks continue against Ashdod, Ashkelon and Sderot.

Ground invasion begins

The first news of the ground invasion broke at 4:44 pm Saturday with IDF artillery batteries firing into the Gaza Strip for the first time in three years. Within 75 minutes troops from Engineering and Armored Corps, Paratroopers, Golani and Givati infantry; Special Forces, Military Intelligence – at least four brigades worth – were entering into Gaza. The IDF’s military spokeswoman Major Avital Leibovitch, said, “The objective is to destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure in the area of operations. We are going to take (ed., out) some of the launch areas used by Hamas.”

Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi had met with his troops before the invasion and stated, “I have complete faith in you, the commanders and fighters. I count on you, I trust you, and I’m backing you. The people of Israel could not have asked for a better team of commanders and fighters.”

Israeli tanks, APCs and infantry broke into the Gaza Strip from four directions – Bet Lahiya and al-Atattra in the North (near Erez crossing); Bet Hanun and Jabalya (Northeast); Karni crossing (central, South of Gaza City); and Kerem Shalom crossing (South, toward Rafiah).

IAF planes dropped leaflets in Gaza on Saturday afternoon which read: “Area resident, as result of the acts undertaken by terror activists in your area against Israel, the IDF is forced to respond immediately and operate in this area. For your own safety, you are asked to leave the area immediately.”

Miltary developments

Within less than 24 hours more than 150 tanks had broken through to the shoreline south of Gaza City, effectively cutting the Strip in half and preventing resupply to Hamas’ central command holed up in Gaza City. That city has been surrounded by IDF troops, though counter-terror operations have not yet begun in the alleys of Hamas’ unofficial capital. Engineering Corps are blowing up networks of tunnels and rocket launcher sites throughout Gaza.

A naval blockade of 30 km (approximately 20 miles) has been placed on Gaza by the Israeli Navy. The land invasion has been focused on North Gaza, for that is where the majority of the Grad rockets have been fired against Beersheva, Ashdod and Ofakim.

IDF troops have been capturing Hamas gunmen who will be used in a prisoner exchange for Gilad Shalit, the Israel soldier kidnapped by Hamas and in captivity for 924 days to date.

Over 40 Hamas gunmen have been killed. One Israeli soldier, Golani Staff-Sergeant Dvir Emanuelof,  22, of Givat Ze’ev, died after being wounded in a mortar attack on Sunday close to 9 am. Twenty-five other IDF soldiers have been lightly wounded by mortar or sniper fire, and five have been seriously wounded. All have been medevac’d to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva.

➢       Pray for the Israeli Special Forces, infantry, tanks and artillery who are involved in the fighting. Ask God to send angelic warriors to stand with them, to protect them and to grant them victory (Judges 5:20).

➢      We ask you to pray for the military leadership of the IDF regarding the decisions they are making concerning the ground operation – that God will grant them His strategies, wisdom, courage and discernment, as He did to the prophets and armies of Israel in Elisha’s day (2 Kings 6:8-12).

➢      Pray especially for the more than 30 believing Messianic soldiers participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen them, grant them victory, and strengthen their families with His power, love and confidence.

Responses to invasion

The Iranian Speaker of Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said on Sunday, saying “The Zionists have encountered a strong opposition on the part of the brave Palestinians and have suffered a great blow.” This was an extremely clumsy attempt at disinformation, in light of actual facts on the ground.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed support for Israel’s ground operation in Gaza on Sunday, declaring that “every nation has the right to defend itself against terrorism and cold-blooded attacks on its people. Israel is no different and is right to defend itself against the unceasing violence of rocket attacks launched by Hamas.”

Egyptian President Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah II (the only two Arab countries to have official peace treaties with Israel) called on the UN Security Council to order a ceasefire in Gaza. The palace said that “Jordan is furious and will take whatever means necessary to stop the aggression.” Jordanian Prime Minister Nader Dahabi said that his country will re-examine its relations with Israel. Behind the scenes both countries see Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood as a clear and present threat to their governments. But publically they feel the social and political pressures of the Middle East, and have taken an official stand opposed to the incursion.

According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, a senior Iranian military official called for an oil embargo – that Islamic nations should cutback on oil exports to countries supporting Israel. On Friday Saeed Jalili, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, met in Damascus to discuss strategic plans with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Hamas Politburo head Khaled Mashal, and Islamic Jihad Secretary General Ramadan Salah (see Psalm 83).

In Sakhnin, Israel a large anti-Israel demonstration of 10,000 was addressed by Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghnaim who declared, “Long live Palestine, whose capital is Jerusalem, and long live the shahids (ed., jihad martyrs)!”

➢      Pray for the Islamic world and for Israel’s Arab communities – that they would choose to bless and not curse the Jewish people and state (Genesis 12:3; Psalm 120:5-6).

IAF attacks

More than 800 targets have been destroyed to date in IAF sorties. On Sunday IAF successfully targeted Hamas senior military leaders Hussam Hamdan, Muhammad Shalpuch and Muhammad Hilou in the Khan Yunis area, responsible for overseeing rocket attacks on Beersheva and Ofakim. Bridges connecting North and South Gaza have been destroyed as well.

According to Hamas sources, there have been approximately 550 Arab fatalities and over 2,200 with various injuries to date. U.N. sources said that more than 60 fatalities were civilians. Certainly Hamas has many civilians who live beside or on top of Hamas facilities, ammo dumps and command-and-control (C3) centers. They are for all intents and purposes Hamas’ human shields.

➢      Pray for the Israeli pilots who need to make split second decisions where many lives could hang in the balance. Pray that God would give them the necessary accuracy, wisdom and discernment. Pray for the salvation of many Gazans (physically and spiritually) during this time of trial.

Answers to prayer re rocket attacks

Hamas fired more than 40 rockets on civilian targets on Saturday and 50 on Sunday, focusing on Ashdod, Sderot and Ashkelon. There were no Israeli fatalities, and only a handful of people were injured, though many are suffering from shock. In one miraculous answer to prayer, a Grad struck a wooden house in Netivot, which was totally demolished. The old woman inside the house was lightly injured with a shrapnel scratch on her knee. Keep praying!

➢      We thank the God of Israel that He is granting an amazing measure of protection to His people (see Leviticus 26:8; 1 Samuel 18:7; Psalm 91:7) and encourage you to pray for the safety and peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jewish people (Psalm 122:6; Romans 10:1).

Up to Saturday night, 57 Israelis have been wounded in rocket attacks, 350 suffered shock, and 4 were killed. Over 440 arrests have been made of violent demonstrators in the Arab sector, of which more than 140 were minors.

Hamas execution of fellow Arabs

On Saturday night and all day Sunday, Hamas’ Internal Security Apparatus oversaw the shooting of at least 75 Palestinian Authority supporters in the legs, while others had their hands broken – all this to prevent them from supporting the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas. Wisam Abu Jalhoum, a Fatah activist from the Jabalya refugee camp, was shot in the legs by ISA agents for allegedly expressing joy over the IDF air strikes on Hamas targets. More than 35 Palestinians imprisoned in Hamas jails on suspicion of collaborating with Israel were summarily executed over the weekend.

➢       Pray for mercy on the people of Gaza; that the God of Israel would grant them deliverance from evil leaders and safety and salvation amidst the storm.

Truth is stranger than fiction

On December 19 2008 Hamas refused to extend the tottering cease-fire and began to rocket Israeli kibbutzim, towns and cities. On the evening of January 3 2009 IDF forces entered the Gaza Strip.

Those two dates eerily echo two other significant dates in the life of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the author and finisher of Israel’s “disengagement” (read “retreat”) from Gaza in August 2005.

On December 19 2005 PM Sharon had his first stroke and on the night of January 3-4 2006 he experienced his second and final stroke.

It is sobering – it brings on the fear of the Lord – to realize that, as the Author of history would have it, three years later to the day of Sharon’s two strokes, the disastrous Gaza disengagement plan has found itself sovereignly turned upside down.

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Day Ten

This is a report of details of Monday’s fighting, followed by a brief analysis, and then specific prayer requests.

➢      The IDF tightens its grip on Hamas leadership in Gaza City and Jabalya

➢      Over 100 Hamas terrorists killed, and more than 100 taken prisoner

➢      More than 50 Hamas Katyusha rocket attacks continue against coastal and Negev cities

Root canal operations

On Sunday the IDF focused on three goals: destruction of Hamas’ terror infrastructure (weapons caches, rockets and rocket launcher pads); killing Hamas gunmen; and taking prisoners (for on-site intelligence in real time and in preparation for a prisoner exchange). Minister of Defense Ehud Barak stated that the aim of the operation “is simple. No terror activity from Gaza, either against civilians or against our soldiers; a dramatic change in weapons smuggling, and quiet in the South.”

Over 100 Hamas terrorist have been killed. Over 100 have been taken prisoner and are undergoing questioning in Israel.

Heavy fighting is occurring in Gaza’s North (Beit Hanun, Beit Lahiya) and Center (Al-Bureij).  IDF troops are engaged in dismantling booby-trapped house and roads, wiping out sniper nests, blowing up rocket launchers and pads, eliminating Hamas gunmen and taking prisoners. Hidden weapons caches are being discovered in mosques, public institutions and private homes, according to Major-General Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin. There is also strong intelligence that the Hamas High Command is hiding in bunkers dug beneath Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital. These same tactics were used by the PLO in Lebanon in the 1970’s and ‘80’s, by Fatah forces in the West Bank, and by al Qa’eda in Iraq.

A Hamas spokesman boasted on Monday that they were fighting the IDF using tens of thousands of American rifles, heavy machine guns, night-vision goggles and bulletproof vests – equipment seized from the Palestinian Authority when Hamas staged a violent coup in June 2007. Then the PA collapsed as quickly as did the Shah’s Iran in January 1979, leaving much American ordnance to fall into the hands of the U.S.’s (and Israel’s) sworn enemies.

IAF planes hit 40 targets Monday, while Navy gunships hit bunkers full of Grad katyusha rockets.

➢       Pray for the Israeli Special Forces, infantry, tanks, artillery and engineers who are involved in the fighting. Ask God to send angelic warriors to stand with them, to protect them and to grant them victory (Judges 5:20).

➢      Pray especially for the close to 50 believing Messianic soldiers participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen them, grant them victory, and strengthen their families with His power, love and confidence.

On Sunday night Hamas forces attempted to kidnap an Israeli Golani Brigade soldier, luring him into a tunnel where he cornered a group of gunmen and engaged them in a firefight. He was rescued by his brothers in arms.

➢      Pray that Hamas’ demonic threat to kidnap IDF soldiers will be totally thwarted by divine revelation (2 Kings 6:8-12).

Hamas rockets and  declarations

Hamas continued to rocket Israeli Negev cities and farms on Monday, firing off more than 50 Grad and Qassam rockets against Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheva, Sderot, Netivot and Ofakim. The Israel Ministry of Health said that up to this point in Operation Cast Lead, 128 Israelis have been wounded (4 seriously and 6 moderately) and 661 have been treated for shock. Four Israelis have been killed.

Of the more than 300 rockets fired by Hamas since the start of Operation Cast Lead, 220 (73%) were fired from areas in Gaza now under IDF control.

According to Hamas sources which are not currently verifiable, fatalities in Gaza are somewhere between 500 and 555, while wounded are between 2,200 and 2,500.

Hundreds of Palestinians are fleeing the al-Atattra and Beit Lahiya areas and moving toward central Jabalya. Gaza is seeing its infrastructure go through various stages of collapse, as electricity, sewage and water services are down or sporadic. Cesspools in the streets bear mute witness to the very real spiritual sewage that Hamas has brought to the inhabitants of Gaza.

➢       Pray for the inhabitants of Gaza who have chosen to put their trust in Hamas – that God would rescue them from evil leadership and bring physical rescue and deliverance to many.

The IDF has continued to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza throughout the conflict, though Hamas has perversely shelled these very border crossings. Over the past few years it has shot and murdered Israeli truck drivers bringing in fuel supplies, as well as Jewish electricity workers repairing power lines bringing Israeli electricity into Gaza.

Hamas is threatening to fire longer-range Grad rockets which conceivably could reach Israeli cities like Rishon Le Zion and Rehovot, potentially bringing another 333,700 Israelis within rocket fire range.

Hamas senior leader Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar stated on Monday that “the problem is not the rockets, but the (ed. Israeli) occupation.” Hamas spokesman Moussa Abu Marzouk said that Hamas would rather continue to fight Israel than accept a blockade of its borders with Egypt. All of Hamas’ weapons, rockets and cash come through that border, and Hamas would not be able to attack Israel if that border were properly sealed and administrated. Hamas believes that international pressure will force Israel to stand down its operations, leaving Hamas with rockets to spare, and an open border through which to restock and prepare for the next round of terror attacks.

➢       Pray that the terror strategies of Hamas will be thwarted; that weapons smuggling through the tunnels will be totally shut down; and that righteousness will prevail over the entire Philadelphi Corridor between Egypt and Gaza.

Responses to invasion

Islamic Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erodgan declared on Monday that “Allah will sooner or later punish those who transgress the rights of innocents.” He added that Israel’s actions would “lead to its destruction.”

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem declared that the international community “must judge those responsible (ed., Israel) for the war crimes.” Such language is unseemly, coming from a leadership which, on February 2 1982, bombed, shelled and gassed 25,000 residents of Hama, Syria, killing most of them – in order to also destroy a small number of Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas-related) activists who were hiding among the city’s residents (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hama_massacre).

On Monday Egyptian secret police arrested and jailed 50 members of the Hamas-related Muslim Brotherhood who wanted to protest against Egypt’s handling of the Gaza situation.

Huge demonstrations took place against Israel in Istanbul (200,000), Rabat, Morocco (40,000), Montreal (5,000), Athens (4,000), Beirut, Melbourne and Sydney. US and Israeli flags were burned at these demonstrations, as were effigies of President Bush and President-elect Obama (Athens), while in Rabat shoes were thrown in honor of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush (a deeply insulting and highly offensive gesture in the Arab world).

Cease- fire?

Israeli military strategists understand that the world nearly never protests when Jews are killed, but immediately becomes livid if Jews fight back and defeat their mortal enemies. The paradigm of Jews as victims seems to be more acceptable than Jews as victors. Ever since Israel “refused to lay down and die when its’ door was kicked in” (as Bob Dylan sings in “Neighborhood Bully”) in June 1967 during the Six Day War, the world has replaced anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, and has happily justified Islamic and secular hatred of the Jewish state.

Israel fights its wars knowing that a window of only one to two weeks exists, before the UN and other international bodies will threaten Israel into backing down from decisively destroying clear and present threats to its survival as a nation. As the European Union, Russia, Britain, France and the United States begin to exert pressure for a cease-fire – one which may leave Hamas in power, possessing its rockets and weapons, and with an open door to smuggle in an endless supply of weaponry –

➢      Pray that a cease-fire will not come to pass which will preserve Hamas’ organizational ability to damage Israel ever again (Isaiah 8:9-10).

Saddam Hussein roams the streets of Gaza

US forces entering Iraq on March 19 2003 in Operation Iraqi Freedom were surprised at the low level of resistance encountered. It took military brass some time to understand that Saddam had given his Republican Army orders to fade into the woodwork and prepare for a drawn-out campaign of low-intensity urban conflict – guerilla warfare in the alleys of Iraq. It could be that Hamas is trying to duplicate this same strategy in Gaza.

➢      We ask you to pray for the military leadership of the IDF regarding the decisions they are making concerning the ground operation – that God will grant them His strategies, wisdom, courage and discernment, as He did to the prophets and armies of Israel in Elisha’s day (2 Kings 6:8-12).

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Day Eleven

This is a report of details of Tuesday’s fighting, followed by a brief analysis, and then specific prayer requests.

➢      The IDF engages Hamas gunmen around Gaza City and Jabalya

➢      Total of over 150 Hamas terrorists killed, more than 100 taken prisoner

➢      More than 30 Hamas rocket attacks against Negev cities and Gedera

➢      Four “friendly fire” Israeli casualties

➢      Hamas uses civilians as shields

➢      Egyptians, U.S. and French work toward possible cease-fire

Air, naval and ground operations

On Tuesday the IDF continued to focus on three goals: destruction of Hamas’ terror infrastructure (weapons caches, rockets and rocket launcher pads); killing Hamas gunmen; and taking prisoners (for on-site intelligence in real time and in preparation for a prisoner exchange). Prime Minister Olmert restated the two goals that are keeping the military operation going –  no smuggling of weapons into Gaza from Egypt, and no terror of any kind against Israel.

Over 150 Hamas terrorist have been killed. Over 100 have been taken prisoner and are undergoing questioning in Israel.

IAF (Israel Air Force) planes hit 40 targets on Tuesday, eliminating Ayman Siam, head of all Hamas rocket and artillery forces in Gaza. Navy gunships succeeded in eliminating a combined group of 6 terrorists (Hamas and Islamic Jihad) near Dir el-Balah in central Gaza.

Heavy house-to-house fighting is occurring in Saja’iya, al-Atattra and Jabaliya (north & central Gaza). Intensive close-quarters combat is occurring on many fronts. The IDF is dealing simultaneously with attempted ambushes by Hamas gunmen, rooftop snipers, roadside IEDs, mortars and kidnap attempts. Engineering Corps are disarming booby-trapped tunnels, houses, mosques and schools. In one case a child’s doll on the ground concealed the entrance to a booby-trapped tunnel.

Two amazing answers to prayer occurred. In one case a Hamas suicide bomber leaped into a squad of soldiers but his bomb-vest failed to detonate. He was captured and disarmed. In another case, a unit of Givati infantry went in to relieve themselves inside an abandoned school building, and noticed wires leading to a booby-trapped row of cannon shells. They were able to escape before the trap was sprung. A third instance involved Paratroopers who managed to kill a Hamas suicide bomber dressed in an Israeli army uniform who had infiltrated their ranks.

➢        Pray for the Israeli Special Forces, infantry, tanks, artillery and engineers who are involved in the fighting. Ask God to send angelic warriors to stand with them, to protect them and to grant them victory (Judges 5:20).

The next step in this operation will involve enfolding the reserve soldiers recently called up, and then intensifying the attack on Hamas strongholds.

➢      Pray especially for the close to 50 believing Messianic soldiers participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen them, grant them victory, and strengthen their families with His power, love and confidence.

Friendly fire

Monday night saw two tragic cases of friendly fire, where Israeli tank crews mistakenly fired two shells at the troops they were supposed to be protecting. In the first case three soldiers of Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion were killed (including an Israeli Druze Arab) and 24 wounded near Saja’iya, including the Brigade Commander Colonel Avi Peled. He oversaw the evacuation of all the wounded before he would leave the battlefield. Within a few hours he checked out of the hospital and went back to his command at the front. In the second case a deputy company commander was killed by friendly tank fire near al-Atattra. Friendly fire unfortunately has accompanied most battlefields throughout history (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendly_fire).

➢      Pray that the God of Israel will grant exceedingly clear communication between battle units, and that He would guard the IDF from further friendly fire tragedies.

Tuesday morning saw the IDF’s sixth fatality, Staff-Sergeant Alexander Mashvitsky (21) of Beersheva, a combat engineer in a recon unit, killed in a firefight in the northern part of Gaza City.

Rocket attacks

Hamas fired more than 30 rockets, striking Gedera, Beersheva, Sderot, Netivot and surrounding kibbutzim and farms. To date they have succeeded in killing four Israelis, but this is not for lack of trying. Their intentions are murderous, and they are aiming specifically at civilians, whereas the IDF and IAF are trying to avoid all civilian casualties.

Hamas forces have lost operational oversight of Gaza. The leadership is hidden in bunkers and cannot communicate with ordinary Gazans. Armed gangs of Izz ed-Din al-Qassam gunmen roam the streets, hijacking humanitarian aid trucks and kneecapping anyone who resists. They are forcing children to accompany them as they fire rockets and mortars, hoping that Israeli forces will hold their fire. Families are prevented from fleeing the area, and terrorists often take refuge in apartment stairwells.

IAF unmanned drones presented videos on Israeli TV Tuesday night showing Hamas gunmen setting up and firing mortars and rocket launchers on school grounds, beside homes and next to UN properties. Hamas figures that it will win either way – either the IAF will hesitate to strike, but if not, the civilian “collateral damage” can be used to turn Arab and world opinion against Israel.

Civilian shields

The Arab world is no stranger to human shields, and Israel has had plenty of first-hand experience in these matters in Lebanon and in the West Bank. On Tuesday three incidents reveal that Hamas is using civilian shields as a matter of standard operational strategy.

The UNRWA al-Fahoura school in Jabaliya has been an abandoned building for some time. On December 31 Israeli UAV’s captured video footage of Hamas terrorists operating mortar shells against Israeli troops from the sidewalk less than a meter away from classrooms. Other up-to-date intelligence revealed that Hamas terrorists were hiding out in the building. On Tuesday afternoon tank shells were fired at the building, killing many Hamas operatives, including verified Hamas operatives Imad and Hassan Abu-Askar.

Unfortunately a number of refugees had meanwhile taken shelter in that building, and some of the 42 fatalities included these people. However, Israeli intelligence estimates that 70% of the fatalities were Hamas operatives. In the fog of war it is impossible to ascertain exact numbers at this point. What is clear is that Hamas is using civilian peacetime buildings and civilian shields to hide behind as it targets the IDF.

The Arab media have been repeating footage of these fatalities all day, showing propaganda clips which are Nazi-like in their demonizing of Israel and the Jewish people. A tidal wave of hatred is sweeping across the Muslim world. A few hours ago, referring to the Gaza operation, Dr. Ayman Zawahiri (Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man) called on Muslims to “hit the Zionists and crusaders (ed., Westerners and Christians) wherever and in whichever way you can.”

Fighting to the last Palestinian

Year ago Abba Eban once quipped that the Arab world would fight Israel “to the last Palestinian” – in other words, the Arab world was happy to use the Palestinians as cannon fodder but did not themselves want to dirty their own hands with dangerous combat. The Islamic Republic of Iran (Shiite Islam) is using Hamas (Sunni Islam) in a similar way, while the Hamas High Command is content to sit in bunkers under Gaza’s burning soil, or in palaces in Damascus, while their gunmen on the ground engage in kamikaze attacks on the IDF.

The reason most rational armies refuse to build bases in civilian areas is because they want to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas however operates under different codes of military conduct. It sees civilian casualties as a powerful propaganda bonus that will shock the world into siding with Hamas – and thus unwittingly support Hamas’ clearly stated publicized strategy to destroy Israel.

War involves fast and aggressive actions and responses. It is not a kind sport. In the fog of war, any sources of attack must be immediately and devastatingly destroyed. Hamas knows this, and that is why it sets up its rockets between homes and in schools, why it stores it ammunition in mosques and hospitals. It is courting overwhelming response. This is a cynical and damnable strategy, but the world media are all too gullible in these matters.

Life for Gazans right now is very hard. No schools are operating, and no police enforce law and order. There is no garbage removal or television. Electricity comes on every other day for a few limited hours if at all, and this means that the water supply is also sporadic. Food is available on the black market, much of it being humanitarian aid stolen by Hamas gunmen and sold for a tidy profit. Cell phones are charged at night from car batteries. The ICRC (Red Cross) head of operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl stated Tuesday that he sees a “fully blown” humanitarian crisis developing in Gaza.

➢       Pray for the inhabitants of Gaza – that God would rescue them from evil leadership and bring physical rescue and deliverance to many.

True and false cease-fires

Hamas is hoping that world outcry will force Israel to suspend its operations, and that Hamas will be allowed to keep its arsenal of rockets while freely continuing to smuggle in fresh weaponry through the Egyptian border. Egypt bears a huge degree of blame for the current war, as it has blithely allowed Hamas to import weapons into Egypt and has watched as Hamas smuggles them into Gaza through tunnels dug in sovereign Egyptian soil. Some Israeli politicians unwilling to upset the governmental apple cart have downplayed Egypt’s criminal role in this process, all in the interests of a counterfeit peace process.

Any cease-fire must insure that these weapons can no longer pass, and that Hamas can no longer terrorize Israel. Political pressure to force anything different on the Jewish state would bring a direct curse on the Jewish people (see Genesis 12:3).

➢       Pray that any cease-fire will be grounded in justice and will prevent Hamas from holding onto terror or power (Isaiah 8:9-10). Pray for your country’s leaders, that they will be a blessing and not a curse to Israel at this moment of crisis.

World responses

According to London’s Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat, Hezbollah forces in Lebanon have been placed on their highest level of alert.

President Mubarak of Egypt has dropped broad hints to his aides that it is important for Israel to defeat Hamas. A victory for Muslim Brotherhood offshoot Hamas would severely weaken Mubarak’s hold on power in his own country.

On Tuesday Venezuela expelled the Israeli ambassador and all embassy personnel for “state terrorism” and causing a Palestinian “holocaust.” The Israeli Foreign Ministry commented: “Israel will continue to defend itself before its enemies including Hamas and Iran, with which Venezuela has created strong ties … Venezuela needs to choose which side it is taking in this war. It must choose between those who fight terror and those who support it. It’s not surprising that Venezuela is once more clarifying to the world which side it is on.”

Israeli basketball team Bnei Sharon was forced to flee the court and hide in their changing rooms, in a scheduled match with Turk Telecom. Hundreds of screaming fans yelled “Allahu akbar” and “Killer Israel”, throwing shoes and punches at riot police who were protecting the Israeli players. Before the game was cancelled, an Israeli flag was set afire by a pro-Islamic group.

On Tuesday Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed a group of EU foreign policy leaders and the Foreign Ministers of Sweden, France and the Czech Republic with frank words, “Europe must stop playing this double game with Israel . Not one of you would sit with your arms crossed in the face of missiles being fired at your country.”

➢      We ask you to pray for the military leadership of the IDF regarding the decisions they are making concerning the ground operation – that God will grant them His strategies, wisdom, courage and discernment, as He did to the prophets and armies of Israel in Elisha’s day (2 Kings 6:8-12).

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Day Twelve

This is a report of details of Wednesday’s fighting, followed by a brief analysis, and then specific prayer requests.

Breaking news of 4 katyusha rockets fired from south Lebanon at Nahariya, Israel at 0730 Thursday morning.

➢      The IDF destroys booby-trapped tunnels and rocket launchers on the outskirts of Gaza City and Jabalya

➢      IAF intensively bombs smuggling tunnels in Rafiah beside Egyptian border

➢      More than 30 Hamas rocket attacks against Negev cities

➢      IDF holds fire, opens humanitarian aid corridor for 3 hours

➢      Egyptians, U.S. and French continue to work toward possible cease-fire

Ground operations

On Wednesday IDF ground operations focused on the destruction of Hamas’ terror infrastructure – weapons caches, rockets and rocket launcher pads – with a specific focus on disarming hundreds of booby-trapped tunnels. The Engineering Corps’ Special Forces Yahalom unit revealed that over the past few days they have neutralized hundreds of IEDs, and booby-trapped houses, tunnels, schools and mosques. IDF’s sixth fatality, Staff-Sergeant Alexander Mashvitsky (21) of Beersheva, a combat engineer in this recon unit, was killed in a face-to-face firefight in the northern part of Gaza City as a Yahalom/Golani unit was on such a neutralizing operation. In another incident, Steel, a K-9 Oketz (Special Forces) dog was able to reveal the presence of two booby-trapped floors and terrorists hiding in a suspicious house before he was killed by Hamas gunmen. The terrorists were then eliminated and the booby-traps were neutralized.

➢      Pray for the brave soldiers in these units who are risking their lives a hundred times a day, that the Lord of hosts would give them steady hands, cool nerves and total protection as they disarm terror bombs throughout Gaza (Number 10:9).

IDF forces are ready to enter stage three of the operation – deployment throughout the Gaza Strip and what is charmingly called “low-intensity urban conflict” – house-to-house counter-terror operations in Gaza’s major cities. These combat operations are similar to what US and British Special Forces have experienced in Afghanistan and Iraq. A limited number of these operations are already taking place in the Zeitun suburb east of Gaza City.

➢       Pray for the Israeli Special Forces, infantry, tanks, artillery and engineers who are involved in the fighting. Ask God to send angelic warriors to stand with them, to protect them and to grant them victory (Judges 5:20).

➢      Pray especially for the close to 50 believing Messianic soldiers participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen them, grant them victory, and strengthen their families with His power, love and confidence.

Air operations

IAF (Israel Air Force) planes have hit more than 1,000 targets in 12 days of operation. On Wednesday 40 targets were eliminated including rocket launchers positioned on house rooftops and between residential homes. This Hamas positioning strategy is meant to increase civilian casualties.

In the 1982 Peace for Galilee Lebanese War against the PLO, I spoke to eye-witnesses who reported the same strategic behavior on the part of the PLO. In the August 2006 war with Hezbollah small arms and heavy machine gun fire, as well as Katyusha rocket fire, were all directed at Israeli troops and civilians from a Viet Cong-like network of residential homes and tunnels. IAF released video footage Wednesday evening of rocket teams firing Qassams from the courtyards of mosques. This is the nature of modern Middle Eastern war.

On Wednesday afternoon, thousands of Arabic leaflets rained down on the Rafiah salient abutting the Egyptian border. The IAF message was brief but clear, “Because Hamas uses your houses to hide and smuggle military weapons, the IDF will attack the area between the Egyptian border and the beach road.” Residents were warned to vacate the area by 8 pm. At 8 pm massive bombing began, destroying many of the 300 Hamas tunnels used to smuggle arms into Gaza from Egypt. Over 30,000 Rafiah residents moved a few kilometers north, out of bombing range.

It must be stressed that Hamas would not today have any military weaponry were it not for the cold fact that Egypt has allowed Hamas to supply and resupply its forces by importing arms into Egypt, and by Egypt turning a not-so-blind eye to the smuggling which is taking place under the fairly astute noses of the Egyptian Army and Intelligence services. The hypocrisy involved in Egypt’s “championing” a cease fire is quite brazen, since it is Egypt which has helped fan the flames for Hamas.  Nevertheless both President Mubarak’s and King Abdullah II’s (Jordan) governments have much to fear from Hamas’s sister organization al-Ikhwan al Muslimin, the Muslim Brotherhood. (Article Two of the Hamas Charter states, “Hamas is one of the wings of the Ikhwan al-Muslimin … the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era”).

➢      Pray for the Israeli pilots who need to make split second decisions where many lives could hang in the balance. Pray that God would give them the necessary accuracy, wisdom and discernment. Pray for the salvation of many Gazans (physically and spiritually) during this time of trial.

Hamas military activities

On Wednesday Hamas fired close to 30 rockets at civilian targets, striking Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheva, and surrounding kibbutzim and farms. Rachel and I were one kilometer away from the impact of one of these Grads at 4:25 pm Wednesday afternoon. We could hear the piercing “crack” followed by a loud boom. This rocket landed in the middle of Beersheva, narrowly missing some significant targets. We were awakened twice last night by air-raid sirens and more booms in the Beersheva area.

➢      We are so thankful for how God’s angels have pushed rockets and mortars off-course and spared many Israeli lives. Pray that this continues to happen (Hebrews 1:14).

Hamas forces have been attempting to explode IEDs close to IDF forces, and then kidnap the wounded soldiers (or their bodies) into their mazes of underground tunnels.

➢      Pray that the Lord of the armies of Israel (1 Sam. 17:45) will supernaturally thwart such kidnap attempts and bring to nought all the evil plans of the enemy (Isaiah 8:10).

Humanitarian aid

On Monday a convoy of humanitarian aid was permitted by the IDF to enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. It was fired upon by Hamas gunmen and the trucks were hijacked. In many cases this aid is then redirected only to Hamas personnel, or it is later sold by Hamas on the black market at exorbitant prices. Those who complain are shot. Early this week a 70 year old man was shot to death by Hamas gunmen for refusing to disclose where his son (a Fatah/PA man) was hiding. Western and Arab media in Gaza would be killed by Hamas as well if they publicly reported on these events.

The IDF nevertheless opened a humanitarian corridor between 1 pm and 4pm, contingent upon Hamas also holding their fire. For three hours Gazans were able to replenish stocks of food and water, fuel and medical supplies. The humanitarian crisis does not involve lack of food, but inability to open markets due to the war in the streets. Were Hamas to desist from rocketing Israeli civilians, there would be food and not war in the streets. These two events are linked.

➢      Pray that God will overrule Hamas’ leaders, and establish an uprising for peace in the Palestinian street.

Cease-fire discussions

Egypt and France are working for a possible cease fire, with the US helping to keep the process alive and somewhat on track. Hamas Deputy Politburo Chief Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk stated on Wednesday that as long as “the occupation continues” there will be no negotiations for a long-term cease fire. In layman’s terms, Abu Marzouk is stating that Hamas will never desist from trying to destroy Israel. Any cease fire will only be used to rebuild, re-arm and strategize anew. What has changed in the equation is simply one factor – Israel is no longer willing to live with such suicidal conditions.

➢       Pray that any cease-fire will be grounded in justice and will prevent Hamas from holding onto terror or power. Pray for your country’s leaders, that they will be a blessing and not a curse to Israel at this moment of crisis (Genesis 12:3).

World responses

Anti-Israel marches and attacks continue throughout the Islamic and Western world. Attacks on Jewish people worldwide are also increasing. It is important to discern this and to pray accordingly.

Whereas in the West, Hitlerian anti-Semitism is still considered in rather poor taste (but not in the Islamic world!), a simple sleight-of-hand – substituting the word “Israel” for the word “the Jews” – and ‘hey presto!’, attacks on the same Jewish people are now simply expressions of “moral outrage” and “humanitarian concern.” Where were these militant heroes of tender conscience for eight years when Hamas rockets were falling on Israel, and when Hamas suicide bombers were shredding the Jewish flesh of mothers and children in the Jewish state?

➢      Pray that the Holy Spirit, God’s Heavenly Restrainer, will suppress and foil a resurgence of Jew-hatred in our day (2 Thessalonians 2:7; Zechariah 2:8).

A thought to ponder

The Book of Obadiah teaches that the God of Israel weighs and judges the nations based on their heart and actions toward His chosen people Israel. From Babylon to Britain, from Assyria to America, from Persia to the Palestinians, this “divine foreign policy” holds true. The world has basically treated 8 years of Hamas rocket attacks and suicide bombing as no big deal, as a contained Middle Eastern mini- soap opera. Only when Israel finally responded in a restrained and targeted way, did the world react – but amazingly, the majority of the media-fueled reaction is against Israel.

Obadiah’s words should cause us to get down on our faces and intercede for the survival of our own nations as well as for plucky little Israel. Now is not the time for saccharine pseudo-prophetic words about peace, prosperity and self-contentment. Let the body of Messiah wake up from a Persian banquet of wine (Esther 1:8-10) and read the handwriting on the wall of the nations (Daniel 5:4-6). It’s time to pray!

Because of the violence (Hebrew word here is “hamas”) against your brother Jacob,

you will be covered with shame…

On the day you stood aloof

while … foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem,

you were like one of them.

You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune,

nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction,

nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.

You should not march through the gates of My people in the day of their disaster,

nor look down on them in their calamity in the day of their disaster,

nor seize their wealth  in the day of their disaster …

The day of YHVH is near for all nations.

As you have done, it will be done to you;

your deeds will return upon your own head”  (Obadiah 1:10-15)

Breaking news

At 0730 Thursday morning a barrage of 4 Katyusha rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into the Israeli city of Nahariya, striking a retirement home and lightly injuring three, with 14 suffering from shock. Within minutes, IDF artillery struck the sources of that fire, shooting into Lebanon.

This could be an al Qa’eda or Palestinian attempt to open up a second front against Israel, or it could be an initial Hezbollah opening shot in a new Lebanese war. Though UN Resolution 1701 (Israel’s only diplomatic achievement in the 2006 Lebanon operation) prohibits all paramilitary forces from operating south of the Litani River (in south Lebanon), in defiance of this resolution Hezbollah forces have retaken all areas from which they were pushed out by Israel in August 2006. The Lebanese government has been either unwilling or unable to stop this process – not surprising considering that Hezbollah is now a major coalition party in the Lebanese parliament.

➢      Pray that God will grant 100% accurate revelation to Israel’s governmental, military and intelligence leaders regarding the source of this fire, and wisdom, discernment and accuracy in their response, as He did to the prophets and armies of Israel in Elisha’s day (2 Kings 6:8-12).

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Day Thirteen

This is a report of details of Thursday’s fighting, followed by a brief analysis, and then specific prayer requests.

➢      The IDF fights Hamas gunmen in central and northern Gaza (three fatalities)

➢      IAF continues to bomb smuggling tunnels, weapons warehouses and rocket launchers

➢      More than 30 Hamas rocket attacks against Negev cities

➢      Unidentified group fires 4 Katyushas into Israel from Lebanon

➢      IDF again holds fire, opens humanitarian aid corridor for 3 hours

➢      UN passes Resolution 1860 calling for cease-fire; rejected by Hamas

Selected quotes from Hamas’ Charter (1988)

As we pray over the war between Israel and Hamas, it is important to remember how Hamas understands the nature of that conflict. Here are six representative quotes from the Hamas Charter which throw some light on the spiritual nature of the conflict.

• “The Platform of The Islamic Resistance Movement (ed., acronym for ‘Hamas’): Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it” (Introduction)

• “The Islamic Resistance Movement…strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine. (Article #6)

• “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief” (Article #8 – ed. this is also the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood)

• “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 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)

• “(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 … Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the nonbelievers as arbitrators in the lands of Islam … 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)

The spirit which motivates Hamas is similar in nature to the one which controlled Adolf Hitler. As with Hitler, negotiations were only an obfuscating delaying tactic which led to further evil empowerment and conquest. Hamas is at least clearer and more transparent than Hitler about its goals and strategies – Jihad is the means, and the destruction of Israel is the goal. However, today the world’s moral vision is perilously close to being blinder than it was in Hitler’s day (Luke 6:39; John 9:39).

Reconciliation was not possible with Hitler, though a few misguided or deceived believers thought so at the time. In our day, any call for true reconciliation between Arab and Jew can only be realistically actualized after the power of jihadi Islam is broken in Arab hearts and lives. This is not the only step, of course, but it is a sine qua non.

➢      Pray for the defeat of Hamas, its leadership and its ideological hold over many Gazans.

Ground operations

On Thursday IDF ground operations focused on the destruction of Hamas’ terror infrastructure – weapons caches, rockets and rocket launcher pads. Close-quarter firefights were breaking out in Jabalya, Zeitun, Karara, al-Atatra and Khan Yunis. Three Israeli soldiers were killed in Thursday’s fighting by sniper fire or anti-tank weapons: Major Ro’i Rosner of the Kfir Brigade (Haruv Company – age 27); Sergeant Amit Robinson (Armored Corps 71st Battalion – age 20); Captain Omer Rabinovitch (Golani Egoz Special Forces – age 23).

A detailed Hamas map detailing their military theater of operations map for al-Atatra was found by the IDF, with Arabic markings of locations of snipers, IEDs and booby-traps (including civilian houses and gas stations). This map reveals how civilian casualties are planned for by Hamas, and are part of their war strategy vis-à-vis the media.

➢      Pray for the brave soldiers in these units who are risking their lives a hundred times a day, that the Lord of hosts would give them steady hands, cool nerves and total protection as they confront Hamas gunmen throughout Gaza (Number 10:9). Pray that the God of Israel would give them a saving revelation of Yeshua (1 Kings 8:37-44; Zechariah 12:10).

IDF forces are on the cusp of entering this operations’ stage three – deployment throughout the Gaza Strip and what is charmingly called “low-intensity urban conflict” – house-to-house counter-terror operations in Gaza’s major cities. These combat operations are similar to what US and British Special Forces have experienced in Afghanistan and Iraq.

➢       Pray for the Israeli Special Forces, infantry, tanks, artillery and engineers who are involved in the fighting. Ask God to send angelic warriors to stand with them, to protect them and to grant them victory (Judges 5:20).

➢      Pray especially for the close to 50 believing Messianic soldiers participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen them, grant them victory, and strengthen their families with His power, love and confidence.

Hamas military activities

On Thursday Hamas fired 30 rockets at civilian targets, striking Ashkelon, Beersheva, Sderot and surrounding kibbutzim and farms. One Grad Katyusha rocket struck the gymnasium of an elementary school in Ashkelon. Since all Israeli schools within rocket range are temporarily closed, no one was injured.

An unknown group fired 4 Katyushas from southern Lebanon (near Naqoura) into the Israeli city of Nahariya, striking a retirement home’s kitchen while 25 pensioners sat eating breakfast. Three people were lightly wounded, though many suffered shock.

➢      We are so thankful for how God’s angels have pushed rockets and mortars off-course and spared many Israeli lives. Pray that this continues to happen (Hebrews 1:14).

Humanitarian aid

On Thursday the IDF opened a corridor for a convoy of humanitarian aid reach to Gaza, contingent upon Hamas also holding their fire. Hamas in fact broke the cease fire within the first hour. The UN has since stopped distributing aid after one of its drivers was killed. UN spokesman Chris Guinness said that the driver was killed by Israeli tank fire, though the IDF medics who examined the body saw only sniper wounds to the chest, presumably from Hamas snipers operating in the area.

Cease-fire deliberations

On Thursday night the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1860 which “stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected cease fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” (clause #1). The resolution calls upon Israel to withdraw but never mentions Hamas. No mechanism for preventing Hamas from smuggling weapons or firing rockets is discussed. The US abstained on the vote. The Resolution also calls for the dividing up of the land of Israel into two states, Israel and Palestine (clause #8) and recommends a further conference in Moscow (clause #9).

Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan said, “This resolution does not take the Palestinian interest into consideration, and does not address lifting the siege or opening the crossings” adding that his movement is not bound by the current resolution. Hamas’ deeds backed up these words, with more than 30 rockets fired Friday morning and afternoon against Beersheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod and outlying farms.

Hamas’ objection to the Resolution is based on the fact that Hamas is opposed to a democratic state. Its Koran-based vision is only for an Islamist Palestine. Hamas also demands the freedom to smuggle rockets and weaponry into Gaza to be used its the never-ending jihad against the Jewish state.

Abu Abir, a spokesman for the Gazan Palestinian terror group PRC, said, “I admit, we never thought the IDF operation would be so extensive or at such a pace. However once it happened there was no going back. Only war and jihad are the way, there is no way for a cease fire…”

Israel’s perspective is that the Resolution allows a terrorist body to continue to exist and thrive, to regroup and prepare for further attacks on Israel’s civilian population. The resolution is unacceptable for Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni responded to the UN Resolution saying that “Israel has acted, is acting, and will continue to act only according to its calculations, in the interest of the security of its citizens and its right to self-defense.”

Prime Minister Olmert added, “Israel has never allowed an outside source to determine its right to defend the security of its citizens. The IDF will continue acting to defend the citizens of Israel and carry out the missions laid before it in the operation. The rocket attacks this morning against residents of the south only prove that the UN’s resolution is not practical and will not be upheld by the Palestinian murder organizations.”

The words of Jeremiah the prophet ring down through the corridors of time, and they have lost none of their pungency: “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace … We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror” (Jeremiah 8:11, 15).

➢       Pray that God will soften the hearts of the leading nations of the world to deal favorably with Israel (Genesis 12:3) and so receive a blessing from the God of Israel.

World responses

In Oslo 1,000 anti-Israel demonstrators attacked a group of 500 pro-Israel demonstrators on Thursday. Thirty one anti-Israel demonstrators were arrested for violence against police and bodily harm. Five of the six injuries were Norwegian police officers.

Fourteen leading UK Muslims wrote a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Browne warning him that the hostilities in Gaza “revived extremist groups (ed., in England) and empowered their message of violence.”

In Rome Giancarlo Desiderati, leader of the Flaica-Uniti-Cub union, representing 8000 shop assistants in Rome, proposed that Romans “identify and boycott” Jewish-owned shops in the Italian capital in protest of Israel’s operation in Gaza.

Desiderati stated that he and his supporters were drawing up a list of Jewish shops, “though it might be better to publish a list of streets in which a majority of the shops are Jewish and ask people to avoid those streets when shopping … For fifty years we have been concerned for the Jews because of what they suffered in the Holocaust, but now it is time to be concerned for the Palestinians, who are the Jews of today”, Desiderati said, in an amazing parallel to the words and works of Benito Mussolini, WWII fascist dictator.

Anti-Israel demonstrators physically blocked the entrance to Montreal’s Israel Consulate, and had to be forcibly removed by city police.

The US Senate unanimously approved a non-binding bipartisan resolution S.6 affirming support for Israel in its fight against Hamas terrorism. The resolution looks forward to a cease fire which “would not allow a reestablishment of the status quo ante where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out of Gaza.” It also noted that Hamas “was founded with the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said: “I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York – how would we as a country react?” Co-sponsor and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican also remarked: “The Israelis … are responding exactly the same way we would.”

➢      Pray that the Holy Spirit, God’s Heavenly Restrainer, will suppress and foil a resurgence of Jew-hatred in our day (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Pray that He would increase revelation concerning His heart for the Jewish people, the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8).

A thought to ponder

Bob Dylan wrote one of his most powerful (yet widely unknown) songs about the Jewish state of Israel, which he tongue-in-cheek calls “Neighborhood Bully.” His cutting prose and caustic verse are a surprisingly up-to-date commentary on the present round of hostilities. Here are a few selected verses, and we encourage you to listen to the whole song.

Neighborhood Bully

Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man,

His enemies say he’s on their land.

They got him outnumbered about a million to one,

He got no place to escape to, no place to run.

He’s the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,

He’s criticized and condemned for being alive.

He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin,

He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.

He’s the neighborhood bully.

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,

Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.

Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.

The bombs were meant for him.

He was supposed to feel bad.

He’s the neighborhood bully.

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim

That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him,

‘Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back

And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.

He’s the neighborhood bully.

Well, he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,

They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.

Now, they wouldn’t hurt a fly.

To hurt one they would weep.

They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.

He’s the neighborhood bully.

What’s anybody indebted to him for?

Nothin’, they say.

He just likes to cause war.

Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed,

They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed.

He’s the neighborhood bully.

(Copyright ©1983 Special Rider Music)

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Days Fourteen, Fifteen Sixteen

This report contains details of three days of fighting, a brief analysis, and specific prayer requests.

➢      The IDF kills over 50 Hamas gunmen in central and northern Gaza

➢      IAF continues to bomb strategic targets, eliminates head of rocket forces

➢      More than 100 Hamas rocket attacks against Negev cities in three days

➢      IDF again opens humanitarian aid corridor for 3 hours per day

➢      Two Muslim countries recall ambassadors from Israel

➢      US Congress and Senate pass resolutions supporting Israel’s right of self-defense

➢      Anti-Semitic riots & demonstrations internationally

Seeing the forest and the trees

Understanding events is more than simply scanning a list of facts. These reports attempt to give accurate, up-to-date facts – necessary information which often is unreported by the “fast food” media matrix. But there is also a need for perspective – what do these events mean –a need to communicate background dynamics which decisively influence developments on the ground. Today and tomorrow two newsletters will be sent out – this first one focusing on the fast moving events, and a second newsletter laying out seven mini-perspectives to help the reader obtain a better grasp of what is going on.

Ground operations

For the past three days IDF ground operations focused on the destruction of Hamas’ terror infrastructure – tunnels, weapons caches and weapons labs.  More than 50 Hamas gunmen have been killed in close-quarter firefights. Heavy fighting has occurred in Sheikh Ajleen, a northern suburb of Gaza City, where ten Hamas gunmen were killed in an ambush on Sunday. The IDF is clearing a security zone close to the border with Gaza, removing buildings which could serve as forward command posts and tunnel exits for any future attacks on Israel. Israeli reserve soldiers are beginning to be enfolded into the order of battle.

➢      Pray for the brave soldiers in these units who are risking their lives many times a day – that the Lord of hosts would give them steady hands, cool nerves and total protection as they confront Hamas gunmen throughout Gaza (Number 10:9). Pray that the God of Israel would give them a saving revelation of Yeshua (1 Kings 8:37-44; Zechariah 12:10).

➢      Pray especially for the close to 50 believing Messianic soldiers participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen them, grant them victory, and strengthen their families with His power, love and confidence.

Air operations

Since the onset of Operation Cast Lead, over 2,200 air sorties have been carried out by the IAF. Friday saw 70 sorties, while Saturday and Sunday each saw 60 sorties. The home of Ahmad Ja’abari (commander of Hamas’ military wing) was bombed Saturday in northern Gaza City suburb of Saja’iya. Amir Mansi, commander of all Izz ed-Din al-Qassam rocket squads, was successfully targeted as well.

IAF planes dropped Arabic leaflets throughout the Gaza Strip which said, “Strip residents … In the near future, the IDF will continue to attack tunnels, arms caches, and terror activities with greater intensity all across the Strip. For your safety and the safety of your families, you are required to refrain from staying near terror elements or sites where weapons are being stored.” Other leaflets asked Gazans to call an Israeli phone number and pass on the locations of rocket launchers, weapons warehouses, tunnels and terror groups operating in the area – confidentiality guaranteed.

Hamas rockets

Over the past three days Hamas fired 104 rockets (Friday 32, Saturday 49, Sunday 23) at civilian targets. Over 700 rockets have been fired so far in the last 16 days of hostilities. The cities Sderot, Kiryat Malachi, Ashdod, Beersheva, Ashkelon and Kiryat Gat were hit, along with moshavim and kibbutzim. Kindergartens and school buildings were struck in some of these rocket attacks. Recently small orange and black billboards have been erected around the Negev, warning civilians to listen for air raid sirens on certain radio frequencies.

➢      We are so thankful for how God’s angels have pushed rockets and mortars off-course and spared many Israeli lives. Pray that this continues to happen (Hebrews 1:14).

Hamas casualties

Close to 400 Hamas gunmen have been killed since the war began. Israeli Military Intelligence had stated that over 200 of these corpses are being kept in morgue refrigerators and are not being buried, in order to keep these losses hidden from ordinary Gazans. Media reporting from the Gazan side are not showing any Hamas fatalities due to Hamas censorship.

An amazing answer to prayer was revealed Sunday, when video was released of a school and zoo in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City that had been booby-trapped by Hamas. A group of 150 Givati soldiers spent the night there, and one Israeli soldier answering the call of nature at first light discovered an explosive trigger with suspicious wires – left on the grass by a Hamas operative who had fled the building the previous evening. A major disaster was avoided, and much of this is connected to prayer.

➢      Keep praying for safety for the Israeli soldiers! God is answering your prayers.

Hamas’ strategy of civilian casualties

The following is an excerpt from a speech delivered by Hamas MP Fathi Hammad, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on February 29, 2008. Hammad explains that using civilians as a human shield is not an accident on Hamas’ part; it is a strategic military and propaganda tactic.

“[The enemies of Allah] do not know that the Palestinian people has developed its [methods] of death and death-seeking. For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahidin (ed., jihad warriors) and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahidin, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘We desire death like you desire life.’ “ (www.memritv.org/video.html).

Karam Jaber, Egyptian editor of Roz al-Youssef magazine, recently stated that Hamas has “inflicted death and destruction on the Palestinians … We hope the Hamas leaders will realize that they are fighting a destructive war on behalf of the Iranians and Syrians.” A Fatah (Palestinian Authority) official in Ramallah was quoted Monday regarding Hamas, “Ever since they came to power, they brought death and destruction to our people.”

➢      Pray for the defeat of Hamas, its leadership and its ideological hold over many Gazans.

Humanitarian aid

For the past three days the IDF has allowed convoys of humanitarian aid to reach Gaza for three hours per day, contingent upon Hamas also holding their fire. Hamas in fact broke this mini-ceasefire on Sunday, firing mortars at the convoys coming through the Kerem Shalom crossing, and again on Monday when they rocketed Ashdod and Beersheva during the temporary hold-fire times.

The IDF conducted two internal investigations regarding recent UN charges concerning IDF conduct, and revealed its findings on Monday. Regarding the 39 deaths in a recent mortar attack, it was found that a Hamas rocket attack was launched on IDF troops from beside the UN school. IDF mortars responded with 3 shells, two of which struck their targets, killing approximately 10 positively identified terrorists. The third shell went off course and struck the school. Regarding the UN driver of a humanitarian aid truck, it was ascertained that he was killed from non-IDF fire, and not from tank fire (as was originally charged by the UN). Nevertheless, the charges made against the IDF were widely circulated around the globe by world media, though the careful IDF investigations and their results have not been so widely disseminated.

Poll on Israeli attitudes

A poll taken by the War and Peace Index 6 days ago discovered that 90% of Jewish Israelis surveyed believed that this war should continue until it has achieved its goals – total cessation of rocket fire and terror attacks, and a total halt to smuggling of weapons into Gaza. A high 93% have strong confidence in the IDF’s abilities and 87% believe that Israelis in the Negev and South have the stamina to bear up under the rocket attacks. However, 93% of Israeli Arabs surveyed want an immediate ceasefire and open borders for Hamas.

Since the outbreak of the war more than 700 Israelis (mostly Arabs) have been arrested in riots. Over 600 events (demonstrations or riots) have taken place in Israel over this time period, mostly in the Arab sector, with over 90 police injured.

Cease-fire deliberations

Hamas politburo Khaled Mashal responded to UN Resolution 1860 in Damascus on Saturday, rejecting any security arrangement “that infringes on the right of resistance against Israeli occupation.”  He added that Hamas “rejects the presence of international forces or inspectors in the Gaza Strip.” As mentioned in our last newsletter, this is due to Hamas’ Islamist beliefs never to recognize Israel and always to work for its destruction through jihad.

An Egyptian government official said on Sunday. “This conflict serves the interests of the Iranians,” he said. “They are satisfied because the violence in the Gaza Strip has diverted attention from their nuclear ambitions.” Magdi Khalil, an Egyptian political analyst, said that Hamas was weakening Egypt’s national security: “By endorsing the Iranian agenda, Hamas has brought the Iranians to Egypt’s eastern border.”

World responses

Mauritania and Jordan have recalled their ambassadors from Israel, These are two of the four Islamic countries which have diplomatic relations with Israel, the others being Egypt and Turkey.

Anti-Semitic riots and demonstrations are spreading across the Islamic world and Western Europe. Here is a partial list of events in the past three days:

Israel –

•      Hebron (1,000 people)

•      Nazareth (3,000)

•      Baqa al-Gharbiya (10,000)

Islamic world –

•      Amman (2,000)

•      Beirut (2,500)

•      Nabatiya, Lebanon (20,000)

•      Jakarta (20,000)

•      Alexandria (50,000)

Western Europe –

•      Berlin (8,500)

•      Duisberg (10,000)

•      London (12,000)

•      Paris, Brussels and Barcelona (30,000 each)

•      Madrid and Seville (100,000 total)

In London 2,000 violent demonstrators were stopped by police before they attacked the Israeli embassy, with 15 arrests. Outside of Paris 2 Molotov cocktails were thrown at a Jewish synagogue Sunday night at Seine-Saint-Denis, while a Toulouse synagogue was rammed by a flaming car last week. In Brussels violent mobs overturned cars and broke shop windows.

In Milan white sheets with bloody handprints, and swastikas turning into bloody Stars of David were paraded. An impromptu Islamic prayer service was carried out in the main square across from Milan’s Cathedral a week ago, and on Saturday another call to prayer was carried out across from the main train station. Italy’s Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said, “I say enough of the provocations of Islamists in Milan. In Milan, a legitimate demonstration ended in a deliberately provocative mosque under the open sky. What would have happened if a group of Christians gathered together to pray with a rosary before Mecca? They probably would have been stoned.”

In Duisburg Germany 10,000 people marched with placards reading “Down with the murdering of children”, while in Barcelona blood-stained blankets and mock dead babies were carried by demonstrators.

America also witnessed crass anti-Semitic displays. In New York’s Times Square, anti-Israel marchers carried placards reading “Israel: the Fourth Reich”, Stop Israel’s Holocaust”, “Stop the Zionist Genocide in Gaza”, and “Holocaust by Holocaust Survivors.”

On December 30 the Israel Consulate in Los Angeles was picketed with signs including “Every Israeli committing the genocide in Gaza is a ‘Hitler’“ and the swastika/Star of David morph above the words “Upgrade to Holocaust Version 2.0.”

Tampa had demonstrators on the same day who carried placards reading “Zionism is Cancer; Radiate it” and showing an Israeli flag with the word “Nazi” written on it. Calls were made by Tampa Muslims in hijabs, “Jews go back to the ovens” (a reference to Nazi crematoria).

Chicago has seen four synagogues attacked in the past three days with anti-Jewish spray-paintings, bricks and death threats. These include Lincolnwood Jewish Congregation; Young Israel of Roger’s Park; Congregation Anshe Motele; and the Lubavitch Mesivta. Earlier, on December 29 Temple Shalom in Lakeview IL had a Molotov cocktail thrown at the building.

These very serious events show an explosion of anti-Semitic words and deeds. The Director of the Yad Vashem Libraries Dr. Robert Rozett, commented, “By accusing us of being Nazi-like, Europeans alleviate some of their own feelings of guilt and responsibility for the Holocaust … Moreover, by saying that the Jews are acting like Nazis, they are delegitimizing the very existence of the State of Israel.”

The National Director of B’nai Brith’s Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Araham H. Foxman, added, “Anti-Semitism in Europe was never really rooted out, just contained.”

Though this may partially explain European manifestations of anti-Jewish hatred, there are roots darker and deeper still that have also infected Islamic and American societies.

➢      Pray fervently that the Holy Spirit, God’s Heavenly Restrainer, will suppress and foil this explosion of Jew-hatred in our day (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Pray that He would increase revelation concerning His heart for the Jewish people, the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8).

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Days Seventeen through Twenty-One

This report contains details of five days of fighting, a brief analysis, and specific prayer requests.

➢      The IDF encircles Gaza City and eliminates Hamas’ #3 leader

➢      More than 113 Hamas rocket attacks against Negev cities

➢      IDF keeps opening humanitarian aid corridor for 3-4 hours per day

➢      Egyptian brokered ceasefire nears

➢      Anti-Semitic attacks continue internationally

Hamas rockets

Over the past five days Hamas fired more than 113 at civilian targets. Over 800 rockets have been fired so far in the last 21 days of hostilities.

On Thursday at 4:55 pm two Grad Katyusha rockets were fired at Beersheva. One hit a civilian car which had pulled over to the side of the road upon hearing the air-raid sirens. Six people were injured, 2 seriously. One of those was 7-year old Uriel Elazarov, who was comforting his mother as they huddled, saying “Don’t be scared, Mom, it’ll be alright!.” Uriel is in serious condition at Soroka Hospital in Beersheva. This rocket fell approximately one mile away from our home.

Other rockets have recently landed only meters away from believers in the Western Negev.

Here is a day by day breakdown of the number of Hamas rockets fired at Israeli farms, towns and cities since the war began: 67 (Dec 27), 31 (Dec 28), 71 (Dec 29), 54 (Dec 30), 77 (Dec 31), 53 (Jan 1), 38 (Jan 2), 40 (Jan 3), 47 (Jan 4), 40 (Jan 5), 35 (Jan 6), 28 (Jan 7), 27 (Jan 8), 29 (Jan 9), 26 (Jan 10), 20 (Jan 11), 24 (Jan 12), 22 (Jan 13), 17~ (Jan 14), 30 (Jan 15), 22 (Jan 16).

One of the main objectives of Operation Cast Lead is to stop the firing of rockets at Israeli civilians. Another is to stop all violent terror attacks coming out of Gaza. If war is another method of communicating to the enemy, it seems that Hamas has not fully accepted the message. Here are some relevant quotes showing that Hamas is determined to keep opposing a ceasefire, and is quite willing to use Gazan civilians as human shields in the process.

Hamas declarations in the past days have said that they “will not agree to harm the tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt … As long as there is occupation, the resistance will continue” (January 14, Rafaat Nasif, senior Hamas official). “The resistance won’t stop, and Gaza won’t surrender. Victory is near” (January 15, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, Islamic Jihad Secretary-General). Hamas states in its covenant that the “the occupation” means the existence of the State of Israel anywhere. The tunnels referred to are those used for smuggling Iranian and Chinese rockets into Gaza.

“Gaza is writing a new chapter in history today, and the future will be different from the past … Israel thought it would end the situation with a blow from the air, but this is the 20th day and Israel hasn’t achieved a thing. It hasn’t broken the resistance, hasn’t dictated its conditions. Our losses are fewer than the ones on the Israeli side” (January 15, Khaled Mashaal, Hamas Politburo chief). Losses to date (fatalities) in Operation Cast Lead are ten Israeli soldiers, and between 500 and 700 Hamas gunmen.

“We will not accept Israel’s conditions for a ceasefire” (January 16, Khaled Mashaal, Hamas Politburo chief). “Don’t suggest that we surrender because we haven’t been defeated and won’t be defeated. Our determination grows stronger every day, because our debt to the shahids (ed., jihad martyrs) whose blood has been spilled is bigger. We shall continue fighting, so don’t suggest that we surrender … Just like the resistance was victorious in Lebanon in 2006, (ed. Hamas) will win in January 2009” (January 17, Osama Hamdan, senior Hamas spokesman in Lebanon).

➢      We are so thankful for how God’s angels have pushed rockets and mortars off-course and spared many Israeli lives. Pray that this continues to happen (Hebrews 1:14).

Israeli intelligence in Gaza

Since the start of Operation Cast Lead the Israel Air force has carried out more than 2,500 sorties. This includes the bombing of 250 smuggling tunnels. On January 15 the number three Hamas leader, Sa’id Siam was successfully targeted, along with his brother Ayad and Salah Abu Sharah (head of Hamas’ security organization). Siam was head of Hamas’ internal security department, and was responsible for the murder of hundreds of Palestinian Authority workers in Hamas’ violent putsch of June 2007. He oversaw the kneecapping of any Gazans who expressed public opposition to Hamas rule in recent days. He was also the most hard-line of the Hamas political leadership.

The IDF has eliminated more than 400 known Hamas operatives, and at least 200 more who were not wearing battle fatigues (deliberately hiding their military affiliation, as per explicit Hamas instructions). It is worth pausing for a moment and considering the deep penetration that Israel’s SHABAK security services have done in Gaza, to be able to have such comprehensive details on Hamas gunmen all the way up the chain of command. It also reveals the ignorant lack of professionalism of most media reports who willingly accept Hamas casualty figures without understanding the propagandistic nature of these twisted casualty reports.

IDF engineers discovered a terror tunnel dug underneath the border fence from east-central Gaza to the Nahal Oz fuel terminal. The purpose of the tunnel was to attack the Israeli fuel trucks which have continued to bring diesel fuel into Gaza for years and have continued to do so throughout Operation Cast Lead. On April 9 2008 Hamas terrorists fired mortars and small arms fire on an Israeli mechanic and a driver at the Nahal Oz terminal readying trucks for fuel deliveries in Gaza, killing two. This fuel terminal exists for the benefit of ordinary Gazans. The level of self-destructive hatred which motivates Hamas is staggering to most Western minds.

Misleading media charges – phosphorus shelling

Charges have been made by some human rights activists regarding Israel’s supposedly illegal use of white phosphorus shells against civilians. Peter Herby, the head of the Red Cross’s mines-arms unit said “In some of the strikes in Gaza it’s pretty clear that phosphorus was used, but it’s not very unusual to use phosphorus to create smoke or illuminate a target. We have no evidence to suggest it’s being used in any other way.” Illegal uses of phosphorus armaments would include burning down buildings or consciously putting civilians at risk.

All the major media carried the false charges against Israel, and most did not refer to the clear Red Cross denials. The same media outlets chose not to carry verified reports of Hamas firing phosphorus mortars at civilians in the Eshkol area of Israel on Tuesday, one of them landing very close to a farm owned by believers.

Tightening the ring around Gaza City

Starting on Tuesday IDF forces began tightening the ring encircling Gaza City, where Hamas’ main command center operates in bunkers under the large Shifa Hospital building. On Thursday 80 tanks made their way into the suburb of Tel al-Hawwa, in southwest Gaza City. Thousands of Gazans began to flee their homes and seek safer ground. The home of senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar was struck on Thursday, killing five of his personal bodyguards.

Hamas mortar and RPG squads targeted IDF forces from UNRWA facilities (the UN HQ in Gaza City). IDF forces returned fire, and one of the major UN warehouses was set ablaze. This prompted a cry of outrage from visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Prime Minister Olmert responded, “This is a sad incident, and I apologize for it, but our forces were attacked from there and the response was harsh. We did not wish for such an incident to happen, and I don’t know if you are aware of this, but Hamas attacked from within the UNRWA building during our humanitarian pause in Gaza.”

During WWII George Orwell once noted that “we sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” He added, “War is evil, but it is often the lesser evil.”

➢      Pray for the brave soldiers in these units who are risking their lives many times a day – that the Lord of hosts would give them steady hands, cool nerves and total protection as they confront Hamas gunmen throughout Gaza (Number 10:9). Pray that the God of Israel would give them a saving revelation of Yeshua (1 Kings 8:37-44; Zechariah 12:10).

➢      Pray especially for the close to 50 believing Messianic soldiers participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen them, grant them victory, and strengthen their families with His power, love and confidence.

Humanitarian aid

For the past five days the IDF has allowed convoys of humanitarian aid to reach Gaza for three hours per day, contingent upon Hamas also holding their fire. Hamas in fact broke this mini-ceasefire every day. On Tuesday 100 truckloads of humanitarian aid were allowed in to Gaza through Israel, while on Friday 130 trucks entered. More than 1,136 truckloads of aid, supplies, fuel and medical equipment have been allowed into Gaza by Israel throughout Operation Cast lead.

Proportionality and international duplicity

Each Gazan civilian killed or wounded is a tragedy, and each one is precious to the God of Israel. Though the IDF and IAF are taking pains that NATO forces never took in the Kosovo conflict, Hamas is spoon-feeding the world media vicious, false and misleading spins on the matter of civilian casualties. Civilian casualties are a factored-in part of Hamas’ war strategic planning.

The reason for civilian casualties (perhaps 25% of the 1,200 fatalities and 5,000 wounded to date) is unfortunately simple – the Hamas High Command  were cowardly and callous when they decided to establish their rocket bases in the midst of Palestinian urban areas.

Between March and June 1999 NATO led 90 air attacks (the air forces of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Turkey, Spain, UK, and US) which caused between 500 and 1,500 civilian fatalities. Cluster bombs were used in civilian areas and these caused a minimum of 150 deaths. Operation Allied Force struck old-age sanitariums, hospitals, markets, columns of fleeing refugees, buses, trains, etc. No casualties were suffered by NATO forces, since they chose to “remain above the conflict” by primarily using high-altitude bombing – a decision that led to a drastic increase in civilian fatalities. Certainly a comparison of NATO and Kosovar fatalities in that air force operation would be a textbook example of “disproportionately.”

Yet the NATO spokesman Jamie Shea declared on BBC News  (May 13 1999), “There is always a cost to defeat an evil. It never comes free, unfortunately. But the cost of failure to defeat a great evil is far higher.” He added that NATO planes had bombed only “legitimate designated military targets … We try to do our utmost to ensure that if there are civilians around we do not attack; NATO does not target civilians…let’s be perfectly clear about that.”

The Israel Defense Forces are actually defending their own country against Hamas rocket attacks – terror which is targeting Israeli civilians. The ten national air forces listed above were never physically targeted by any side in the Kosovo conflict prior to the air sorties. Another outstanding comparative difference between NATO conduct in 1999 and IDF conduct in Gaza 2009, is that IDF troops have chosen to walk into extreme physical peril in order to limit Gazan civilian casualties. The IAF continues to abort bombing runs when innocent civilians accidentally stray directly in front of strategic targets.

World responses

President Evo Morales (a close friend of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez) has broken relations with Israel, saying that the IDF’s activities have “seriously threatened world peace.”

Turkish PM recap Tayyip Erdogan called for Israel to be thrown out of the UN, “How is such a country … allowed to enter through the gates of the UN?”

Syria’s Bashar Assad and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashar have called for “Arab efforts to put an end to the barbaric massacre that Israel is carrying out against the Palestinians people.”

Libya attempted to have the Security Council condemn Israel attacks, but withdrew its push when told that it would have to also allow a discussion of Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians.

Britain and other EU UN ambassadors attempted to pass a resolution declaring Israel responsible for the situation in Gaza. Gerald Kaufman, a British Labour Party legislator who is Jewish (though not kindly disposed toward Israel) declared during a House of Commons debate that “the present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploits the continuing guilt from Gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians.”

Dozens gathered in Teheran, burning posters of President-elect Obama and crying “Death to Obama” while waving Palestinian flags.

Anti-Semitic attacks against Jews in France (Molotov cocktails and spraying of Nazi slogans) continue apace, with synagogues attacked in St-Denis, Lille, Mulhouse, Paris and Villeneuve-Saint-Georges. A Jewish man was stabbed on Friday in Paris; French police believe that anti-Israeli motives are involved.

On a more positive note, over 1,000 people demonstrated in Vienna in a pro-Israel rally on Monday, while last Saturday in Germany there were three pro-Israel demonstrations of approximately 1,000 each in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. In the kingdom of God numbers are not the ultimate test of power, influence or significance. We remember that One Man’s death – whipped, naked and abandoned by His friends – continues to bring salvation to untold billions.

➢      Keep praying and keep blessing Israel! The God of Israel watches and makes not of ever positive and significant blessing of His people Israel.

➢      Pray fervently that the Holy Spirit, God’s Heavenly Restrainer, will suppress and foil this explosion of Jew-hatred in our day (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Pray that He would increase revelation concerning His heart for the Jewish people, the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8).

Cease-fire deliberations

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Friday in Washington. The US agreed to help prevent Hamas’ smuggling of weapons through Egypt. Perhaps this step will help, since Egypt is also an American ally, and it is Egypt’s passive approach to this issue (by allowing Hams to smuggle weapons and rockets into Gaza) which is one of the main causes for this war. At the same time, Livni stated that Israel reserves the right to respond with fire if Hamas attempts to re-arm itself.

It is rumored that discussions between Israel, Egypt and the US will lead to a declaration of a temporary ceasefire. That ceasefire (if honored by Hamas) might lead to further discussion regarding the establishment of an apparatus to prevent weapons smuggling. Such a step might in turn lead to a staged Israeli withdrawal parallel to a Hamas guarantee not to attack Israel for a certain period of time (a renewal of a tahadiya, or lull in the battle – see www.basicsproject.org/terrorism/ideology/tahadiya_houdna.htm).

This potential ceasefire is shot full of problems. If carried out as diplomats are hinting at, it would not remove Hamas from being a potential “spoiler” and major player; it would leave Hamas with sufficient rockets to re-initiate hostilities at a later date (and potentially extend the range of its rockets in a future battle); it would leave Hamas terror in charge of Gaza; it would leave Staff-Sergeant Gilad Shalit (the kidnapped Israeli soldier – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilad_Shalit) still in a dank Hamas secret prison – where he has languished for more than 930 days.

➢      Pray fervently that God will guide Israel’s and America’s leaders, showing them how to pull the plug on Hamas’ abilities, influence and control in Gaza.

➢      Pray that Israel’s leaders would have great courage to insist on Staff-Sergeant Gilad Shalit’s release, and that he would be released now.

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Day Twenty-Two and Unilateral Cease-Fire

This report contains details of Saturday and Sunday’s events, a brief analysis, and specific prayer requests.

➢      The Israeli cabinet declares a unilateral cease-fire late Saturday evening

➢      22 Hamas rockets and mortar attacks after Israeli cease-fire declaration

➢      IDF begins partial redeployment Sunday afternoon

➢      On Sunday afternoon Hamas announces gradual cease-fire

➢      Majority of Israelis opposed to cease-fire

➢      Double press conferences of 6 European leaders (Sharm eh-Sheikh, Jerusalem)

➢      The Obama factor

IDF activity

Throughout Saturday IAF planes bombed 100 smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Egyptian border, as well as targets throughout the Strip. Firefights between IDF and Hamas gunmen erupted throughout Gaza. Booby-trapped buildings and homes were disarmed or blown up by IDF sappers.

On Sunday 170 truckloads of humanitarian aid (including fuel, food and medicine) were allowed through IDF checkpoints from Israel into Gaza.

Unilateral Israeli cease-fire

Just after 2300 Saturday night Prime Minister Olmert announced that the cabinet had authorized a unilateral cease-fire, which would come into effect on Sunday at 0200.

Olmert said, “Our targets, as defined when we launched the operation, have been fully achieved, and more so.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, “We’ve met our military objectives.” On Sunday morning Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi added “The objectives set for the operation have been achieved in full.”

Fine-print on the cease-fire

There are some troubling aspects to this cease-fire which are not being emphasized in the news.

PM Olmert added, “This is not a ceasefire with Hamas … These understandings do not guarantee a ceasefire of Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.”

DM Barak said, “Hamas may fire at (IDF) forces and the home front.”

Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said, “No-one expected (Hamas) to stop firing immediately after the ceasefire had gone into effect.”

C.O.S. Ashkenazi added, “We have created conditions to fundamentally change the security realities in southern Israel.” Note the fluid and amorphous (and extremely non-military!) definition that does not allow for clear or definable benchmarks in judging military success. No wonder; that strategic aim was devised by the cabinet and given to the IDF just prior to the Operation’s inception.

Hamas responses

Hamas’ immediate response to Olmert’s ceasefire declaration was to fire 22 rockets into Israel over the next 18 hours. Cities hit included Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheva, Kiryat Gat, Netivot and Sderot. IAF strikes took out some of these rocket launchers and cells.

Hamas released reports on Sunday morning that IDF choppers were firing on civilians near a Palestine Bank branch in Jabalya. These reports were immediately picked up by world media. Only later, after a few hours, did the facts come out: six hours after the Israeli ceasefire declaration, Hamas gunmen fired on IDF soldiers, who returned fire and called in tank and IAF reinforcements.

Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan responded to the ceasefire with these words: “Either we hear what we want or the result will be continuing the confrontation.”

Abu Ubeida, Hamas spokesman for Izz ed-Din al-Qassam, stated “Do what you like, but the manufacturing of holy weapons is our goal. Bringing arms into Gaza is not smuggling. The natural situation would be for all Arab and Muslim countries, along with the rest of the free world, to formally allow weapons into the Strip… Meanwhile, we believe it is our right to bring arms in any way we find fit.”

Though Hamas had secretly communicated to Egypt that it would accept a ceasefire, Hamas sources declared with bluster, “Rocket fire is intended to send the message that we are the ones who decide when there is a ceasefire, not some unilateral decision in Israel.”

Ayman Tahu, Hamas spokesman in Cairo, declared at 1431 on Sunday that Hamas would accept a limited ceasefire: “Hamas and the factions announce a ceasefire in Gaza starting immediately and give Israel a week to withdraw.” From the tenor of these words it sounds like Hamas had pummeled Israel into submission and not vice-versa.

Gaza’s “victorious” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke from his secret bunker hidden under Shifa Hospital, declaring that “the enemy has failed to achieve his goals” and that Hamas had pulled off “a popular victory.” Hamas’ sponsor Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that “this is only the beginning of victory,” while Mushir al-Masri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza said “We are in a powerful, victorious position. Israel will soon learn that the balance of power has changed in Hamas’s favor.”

In an unintentionally dry comment on Sunday, Hamas sources added, “The Palestinian organizations have no intention of drawing IDF fire that could harm Palestinian populations.”  There might be some Gazans who are thankful that this statement was made although, since it came after a ceasefire and after 22 days of Hamas’ totally opposite strategic war policy which made use of Gazan civilians as human shields, it is probably a moot point.

David Horovitz, Editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, notes that Hamas will never “fundamentally change a mindset that emphatically places the destruction of Israel above the well-being of Palestinians.”

Egyptian responses

Egypt, like Johnny Cash, is trying to “walk the line” between scorning and yelling at Israel (on the one hand) and insisting that it is a viable peace partner with Israel and America (on the other hand); between placating Islamist popular forces which could overthrow or assassinate President Mubarak (on the one hand) and arresting and imprisoning Hamas’ sister organization in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood (on the other hand).

On Saturday Mubarak (who already had spoken with Israeli representatives and knew that Israel would declare a ceasefire within a few hours) proclaimed, “I demand Israel today stop its military operations immediately. I demand from its leaders an immediate and unconditional cease-fire and I demand from them a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Strip.”

On Sunday Egyptian security sources announced that they had detained 620 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest roundup of MBers in recent months. The arrests were due to pro-Hamas demonstrations and “membership in illegal organizations.” It seems that Mubarak considers the MB to be a threat to Egypt’s stability, but feels that Israel should not at all be heavy-handed in dealing with its own home-grown MB organization – Hamas.

At the Arab Economic Summit in Kuwait on Sunday, Mubarak spoke approvingly of Islamist armed resistance (to the State of Israel), saying “We support the right to resistance, but feel it should be responsible. We believe that resistance, like the decision to start a war, should be responsible, and should be subject to profit and loss calculations. There are factions that admit the balance of power leans very much in Israel’s favor, and it will take many years to reach a balance of power. Should the Palestinian people wait that long?”

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit commented on the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Israel and the United States (which is supposed to impede Hamas smuggling of rockets through Egyptian territory) in these words: “We have no commitment towards this memo whatsoever.” The US and Israel can “do what they wish with regard to the sea or any other country in Africa, but when it comes to Egyptian land, we are not bound by anything except the safety and national security of the Egyptian people and Egypt’s ability to protect its borders.” Aboul Gheit reiterated that no weapons were being smuggled into Gaza from Egypt; he again stated that Hamas was rearming by sea. It seems that the Foreign Minister feels that the Israeli Navy is simply falling down on the job.

Aboul Gheit added that Israel is the main obstacle to an Egyptian sponsored peace, and that “Israeli intransigence” is due to that Jewish state being “drunk with power and violence.”

Israeli responses

A poll taken by the War and Peace Index after the first week of fighting showed that 90% of Jewish Israelis surveyed believed that this war should continue until it has achieved its goals – total cessation of rocket fire and terror attacks, and a total halt to smuggling of weapons into Gaza. Polls taken Sunday indicated that approximately 40% of Israelis are in favor of a ceasefire. This is due to the fact that the two main objectives listed by the cabinet were not totally achieved.

Knesset Member (MK) Avigdor Lieberman commented, “The Israeli people cannot live in peace while Hamas is in control of Gaza. Any armistice will surely be used by Hamas to prepare for the next conflict.” He stated that what was needed was “crushing Hamas’ motivation to fight us”; “Past experience shows us that ceasefires become deathtraps.”

SHABAK (Israeli FBI) Chief Yuval Diskin stated that “if Israel doesn’t deal with the problem of the Philadelphi route (ed., the smuggling tunnels), the situation will go back to the way it was within a number of months.”

MK Yuval Steinitz (former Chairman of the following Israeli Government Committees – Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee; Subcommittee for Intelligence and Secret Services; and Joint Security Committee Between the Knesset and the US Congress) said, “I fear that the main objectives of the IDF operation in Gaza have not been met. It is not clear what mechanism will prevent the arms smuggling into Gaza or why we can rely on Egypt.”

Likud whip MK Gideon Sa’ar added; “We assume Hamas will continue to arm itself, and we will find ourselves in another conflict with the organization in the near future after it has obtained long-range rockets.”

The Jerusalem Post’s David Horovitz says that “a definitive result has not been achieved” in this war.

Former Prime Minister MK Bibi Netanyahu noted that “the IDF has dealt Hamas a severe blow, but unfortunately the job has not been completed. Hamas still controls Gaza and will continue to smuggle improved rockets through the Philadelphi route. We cannot show any weakness in the face of the Iranian-backed Hamas terror and must act with an iron fist to defeat the enemy.”

Televised interviews with two mothers whose sons were recently killed in Operation Cast Lead revealed that both mothers were opposed to stopping the operation, and both felt that their sons would have wanted the operation to continue until the rockets are stopped, Hamas control over Gaza is broken, and Staff-Sergeant Gilad Shalit (kidnapped by Hamas and held incommunicado for nearly 940 days) is freed.

An article in Yediot Aharonot (Israel’s leading Hebrew paper) noted that “many soldiers in the field” see the unilateral ceasefire as “a missed opportunity to crush Hamas.”  “We could have done a lot more. There’s a feeling the operation ended too early” said soldiers.

Avi Farhan, a resident of Sderot (who had been evacuated from Yamit in 1982 under PM Begin’s Camp David pullout, and again from Gaza in August 2005 under PM Sharon’s disengagement) commented, “We have witnessed a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and we’ve seen what has happened since then. Now they decide on a unilateral ceasefire with no one asking what part Egypt has played so far in the smuggling of all the weapons to the Gaza Strip. All we want and demand is to let the IDF win. We don’t want decisions to be made now for election considerations and other political considerations.”

European responses

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said, “Hamas must halt rocket attacks on Israel and the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, UK PM Gordon Brown, Spanish Premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi and Czech PM Mirek Topolánek all flew in for a whirlwind series of press conferences and photo opportunities at Sharm esh-Sheikh, Egypt and Jerusalem, Israel.

British PM Gordon Brown said, “We are prepared to provide British naval support to stop arms trafficking … At the same time, we’re prepared to provide European support for monitoring at the (Gaza-Egypt) crossings.” Considering that Hamas’ rockets enter Gaza by land through Sudan and Egypt, even the Royal Navy may find that assignment somewhat challenging.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Walner declared that the “ceasefire should be followed by the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.”  Would it have been too much to have hoped for some comment about peace being somehow connected to Hamas no longer attacking Israel?

France’s Nicolas Sarkozy stated, “Israel should state immediately and clearly that if rocket fire will stop, the Israeli army will leave Gaza. There is no other solution to achieve peace.” French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier added that “an international conference should be quickly organized” for launching “a dynamic for negotiations” on creating a Palestinian state. Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair said that the Arab initiative for peace between the Palestinians and Israel is “not dead” but requires a new endorsement of the two-state solution from all parties involved.

Most Israelis do not think that now is a good time for peace, and that a continuing Hamas presence in Gaza will do nothing to aid tranquility in the region. And of course, from a biblical perspective, the dividing up of the land of Israel (as Blair and Sarkozy et al advocate) is a rather dangerous assignment for any world power to attempt.

The Obama factor

Having surveyed the significant glitches and strategic problems inherent in a unilateral ceasefire, one must ask what compelling reason might there be in favor of ending Operation Cast Lead so suddenly. The compelling reason is the calendar date of January 20 – the Inauguration Ceremony of President Barak Hussein Obama, soon the 44th President of the United States of America.

According to senior Israeli cabinet officials, Israeli PM Olmert decided to withdraw from Gaza prior to the inauguration “as a gesture to the incoming President”, not wanting to “embarrass” President Obama as he takes office. These senior officials added that the cabinet reached its decision approving a unilateral ceasefire because political considerations began to outweigh the military considerations. As well,  intense international pressure to stop the fighting was brought to bear on Israel.

➢      As we pray for the continued safety of Israel and the defeat of her enemies, we need to lift up Israel’s political and military leadership, asking for the God of Jacob to grant them courage, strength, clarity, discernment and revelation, and for the fear of God to triumph over the fear of man.

Riots and anti-Semitism

A Saturday demonstration in Paris organized by EuroPalestine brought 2,600 demonstrators marching towards the Israeli Embassy before they were stopped by the local gendarmerie. Israeli and US flags were burned, and for good measure the windows of a nearby McDonald’s were shattered. London , not to be outdone, witnessed the shattering of a local Starbucks shop window on January 10 in an anti-Israel demonstration. These two rather powerful examples of political activism spilling into pseudo-revolutionary violence find their common ground in pogrom-like anti-Semitism.

On Sunday, 200 violent Beirutis were stopped with water cannons and tear gas as they attempted to cut through the barbed wire perimeter surrounding the US Embassy.

Also on Sunday Indonesian Islamist cleric Abu Bakar Bashir (founder of Islamist terror group Jemaah Islamiah – see http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/ji.htm), called for a jihad against Israel in his sermon to 500 at a local mosque in Bekasi, east of Jakarta: “The war in Palestine isn’t a war between one country and another, it is a religious war. The Jews try to destroy Islam, and so Muslims must join, to fight in their own capacity.”

On Saturday a Berlin court struck down an administrative ban on demonstrators using Hamas flags, clothing and banners, but felt constrained to prohibit calls to murder Israeli or Jews at public demonstrations. Recent demonstrations in Germany have been marked by calls to “kill, kill Israelis”, “kill, kill Jews” and “Juden raus!” (“Jews out!”, a Nazi slogan). Though Hamas is on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations (September 2003), freedom of speech for anti-Semites won the day in Berlin.

In an article in the German Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger entitled “Vom Wegsehen und Vergessen” (“About averting one’s gaze and forgetting”), political commentator Tobias Kaufmann notes that in today’s Germany “blatant anti-Semitism is blossoming. Germany is currently experiencing perhaps the largest anti-Jewish manifestations since World War II. Jews are called child-murderers, and Israel is compared with the Third Reich.”

Precedents, jihad and Arab shame

Three thoughts in closing:

1. Israel took unilateral steps in its withdrawal from West Bank cities (1994) after which Yasser Arafat’s PLO filled the vacuum; in its withdrawal from Lebanon (2000) after which Hezbollah filled the vacuum; and in its withdrawal (“disengagement”) from Gaza (2005) after which Hamas filled the vacuum. In each case terror was subsequently directed against Israeli civilians as the relinquished territory became a jihadi base for killing Israelis. Unilateral withdrawals have an abysmal track record in this part of the Middle East.

➢      Pray for Israel’s leaders to have the veil of fear lifted from their eyes and hearts vis-à-vis the displeasure or opposition of the nations.

2. Islamic jihad is a powerful spiritual force. Most Westerners are far too secular to appreciate this, and have ignored jihad to their national detriment. Until the power of jihadi Islam is broken over the Middle East and Central Asia, there will be no peace for the Western world and no peace for the Middle East. That, and not  a Palestinian state, is the real deal-breaker.

➢      Pray that the God of Israel will cause the anti-Christ religion of jihadi Islam to collapse, and for a new harvest to take place throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

3. Embedded deep with the Arab and Islamic culture is a life-and-death polarity between honor and shame (highly recommended is The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs, by David Pryce-Jones; Ivan R. Dee Publishers, Chicago 1989). Leaders in the Arab world know that their survival depends on their supporters’ honoring them, and these leaders’ demise is directly connected to the level of shame they tolerate. So Hamas boasts that it has won the recent war, because if it admits the truth (that it has been decimated by Israel, a non-Islamic power) it will lose its status, its influence and eventually its head in Gaza. Mubarak refuses to stop smuggling on Egypt’s Gaza border because he knows that if he allows foreign forces to operate on Egyptian soil, he will be targeted by Osama Bin Laden and his followers – as another apostate Arab ruler who has allowed the “Western infidel” to obtain another foothold on Islamic soil.

➢      Pray for deliverance and salvation for President Mubarak of Egypt, for the Hamas leadership, and for Mahmoud Abbas and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. While you’re at it, pray for the salvation of many Hezbollah adherents, and for many Syrian and Jordanian seekers of truth.

➢      And end your prayers with one penultimate prayer for the salvation and deliverance of Israel and the Jewish people!

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

War With Hamas – Post-Ceasefire

Background to the recent war

Hamas or ‘The Islamic Resistance Movement’ (for deeper background on Hamas and all archived newsletters on the war see www.davidstent.org, under “words”, newsletters February 2006, June 2007) is linked with the Muslim Brotherhood, a world jihadi group ideologically connected to Osama Bin Laden.  Hamas has fired over 10,000 rockets and mortars against civilian targets in Israel over the past 8 years. Sporadic firing of rockets against Israel continued during a recent temporary “cessation of hostilities”, and that season was used by Hamas to build up forces and weaponry in preparation for the present continued attacks on Israel.

On December 19 2008 Hamas refused to extend even that partial cease-fire and began intensive rocketing Israeli kibbutzim, towns and cities on the average of 40-50 attacks a day. On Saturday December 27 Israel Air Force jets attacked Hamas forces in Gaza, finally responding to years of Hamas rocket attacks. On January 3 2009 a land invasion of Gaza was initiated. The war lasted for just over 22 days. A unilateral ceasefire was declared on Saturday evening January 17, going into effect Sunday January 18 at 2 am, after which Israel troops evacuated the Gaza Strip by January 20.

Gaza after the cease-fire

IDF troops pulled out of Gaza on the evening of Tuesday January 20, President Obama’s Inauguration Day. Their pullout had been delayed by post-ceasefire Hamas mortar fire and sniping. Sporadic Hamas mortar fire continued up to January 24, though most of the mortars which were fired landed within the Gaza Strip.

Since the ceasefire Hamas gunmen continue to hijack humanitarian aid trucks and steal much of the aid, as well as to assault UNRWA drivers. They have prevented Gazans from accessing Israeli medical clinics at the Erez crossing (set up to treat Palestinian Gazans).

Hamas is currently engaged in a vendetta against Palestinian Authority (PA) members of Mahmoud Abbas’ former PLO/Fatah.  Ehab al-Ghsain, Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman, said that “the Internal Security Service was instructed to track collaborators and hit them hard.” This euphemistic “tracking” refers to Hamas rounding up, torturing and killing PA loyalists. Well over 100 confirmed PA people have been shot in their legs or have had their hands broken; at least three have had their eyes gouged out; many are being tortured at a children’s hospital and at a mental health center in Gaza City, as well as at school buildings in Khan Yunis and Rafah. An unnamed Fatah operative said, “What’s happening in the Gaza Strip is a new massacre that is being carried out by Hamas against Fatah.” It remains to be seen whether or not the world’s media will care that much about Palestinian deaths when they are “only” caused by fellow Arabs in Hamas.

Photos of smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza are front page news in Israel. These tunnels are being re-dug and are in busy operation. Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon estimates that it will take Hamas one year to re-arm and make up for its losses before it is ready to attack Israel again. This explains Hamas’ strategy in seeking only a one year lull (tahadiya in Arabic) in the fighting.

How “moderate” is Fatah in Gaza?

The US and Europe classify Hamas as a jihadi terror organization, while its sister organization the Muslim Brotherhood is illegal in Egypt. Another major Palestinian organization exists in Gaza called Al-Fatah. Fatah is the largest faction of Yassir Arafat’s PLO (also called the PA or Palestinian Authority). It is considered by the Western world to be a moderate Palestinian organization, and most Western aid has been funneled through the PA.

Active in terror for more nearly three decades, in September 1993 Arafat gave public commitments to Israel, Norway and the USA that the PLO would abandon terror and armed struggle against Israel. As a result Israel co-signed the Oslo Accords, recognizing the PLO/PA/Fatah as “the representative of the Palestinian people” and “commencing negotiations with the PLO.”

Though the accepted Western perspective is that the PA is now moderate and committed to non-violence, the truth is rather different. Arafat may have publicly declared pacifism on the White House lawn, but he continued to fund and administrate terror for a decade post-Oslo. Occasionally Israeli intelligence has been able to present “smoking guns” – incontrovertible evidence – incriminating the PLO and blowing their cover.

On May 7 2001 the Santorini arms smuggling ship (loaded with Iranian arms and headed for Gaza) was commandeered by Israel’s Shayetet 13 Navy commandos. On January 3 2002 the Karine A was boarded, again by Shayetet 13, again under control of Arafat’s people, again full of Iranian and Russian weapons (packed in 80 submersible containers to be tossed overboard at the Gaza coast). Documents seized by IDF special forces from Arafat’s Muqata HQ in Ramallah (April 2002) confirmed his paying of terrorists’ salaries for specific attacks against Israelis. The PLO’s declarations of moderation were simply lies 15 years ago, and the Palestinian Authority’s “peace declarations” today are also lies.

Arafat’s successor today is Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority. He graduated from Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow in 1982, and his thesis was later published as a book titled “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism” in which Abbas described the Holocaust as a “the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed.” His conviction is that the “number of Jewish victims (was) only a few hundred thousand.”

After Operation Cast Lead, Fatah in Gaza declared that they had fully participated in the jihad against Israel, firing 137 mortars and rockets on Israeli towns, farms and cities.

The first phone call that President Obama made (8 am on his first day of work in the White House) was to PA head Mahmoud Abbas. In that conversation Obama pledged to work with Abbas as a partner for a lasting peace in the region.

Hamas declares “unilateral victory”

Hamas and its allies continue to declare that Israel has been defeated. “With full trust and full confidence I say the Palestinians people and the heroic resistance have won this battle. Hamas today is stronger than any time before”, said Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri. On January 20th banners carried at Hamas’ victory parade read, “The resistance will be victorious; Israel has been defeated.”  Hamas Politburo chief Khaled Mashaal declared that Hamas had “gained legitimacy through struggle” and insisted that the EU should begin dialogue with Hamas.

On the other hand, Lt.-Col. Rick Francona, a former US Air Force intelligence officer and military analyst for NBC News, said to Israel, “You’ve won the battle.” It is his perspective that the ceasefire is “just the end of this round, and that seems to be Israeli policy right now. The best Israel can go for is to manage the conflict until Hamas can be made to go away,” Francona said.

Lt.-Gen. Thomas McInerney, a 35-year veteran of the US Air Force and a Fox News military analyst, said on January 20 during a visit to Israel, “I think you achieved what one Israeli general called ‘changing the reality’ in which Hamas operates, but I think you were too restrained and could have gone deeper into Gaza … The Israeli public’s support for this war mutes global opinion. When a nation is united in its right to defend itself, it makes it more difficult for Europeans, the Left or the Arab media to counter that … Your leadership is too sensitive about world opinion. I know why Israel didn’t (drive deeper into Gaza) – you have an election coming up and a new (US) president taking office, but you need to gain the freedom of operation in Gaza that you have in the West Bank.”

His take on the Israeli unilateral ceasefire?  “Israel did not want to destroy Hamas. I believe you should have.”

Israeli perspectives

Dr. Dan Shiftan (head of National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa) recently wrote an article “Limits of Restraint.” In it he analyzes the strategic nature of Israel’s response to Hamas rocket fire targeting its citizenry and originating from within Gazan civilian areas. Israel’s willingness to sow disproportional destruction on its enemies is a clear message to some of its unfriendly Middle Eastern neighbors: “Destruction in Gaza contributes to the prevention of war with Lebanon and Syria, assists Egypt and Jordan in fighting radical elements, and signals Israel’s limits of restraint to Iran.”

Colonel Yigal Slovik, Commander of Armored Corps’ 401st Brigade, described how entering his first booby-trapped house in Gaza removed his moral reservations about low-intensity urban conflict. “When you see one house that is laden with explosives, and then the one next to is also booby-trapped or serves as a weapons cache – then there is no dilemma … As a father, looking into the house and seeing a photo of children – then clearly it touches the heart – but if there is a possibility that my soldiers will get hurt as a result of an explosion from inside that house, then I’d rather feel bad over the photo than bury five of my soldiers. We did not destroy homes; we acted against terror infrastructure.”

European perspectives

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France stated at the Sharm esh-Sheikh press conference, “In our minds, this is the beginning of our journey. We should continue and we should accelerate our efforts in order to achieve a settlement based on the creation of two states, a Palestinians state living side-by-side with an Israeli state that has the right to its security.” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner added that this should happen “very quickly.”

Trine Lilleng, First Secretary of the Norwegian Embassy in Riyadh, sent out a newsletter juxtapositioning Holocaust pictures of Jews alongside of color photos of Operation Cast Lead. She stated, “The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from WW II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany.” Does Lilleng actually believe that death camps and gas chambers exist in Gaza?

The amount of anti-Jewish attacks has risen more than 300% since the same time last year. Most of these anti-Semitic attacks have focused on the Gaza war, and have involved verbal and physical attacks on Jewish people and Israel supporters.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on the leaders of eight countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland (where recent demonstrations were starkly anti-Semitic in nature) to publicly condemn “the explosion of anti-Semitic rhetoric.” Posters and banners with Nazi imagery, as well as genocidal chants comparing Jewish Holocaust victims to Gazans have been widely used at anti-Israel demonstrations in the past three weeks.

The ADL statement said, “Blatantly anti-Semitic displays have contributed to an unacceptable wave of anti-Semitic threats of violence, intimidation and attacks against Jewish communal institutions and individuals in many countries … While it is important to take immediate steps to increase security measures for the Jewish community for the protection of property and the personal safety of individuals, there is also an urgent need for your government to publicly and forcefully speak out against such anti-Semitic attacks to make it clear that anti-Semitism, hatred and bigotry of any kind has no place in your country.”

The Time of The Hunters

The prophet Jeremiah described a time (yet future in his day) when God would bring the Jewish people back to Israel in an Ingathering greater than the Exodus from Egypt (Jeremiah 16:14-15). At that time there will be a movement of fishers – people who benignly participate in and catalyze this return (verse 17). As well, Jeremiah said that there will be a last-days movement of hunters – men and women who will hunt down and destroy the Jewish people in a scenario very similar to Hitler’s Final Solution.

A dear prophetic friend James Goll told me of how God spoke to him on the morning of September 11 2001. The Lord told James, “Turn on your TV.” He did so and saw the second jet crash into the Twin Towers in NYC. Then the Lord told James, “The time of the hunters has begun.”

We are now in the season where anti-Semitism is increasing exponentially, and it will grow until it even outstrips that of Hitler’s Nazi Reich. The war in Gaza is being used by Satan to catalyze and jump-start a European and Western anti-Semitism that has merely lain dormant, and an international Islamist anti-Israel movement that daily prays and strives for a jihadi vision of Israel’s future.

➢      Pray for the protection and salvation of the entire Jewish people; that Diaspora Jews will wake up to the growing danger of world anti-Semitism; and that believers in Yeshua worldwide will be ready to stand with the Jewish people and the Jewish state, having counted the cost.

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

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