(Denver, Colorado) — “Hamas is in crisis,” says the former head of IDF operations.
“Major General (res.) Israel Ziv says movement has got itself into “conundrum” since the Gaza op started, with hardly any significant accomplishments, adds that “they are fighting now because they’re not sure they’ll get a second chance,” reports Ynet News.
Unconfirmed reports out of Israel say the IDF has now identified and destroyed 85% of the Hamas terror tunnels.
Now comes word of a 72-hour cease fire. Will it hold? We shall see.
Here’s what we know so far:
“Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire beginning Friday, during which time there will be negotiations on a more durable truce in the 24-day-old Gaza war, the United States and United Nations announced Thursday,” reports the Associated Press. “The announcement came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to destroy Hamas’s tunnel network “with or without a ceasefire” and as the Palestinian death toll soared past 1,400 (including hundreds of Hamas gunmen).”
“Netanyahu on Thursday said that Israel will continue to destroy infiltration tunnels from Gaza regardless of ceasefire efforts,” reported Haaretz.
“I won’t agree to any proposal that will not enable the Israeli military to complete this important task for the sake of Israel’s security,” he said.
Reuters reported that “Hamas said it would abide by a three-day mutual cease-fire with Israel to begin early on Friday. ‘Acknowledging a call by the United Nations and in consideration of the situation of our people, resistance factions agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian and mutual calm that begins at 8 a.m on Friday as long as the other side abides by it,’ Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said. ‘All the Palestinian factions are united behind the issue in this regard.'”
“Thursday saw 90 rockets fired at Israel, several Israelis hurt by mortar fire, ongoing IDF strikes at Hamas targets in Gaza and tunnel demolitions, and US criticism of an Israeli strike that killed a reported 15 people at a UN school in Gaza on Wednesday,” noted the Times of Israel. “Fifty-six soldiers and three civilians have been killed on the Israeli side in the 24 days of fighting, while Gazan health officials put the death toll there at over 1,400. Israel says several hundreds of those are Hamas fighters. Fifty-six soldiers and three civilians have been killed on the Israeli side in the 24 days of fighting, while Gazan health officials put the death toll there at over 1,400. Israel says several hundreds of those are Hamas fighters.”
(Denver, Colorado) — This is Day #24 of the Gaza war. Is the Church doing enough to love the people who are suffering in the epicenter, in obedience to the Scriptures?
Now more than ever, is it vital for Christian leaders and lay people to speak out in solidarity with Israel — and even go visit Israel soon — as Jews and Arabs defend themselves against Radical Islam. Day after day, Israel is facing not only an onslaught of terrorism but an evil double-standard. Israeli citizens have absorbed more than 2,800 rocket attacks and numerous terror squads who have come from the Gaza Strip to murder innocent men, women and children. Yet rather than receive encouragement from world democracies who see a fellow democracy under attack, much of the world is turning against Israel. Anti-Semitic attacks are skyrocketing, especially in Europe. Israel is being condemned at the U.N., blasted by world leaders, and even pressured by our President and Secretary of State to immediately stop defending themselves and accept a premature ceasefire.
This is morally wrong. Indeed, it is unconscionable and indefensible. Israel not only has the right but the responsibility to defend its citizens, both Jews and Arabs and those of other ethnicities. In fighting the terrorists sworn to obliterate her, Israel is doing what any civilized democracy would do. It is tragic that civilians in Gaza are being killed and injured. But Israel isn’t targeting them. They are warning them to get out of the way — using text messages, phone calls, leaflets and other measures. It is Hamas who is using civilians as human shields. It is Hamas who wants as many Palestinians to die as possible, hoping this will cause the world to turn even further against Israel. Israel must do everything it can to prevent the loss of innocent life. They must set the highest possible standard. But Hamas bears ultimate responsibility for all the death and destruction. This war wouldn’t be happening if Hamas wasn’t attacking Israel day after day.
The Bible is clear how much God loves the Jewish people. From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures are clear that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has a great plan and purpose for the nation of Israel. And the Lord calls all of us to love Israel and the Jewish people, not because they are perfect, but because He loves them and wants them to know Him in a real and personal and intimate way. In Genesis 12:3, the Lord God says, “I will bless those who bless thee, and curse those who curse thee.” Which side do you want to be on? I want to be on the side of blessing Israel, in obedience to the Lord. Followers of Jesus Christ should pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all of Israel. But we should also speak out in her defense. We should stand up against the injustice and evil she is being subjected to. We should stand with her people who are under attack hour by hour, and show unconditional love and unwavering support.
My wife and four sons and I are leaving for Israel on August 14th. Indeed, we would leave earlier if we could, but this is the soonest we can depart. We look forward to spending time with Israelis and Palestinians, to pray with them, to serve them and encourage them, especially at such a time as this. I’ll write more about that soon.
May the Lord guide you to travel to Israel as soon as possible, and give you great wisdom, safety and sensitivity as you go.
At the same time, it is vital for Christian leaders and lay people to show compassion towards Palestinians who are being crushed and oppressed by Hamas. The Bible is clear: God loves the Jews, but He also loves the Arabs. Jesus, as a Jew living in Israel, commanded His followers to “love your neighbor” and “love your enemy.” He traveled to Lebanon and ministered to the people there. He traveled across the Jordan River, and ministered to the people there. In the Book of Acts, we read that He sent on of His servants to minister to people on the road to Gaza. Christians are commanded to love the Arab people not because they are perfect, but because He loves them and wants them to know Him in a real and personal and intimate way. So while Christians are to love Israel and bless the Jewish people, we are not to stop there. We are to love the Palestinian Arab people, as well.
It is important for Christians to know the facts and keep the current conflict in perspective. In 2005, Israel withdrew all its military forces from Gaza. The people of Gaza were free. They could have built great schools and a growing economy and seaside resorts. But Hamas took control of the Strip in 2006 and began to suffocate and oppress the Palestinian people. Hamas turned Gaza into a terrorist base camp. They have murdered those who speak out against them. They have enslaved the people. They have triggered three wars. They don’t care about the welfare of the Palestinian people. They only care about establishing a Radical Islamic caliphate and killing anyone who gets in their way. To love the Palestinian people, then, is to want them to be set free from the Hamas reign of terror.
Far too many Christians are saying that all Palestinians are all terrorists. As I’ve written before, this is not true — it’s unbiblical and unfair. There are many Palestinian moderates. Indeed, there are a growing number of truly born-again Palestinian Christians. I’ve many hundreds of them and count them as friends. What’s more, the most recent credible polls show most Palestinians in Gaza turning against Hamas, wanting a ceasefire, wanting calm and stable relations with Israel and even wanting to work in Israel. To love the Palestinian people, then, is to understand that there are a wide range of religious, political and philosophical views amongst them. Just as we shouldn’t see all Jews as the same, so we shouldn’t see all Palestinians as the same.
Now is the time for Christians to be praying for the Palestinian people — in Gaza, and on the West Bank. But don’t simply pray. Speak out for their liberation from Hamas and Radical Islam. Stand against the injustice and evil they have been suffering. Call on world leaders to stand against Hamas, and for the freedom and opportunity of the Palestinian people. And encourage Arab and Jewish followers of Jesus Christ to be able to preach the Gospel of freedom and forgiveness and eternal life to all Palestinians, as well as all Israelis.
It is not advisable to visit Gaza at this time, of course. But I would encourage Christian leaders who are visiting Israel to be sure to visit Palestinians as well — not to discuss politics, perhaps not even to discuss the war, but to show them you love them, you can for them, and you want to stand with them for peace in troubled times.
“The timing of Rosenberg’s visit to Iowa couldn’t come at a better time,” writes Craig Robinson, a prominent Iowa political writer. “Rosenberg was a political consultant before he focused on his writing career. In his former vocation, Rosenberg not only consulted for U.S. politicians like Steve Forbes, but also provided his services to former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky and then-former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
“Needless to say, Rosenberg is well versed in world affairs and especially the Israeli-Palestinian geopolitical struggle,” noted Robinson. “To have a speaker with Rosenberg’s knowledge come to Iowa during the Gaza War is unique. Rosenberg spoke at a FAMiLY Leader event a few years ago and dazzled the audience. I expect him to do the same this year. If you are looking for some great insight on the Gaza War, I would highly recommend checking out his Flash Traffic Blog. I also highly recommend his fiction and non-fiction books. Not only are they great reads, but even his fictional books are educational and eerily realistic. For instance, when I heard the news that Hamas had fired rockets at an Israeli nuclear facility, my mind raced to a scene out of Rosenberg’s fictional book, Damascus Countdown, which contained a very detailed description of a similar event.”
Source: Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
(Denver, Colorado) — The most recent credible polling of Palestinians in Gaza reveals sinking support for Hamas, rising support for the Palestinian Authority to run Gaza instead of Hamas, and an overwhelming desire for a ceasefire, reports the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
88% want the Palestinian Authority (PA) — not Hamas — to run Gaza administratively
70% want a ceasefire
57% want Hamas to renounce violence against Israel
56% would like to work in Israel if calm was restored and they could find a better-paying job than in Gaza
To be sure, the poll finds that a large number of Palestinians in Gaza do support Hamas and violence. Support for a two-state solution has dropped significantly.
Also, this is only a snapshot in time. We will need to see more polling results in the days and weeks ahead to understand how public opinion in Gaza — and the West Bank — is shifting as a result of the intensity of the war with Israel.
But the poll does make clear that many Gazan Palestinians are giving up on Hamas. Many see the quiet and stability of the PA’s governance on the West Bank as a better model. They don’t love Israel by any means, but many Gazans don’t want war. They overwhelmingly want a ceasefire and for the fighting to stop on both sides.
Again, it’s too soon to draw any conclusions. But let’s hope and pray that this war ends quickly, that the Lord heals and comforts all those who are suffering, that the people of Gaza decide they are done with Hamas and its terrorist policies and allies, and that a deep public desire for calm and rebuilding prevails.
GAZANS WANTED A CEASEFIRE EVEN AS HAMAS STARTED FIRING ROCKETS
As tensions mounted and Hamas and other Gazan factions began to step up rocket fire last month, the people of that territory were heavily in favor of a ceasefire — 70 percent of the poll respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Hamas should maintain a ceasefire with Israel in both Gaza and the West Bank.” This attitude is corroborated by the 73 percent of Gazans who said Palestinians should adopt “proposals for (nonviolent) popular resistance against the occupation.” Similarly, when asked if Hamas should accept Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s position that the new unity government renounce violence against Israel, a clear majority (57 percent) answered in the affirmative. The responses to all three questions clearly indicate that most Gazans reject military escalation. Attitudes may have shifted since the poll due to anger at Israeli airstrikes, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the Gazan public still supports a ceasefire.
HAMAS FAILING TO DELIVER
The poll also demonstrates that Gazans are unhappy with Hamas governance — on multiple levels. A large majority (71 percent) considered crime to be a “significant” problem. Two-thirds said that another significant problem was official corruption. Moreover, a large majority (78 percent) found the “presence of Palestinian militias that are not organized under the formal security structure” to be at least a “moderate” problem.
In light of this dissatisfaction with Hamas security forces and administration, most respondents favored the prospect of the PA taking over Gaza. A remarkable 88 percent agreed with the statement “The PA should send officials and security officers to Gaza to take over administration there” — including two-thirds who “strongly” agreed.
HAMAS LEADERS HAVE MEAGER POLITICAL SUPPORT
Also very striking, and contrary to common misperception, is the fact that Hamas did not gain politically from the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers that sparked the current crisis last month. Asked who should be the president of Palestine in the next two years, a solid majority in Gaza named either Abbas or other leaders affiliated with the Fatah Party. In stark contrast, Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashal rated a combined total of just 15 percent support.
MAJORITY OF GAZANS WANT ISRAELI JOBS
The Gazan economy has receded over the past year as unemployment climbed to around 40 percent. Egypt’s closure of multiple smuggling tunnels and the Fatah-Hamas dispute over post-reconciliation salaries have only exacerbated this dire economic situation. The results of the June poll go even further than these indicators, showing that Gazans would be willing to look to Israel for their livelihood. Respondents overwhelmingly (82 percent) said they “would like to see Israel allow more Palestinians to work in Israel.” Still more poignantly, a majority (56 percent) said they “would be personally willing to work in Israel if there was a good, high-paying job.” Thus, Gazans actually favored some form of normalization with Israel in order to find work.
NOTE: I originally posted this column on July 9th, but I am reposting it because I am hoping more Christians will read and consider it. I’m concerned that far too many Christians who love Israel and the Jewish people are dismissing all Palestinians as terrorists and radicals and extremists. This is unfair and unbiblical. Indeed, there are true moderates among the Palestinians we need to get to know and appreciate and hear their perspective on what is happening.
As I watch the on-going current crisis, I am deeply concerned for Israeli civilians, especially those who live in the south. But my also heart breaks for the Palestinians, especially those who live in Gaza.
Both sides are suffering. Both sides are feeling pain. And as a follower of Jesus Christ, I want to find ways that Christians can bless and care for and show compassion to both sides.
At the same time I admit I find myself asking some difficult questions.
Why did Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) recently make a peace agreement with Hamas, a terrorist organization affiliated with the Radicals of the Muslim Brotherhood?
Why isn’t the PA deploying security forces in Gaza to stop the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists to stop the rockets from being fired at Israel, and thus ending the need for Israel to fight Hamas directly?
Why isn’t the PA taking the lead in fighting the terrorists and retaking control of Gaza and making it quiet, calm and safe?
Why after nine years since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and handed full control over to the PA have the Palestinian leadership not turned Gaza into a model of freedom and opportunity, rather than a place of such suffering and sadness and a base camp for terrorism?
At the moment, I don’t see clear answers to these questions. That doesn’t mean I will stop having compassion on the Palestinian people. To the contrary, I feel even more compassion because I don’t see their leaders making wise choices to truly help their people. Rather, I see the Palestinians in Gaza as sheep without a shepherd, feeling harassed and helpless.
Sometimes I find myself wondering, along with many Americans: Are there moderate Palestinians out there who don’t want war but truly seek peace? Are there any Palestinian leaders who are true Reformers, who don’t simply want to talk about making peace, but are serious about building competent security services who will make and enforce true peace? Are there Palestinian Reformers who are serious about creating an economic and civil infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza capable of blessing the Palestinian people and establishing the foundation upon which peace with Israelis can be built?
Fortunately, I believe the answer is yes.
The problem is such people currently have little or no political power right now.
In recent years, I have come to know many Palestinian Arab Christians — pastors and lay leaders — and I can assure you they don’t want war with Israel. Some are political. Most aren’t. They’re mostly Revivalists who believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the main hope for their people. At the same time, they truly want a peaceful environment where they can serve the Lord and make disciples and care for the poor and needy and raise their children and build a future without this terrible scourge of violence. We don’t agree on all matters of theology, or geopolitics. But that’s okay. They love Christ. They love His Word. They are serving Him faithfully. Indeed, they have suffered for His name, and they are seeking peace for their people, and for their neighbors. I admire and appreciate them for that. May their tribe increase.
I have also met a Palestinian officials and business leaders who I also believe truly seek peace. I know first hand that it is not accurate to believe that all Palestinians are cheering this rocket war with Israel. Just the opposite is true. Many Palestinians are grieving what is happening, as are Arabs elsewhere in the region. Jordan’s King Abdullah II, for example, and his government are true moderate Arab Reformers. They don’t want this war. They have made peace with Israel and they want peace and dignity for the Palestinian people, as well as for the Israelis.
One leader I have not yet met, but would like to, is a man named Salam Fayyad. You may not have ever heard of him, but it’s worth your time to learn about him and listen to his views.
Fayyad is a Palestinian. An economist. A moderate. A Reformer. Until not long ago, he served as the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Before that, he served as the PA’s Finance Minister. To read several excellent columns and articles about his ideas and his work, please click here, here, and here.
On July 3rd — as the latest rocket war intensified — Fayyad participated in a conversation with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. It was a fascinating conversation, and I commend it to your attention. You may not agree with everything he says. But it’s important to listen to an interesting, principled, experienced Palestinian husband, father, and leader who cares deeply for his people and wants to create a calm, peaceful, prosperous environment for both Palestinians and Israelis.
Please pray for Dr. Fayyad, for his family and his colleagues. Among other things, please pray that he and other Reformers like him would have increasing influence in the Palestinian society.
As an evangelical Christian, I know that the Scriptures teach that true, lasting, comprehensive peace will never come to the Middle East or the rest of the world until the Lord Jesus Christ — whom the prophet Isaiah described as the “Prince of Peace” — returns to establish His kingdom and reign from Jerusalem. What’s more, I realized that Bible prophecy indicates that in the last days leading up to the return of Christ, the Middle East and nations around the globe will experience “wars and rumors of wars,” along with “revolutions” and “kingdoms rising against kingdoms and nations against nations.”
But I also know that the Bible commands believers not to wait for that final, perfect peace, but to seek peace here and now.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” we read in Psalm 122:6.
“Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it,” we read in Psalm 34:14 and 1 Peter 3:11.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14:19, “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”
“Love your neighbors as yourself,” said Jesus in Matthew 19:19.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Jesus said in Matthew 5:44.
The Bible is clear that governments are instituted by God to establish justice and protect people from all enemies, foreign and domestic. So followers of Christ should want all people to be governed by honest leaders who can establish safety, security and environment of hope, growth and opportunity. This is all part of our Biblical commitment to seeking peace, making peace, and not letting ourselves become cynical when peace efforts falter.
As people who love Christ and care about the people of the epicenter, we must start by praying for peace. But let us not stop there. Now, more than ever, we need to be seeking peace in the epicenter. Because people on both sides are suffering and God loves the Arabs and the Jews.
Mosab Hassan Yousef is the eldest son of one of the founders of Hamas, Sheik Hassan Yousef, the spiritual leader of the organization on the West Bank.
As a youth, Mosab was arrested by the Israelis for involvement in terrorism.
In prison, he came to realize the true evil of Hamas.
In time, he renounced Islam, chose to become a follower of Jesus, and became a double agent for the Israeli secret services (Shin Bet) working to thwart Hamas terror attacks.
Later, he emigrated to the United States where he wrote a best-selling book, “Son of Hamas,” warning about the dangerous of Hamas and telling his own journey out of Radical Islam.
Now, with Hamas engaged in a brutal, deadly war with Israel, Mosab — a remarkably courageous young man — is again speaking out against the radical Islamic terror group of which he used to be a key operative and rising future leader.
Hamas is a “cancer” in the Middle East,” Mosab told radio host Mark Levin this week. The terror group does not represent the Palestinian people. “All they care about is conquest….They believe everyone is unclean and they are clean…..They are a radical force that are sending Palestinians to death on a daily basis.”
“Hamas does not care about the lives of the Palestinians, does not care about the lives of Israelis, or Americans,” Mosab told CNN this past week. “They don’t care about their own lives. They consider dying for the sake of their ideology a way of worship.”
“Hamas is not seeking coexistence [with Israel],” he noted. “Hamas is seeking conquest and taking over.”
He said the goal of Hamas isn’t not simply to destroy Israel but to build an Islamic caliphate on the rubble of every country in the region.
Please pray for Mosab — for his physical protection, for his spiritual life and growth, for the salvation of his father and his entire family, and for God to show him much grace and mercy. I’ve known him for several years, have been honored to spend time with him on several occasions and even have him to my home for dinner with my family, and have interacted with him on the phone and via email over the years. I have a great love and respect for him and believe he is a remarkably brave man. I pray for him because I know he is also under enormous pressure from all sides. His father has disowned him. Hamas wants to kill him. He is reviled by the Radical Islamic world. And he is still a young man trying to find his way, far from the world he grew up in, cut off from most of the people he knew and loved growing up. So I pray that as he grows and matures that he will become rooted and deeply grounded in the Scriptures, a devout and faithful follower of Christ, and a man with a cadre of strong, solid believers around him who love him and care for him and can advise and protect him from attacks of all kinds, political, physical and spiritual. I also pray the Lord will raise him up to be a great leader among the Palestinian people, speaking the truth in love and being a light to Israelis and all those in the Middle East, as well. I hope you’ll join me in these prayers. Thanks so much.
With events moving so rapidly in Israel and the Arab world — and the United States facing enormous economic, foreign policy, and spiritual challenges — it is vital that we truly understand the times from a Biblical perspective. What’s more, we need to understand what God is asking of each of us, and be faithful to the task.
To these ends, I’ve been asked to speak at two events next month and I hope you can attend at least one of them.
On Thursday evening, August 7th, I’ll be speaking in the Denver, Colorado area.
The topic of my address will be, “The future of America, Israel and the Middle East in the light of the Scriptures.”
The occassion will be the annual fundraising event for Ministry Architecture, Inc. This is the ministry my parents (Len and Mary Rosenberg) started around 14 years ago to provide architectural services for evangelical Christian ministries operating in developing countries who need orphanages, training centers, medical missionary hospitals, and other facilities to show the love of Jesus. Before I speak, my folks will share a bit about the exciting work God is doing through this ministry in countries in Africa and Asia. Then I will discuss the latest developments in the epicenter. And I’m especially looking forward to your questions as that is my favorite part of the evening.
The event will take place at Calvary Chapel South Denver in Littleton, Colorado, from 7:30pm to 9:30pm. Doors will open at 6:30pm. A contribution of $25 per person is requested to help support Ministry Architecture. Contributions are tax deductible. Registration is required, and you can register at www.ministryarchitecture.com. Please join us — I hope to see you there!
The Summit will be held Saturday, August 9th in the Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa, from 10am to 5:30pm.
“The Family Leadership Summit is designed to educate and mobilize the conservative base regarding worldview application and issues that impact the family,” notes the website. “The Summit will provide Iowans the opportunity to hear top conservative national leaders, gathered together in one place, cast their leadership vision.”
UPDATED AT 10:30PM EASTERN SUNDAY:(Washington, D.C.) — The most dramatic developments of the weekend in the Gaza war were these:
President Obama’s call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to demand an “immediate” ceasefire, even though Israeli leaders don’t feel they are yet finished neutralizing the terrorist threat posed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
The U.N. Security council demand on Sunday for an immediate ceasefire, even though this will most help the terrorists.
Turkey’s aggressively anti-Semitic language towards Israel and the Jewish people, which has reached a dangerous new low.
First, President Obama. “An immediate and unconditional ceasefire ending Israel’s assault on Hamas is a ‘clear strategic imperative’ to Israel, U.S. President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in a phone call on Sunday,” reported the Jerusalem Post. ” While the conversation focused on the immediate concerns of the United States, the president also discussed the broader implications of Israel’s operation in Gaza, Protective Edge, now over two weeks old and burdened with a mounting death toll, both within the Israel Defense Forces and the civilian population of Gaza. Obama told Netanyahu he wants a ceasefire ‘that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority,’ the White House said, in a readout of the call to reporters.”
That said, the Post noted that “in a recent poll, over 85 percent of Israelis support the Israeli government continuing the military operation until Hamas’ tunnels into Israel are completely destroyed.”
To be clear, I want an end to the fighting and a restoration of calm as soon as possible. But an even higher priority to me is that the terrorist threat in Gaza be truly and fundamentally neutralized.
In the past nineteen days, more than 2,500 rockets have been fired by terrorists in Gaza at Jewish and Arab civilians living in Israel. Israel has also discovered dozens of terror tunnels dug from Gaza under Israeli sovereign territory. From these, terrorists have tried to launch attacks against Israeli towns and villages, and kidnap Israeli soldiers and civilians. Like any normal, democratic nation, the Israeli government is taking all actions necessary to protect its people and defeat the terrorists.
Shouldn’t the U.S. — Israel’s most important geopolitical ally — by trying to help Israel win this war against the terrorists, not force a premature ceasefire? You might think so, but instead the Obama administration is working so hard to get Israel to stop fighting the terrorists. Indeed, the Kerry cease-fire plan — rejected by unanimously by the Israeli security cabinet on Friday — would have allowed Hamas to keep its rockets and terror tunnels.
Second, the U.N. — “The U.N. Security Council agreed on a statement Sunday calling for ‘an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire’ in the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas and scheduled a meeting at midnight to adopt it,” reports the Associated Press. “The council was meeting as Muslims started celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The push for a cease-fire follows new attacks by Israel and Hamas on Sunday despite going back and forth over proposals for another temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting.”
Fourth, Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (pronounced “Air-do-wan”) has become increasingly belligerent towards Israel and the Jewish people in recent years. But his anti-Semitism has hit staggering new lows in recent days. Consider the following headlines.
UPDATED:As I write this, the Israeli security cabinet is meeting to consider a seven-day ceasefire proposal by Secretary Kerry, even as Palestinians are rioting in the West Bank and Hamas is calling for a “third intifada.”
The big question Israeli leaders are wrestling with is this: Has the IDF destroyed enough of the terrorists’ rockets, missiles, launchers, tunnels, weapons stockpiles and command and control centers to justify stopping now, or do they need more time to accomplish the nation’s objectives of establishing several years or true calm and stability?
The good news: Israeli defensive measures have kept civilian deaths in Israel low (2 so far), and rocket fire has dropped from 190+ a day near the beginning of the conflict to 63 yesterday.
The bad news: the terrorist tunnel network is more extensive and dangerous than Israeli intelligence realized.
The challenge: Iron Dome is working extremely well at neutralizing the rocket threat, but there is no Iron Dome to protect Israel from terrorist tunnels.
Israel is coming under increasing pressure by the world community — and particularly by the Obama administration — to end the fighting quickly. Actually, it’s been Hamas that has turned down multiple ceasefire proposals. But their terrorist forces are getting hammered by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) so they may be ready to quit soon, lest they are completely dismantled by Israel. That said, Israeli leaders don’t want a ceasefire that will simply give Hamas and Islamic Jihad more time to prepare for the next war.
I will do my best to keep you posted via Twitter throughout the day and weekend on the latest diplomatic developments.
First, here are just two Bible passages that describe great and wise kings of Israel and Judah calling the people to turn to the God of Israel in prayer during times of war and conflict:
* King Solomon called the nation of Israel together to pray for God’s help and mercy in time of war — “Now Solomon had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. He said, ‘O Lord, the God of Israel, there is no god like You in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart;who has kept with Your servant David, my father, that which You have promised him; indeed You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day….When Your people go out to battle against their enemies, by whatever way You shall send them, and they pray to You toward this city which You have chosen and the house which I have built for Your name,then hear from heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.” (see 2 Chronicles chapter 6)
* King Jehoshaphat called the nation of Judah together to pray for God’s help and mercy in time of war — “Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi).’ Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.So Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord. Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord before the new court, and he said, ‘O Lord, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary there for Your name, saying,“Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.” Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them),see how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance.O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.’ All Judah was standing before the Lord, with their infants, their wives and their children.” (see 2 Chronicles 20)
FOX NEWS ANCHOR SHANNON BREAM: Joining us now, New York Times best-selling author Joel Rosenberg. He’s written numerous fiction and non-fiction books, including Israel At War. Among many other things, Joel, you also run a charity in Israel. You served as a consultant to the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. So you have a unique perspective into what’s going on there, and I know that you’ve been very focused on the impact on both sides of this incursion, and how people are being affected there in the area.
ROSENBERG: Absolutely. I did have the privilege of working for Prime Minister Netanyahu back in 2000 — don’t work for him now, therefore, of course, don’t speak for him now in any way. But, yes, I don’t envy the job he has ahead of him right now. As an evangelical Christian, my heart is going out grieving both for the Palestinians who have been lost, and the Israelis. But there is no question that the Israelis are fighting — not the Palestinians — they are fighting Hamas, they are fighting Islamic Jihad. The terrorists have fired more than 1,700 rockets at Israeli civilians. Israel accepted a cease fire from Egypt. Hamas would not. So I think the moral justification is on the Israeli side.
BREAM: Secretary Kerry is heading to that region, he says, within days, trying to work on a cease fire, and a longer term peace deal. Is that possible, in your estimation, knowing all sides here. Is there a temporary lull? Is there any hope for longer term peace?
ROSENBERG: Well, I was in Israel in November 2012, working with The Joshua Fund, providing food and medical supplies and all to Israelis and Palestinians during the last conflict. Israel massed forces on the border with Gaza and then didn’t go in because Hamas stood down. This is obviously not the situation this time. One thing I would encourage the Prime Minister of Israel to do is actually call the nation to prayer & fasting. He is taking all the other right moves — mobilizing forces, calling the nation to patience, grieving with the families that have lost. But like King Solomon, like King Jehoshaphat, Josiah, and Nehemiah, it’s time to call the nation to prayer and fasting so that Israel can win this war against terror, and have peace and calm in the region, at least for a season. And I think all of the great kings and leaders of Israel have done it. It would be time for the Prime Minister to do it, as well.
BREAM: How do you respond to those who say it is religion that has caused these problems, the fact that these two sides will never, potentially, resolve, because there are such deep divisions along religious lines?
ROSENBERG: Well, I think that Radical Islam has certainly caused this. Again, separate this from the Palestinian people at large — who may not love Israel, who may wish they could have all of the territory — but it’s Hamas and the terrorist leaders of Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades that are firing rockets and missiles. It’s really the Palestinian leadership — in terms of the terrorist leadership — that is crushing the hopes and dreams and fortunes of the people in Gaza. Look, they live on the Mediterranean coast. They have natural gas. They were given their freedom from Israel in 2005. There’s no reason not to be able to build a functioning, calm, prosperous society. But you can’t have terrorists leading you. And I think it’s going to take the Israelis turning to the Lord and asking for peace, as well as the military force.
BREAM: And we know it’s always important to make that distinction between the Palestinian people and Hamas. We thank you for your insights today. I know you’re traveling to the area, so we’ll pray safety for you.
UPDATED AT 2:30pm EASTERN, SUNDAY:(Washington, D.C.) — As Hamas broke a humanitarian true it asked for by firing many more rockets at Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the nation of Israel on Sunday evening (8pm local time). He also was interviewed on several U.S. news programs.
ORIGINAL POST: At the moment on Day #13, what I’m hearing from friends in Israel as well as seeing in news coverage is much fiercer fighting, rising casualties on both sides, and a growing sense that Israel is preparing for a much deeper, much longer invasion of Gaza.
Why? To fully identify and destroy the terrorist tunnels under Israel and Gaza, to fully destroy the terrorists’ stockpile of rockets and rocket launchers, to smash Hamas command and control, to arrest or kill terror leaders and operatives, and truly secure the Gaza Strip so as to bring calm and quiet to Israel.
This will likely take weeks to accomplish, at minimum. But it could take months.
No final decision on such a prolonged operation has been publicly communicated as of yet, but signals are coming from top Israeli officials, including dovish Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and hardline Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz.
“Israel’s justice minister said she did not rule out Israel bringing down Hamas if that was what it took to restore security and calm for the people of Israel,” reports the Times of Israel. “Tzipi Livni, the Hatnua party head who is the the most dovish member of Israel’s inner cabinet, was asked in a Channel 2 interview Friday night to confirm that the goal of Israel’s current ground offensive in Gaza is not to destroy Hamas. ‘I’m not taking anything off the table,” she replied. “I’m not going to tell them [Hamas] what the limits [of the operation] are. Among other things, it’s up to them.’ She said Hamas, in rejecting Egyptian ceasefire efforts, and attempting to murder Israeli civilians via ongoing rocket fire and a foiled under-border tunnel infiltration near a kibbutz on Thursday morning, had shown that it ‘lives in a completely different opera.'”
“There is a significant likelihood that the current ground operation will end with Israel retaking full control over Gaza,” Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Saturday, after the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet unanimously approved an expansion of the IDF ground invasion, reports Israel Hayom.
Steinitz, who took part in the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet meeting, explained that the decision was based on the assessment that Hamas was not ready for a cease-fire.
The cabinet decided to operate to root out the terror tunnels that dot the Strip.
The understanding is that the tunnels pose no less of a threat to Israel than the incessant rocket fire coming out of Gaza….
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Saturday that “anyone who tries to disrupt our lives will bring their own demise on themselves. Anyone who engages in terrorism against the state of Israel, we will strike them hard and make them regret their actions.”….
Ya’alon toured the frontlines on Friday, and told IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman that he was “very impressed with the [IDF’s] conduct, professionalism, thoroughness, control and the organized work flow both in the defensive and offensive operations.”
Also Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed the heads of the opposition parties, excluding the Arab parties. On Saturday, Netanyahu spent most of the day in the Kirya Defense Ministry headquarters consulting with security officials. On Friday, Netanyahu and his staff said a prayer for the safety of the soldiers in Gaza.
Please keep praying for calm to be restored sooner rather than later, and for the Lord to comfort the wounded and grieving on both sides, Palestinians and Israelis. Please pray, too, for the IDF soldiers to be able to successfully neutralize the terrorists without any more civilian casualties.