(Jerusalem, Israel) — The last 48 hours have seen a dramatic surge of violence here in Israel, and horrific atrocities throughout the epicenter. At the moment it is 2:15 in the morning here, the beginning of Day #46.
Here is the latest:
- Hamas and its allies have fired more than 320 rockets at Israel since Tuesday night when it broke its 11th ceasefire agreement.
- This represents one of the largest surges of violence in the past 46 days.
- Why such a ferocious barrage by Hamas? Because the Shin Bet and IDF just scored an enormous intelligence and operational coup — IDF airstrikes killed three very senior Hamas military commanders.
- Hamas’ remaining leaders seem stunned by how Israel could have known where such key men were.
- They are now reportedly arresting and murdering suspected collaborators and trying desperately to figure out how Israel penetrated their most tightly held secrets.
- Is there an Israeli mole inside Hamas? Did Israel intercept Hamas phone calls? How did they do it?
- Israeli officials warn Hamas could become desperate and launch a wave of attacks inside of Israel if they have sleeper cells inside the country.
- Meanwhile, senior Israeli sources are telling us they believe Hamas is down to the last 25% of their rocket arsenal.
- They started with about 9,000 to 10,000 rockets. They have fired about 4,000 so far. The IDF believes it has destroyed another 3,500 or so through airstrikes and its recent ground campaign. That leaves an estimated 2,500 or so.
- On another front, ISIS has beheaded an American journalist, James Foley, after failing to receive the $100 million-plus ransom they were demanding.
- ISIS continues beheading and crucifying Christians and Muslims in Syria and Iraq.
- Increasingly, U.S. officials see ISIS preparing to attack Americans directly in the homeland.
- “ISIS today represents a direct and growing threat to the United States,” reports National Journal. “It has attracted an estimated 12,000 foreign fighters to its black banner flying over Syrian and Iraqi territory, including hundreds of Europeans and Americans who can travel freely with Western passports. It has a bigger sanctuary, far more money, and is more indiscriminately murderous than al-Qaida was on Sept. 10, 2001. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has assured anyone who will listen that he eventually intends to direct his jihad at the United States, telling the U.S. soldiers who released him from prison in 2009, ‘I’ll see you in New York.'”
- Headline in the Washington Times: “Americans brace for new wave of Islamic State terror.”
- “They are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon,” reports Reuters. Asked if the hardline Sunni Muslim organization posed a threat to the United States comparable to that of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Hagel said it was “as sophisticated and well-funded as any group we have seen.”
- The U.S. has launched more than 90 airstrikes against ISIS forces in northern Iraq to keep them from taking over the region known as “Kurdistan,” a key friend of America inside Iraq.
- Meanwhile, the death toll in Syria’s horrific civil war has climbed past 190,000 people.
Amidst this Radical Islamic rampage in the Middle East, I have been deeply encouraged by the fact that some two-dozen American pastors, evangelical leaders, journalists and businessmen chose to spend this week here in Israel. They came to show their deep love and support for Israel and the Jewish people, as well as to speak out against the reign of terror Hamas is imposing on the Palestinians in Gaza, and I am so glad they did.
One delegation was led by former Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, founder of a grassroots action group called Patriot Voices, and a long-time friend of mine. My son, Caleb, and I spent three days with them, meeting with senior Israeli officials to discuss the latest developments, visiting IDF soldiers less than a mile from the border of Gaza, meeting with Israeli civilians who have suffered first hand from Hamas terrorism, receiving a briefing on the miraculous Iron Dome rocket defense system, visiting Biblical sites, reading the Scriptures, and praying for the peace of Jerusalem, as we are commanded in Psalm 122:6. We were scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu at his office on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the PM had to cancel due to a hastily scheduled Security Cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv to determine a response to the sudden surge of violence which began on Tuesday evening. Instead, we met with Dr. Jonathan Schachter, a senior foreign affairs advisor to Mr. Netanyahu, who gave us a briefing on the latest situation and took our questions. Then, on Wednesday evening, we all concluded with a farewell dinner and Caleb and I saw the group off at Ben Gurion International Airport as they prepared to fly home.
The other delegation was led by Dr. Jerry Johnson, executive director of the National Religious Broadcasters. It included Bible teachers and Christian leaders such as Anne Graham Lotz, Kay Arthur, Tony Perkins and Dr. Richard Land, among others. I was humbled and grateful that Dr. Johnson invited me to spend today with his group to do interviews for their various radio and TV programs and brief them on the latest geopolitical and spiritual trend lines in Israel and the region, as well as to hear a fascinating briefing by one of the senior Israeli engineers who invented the Iron Dome system. The group arrived on Monday and flew back to the States tonight.
It is always a wonderful thing when Christian leaders come here and show their love and support to the Israeli people. But it took special courage and commitment to come here during a hot war when rockets are flying. Each member of both delegations experienced the Code Red sirens first hand and had to run to bomb shelters. Yet they refused to become fearful and instead counted it an honor to be with Israelis through this enormous challenge and try to better understand what people here have faced for the past 45 days straight.
During my briefing to the NRB delegation, I shared several points from my recent speech in Iowa. I also shared several new observations based on the fast-moving developments in the epicenter. Let me share just a few for now.
- An evil wind is blowing. From Syria to Iraq to Gaza, we see the jihadists on offense — they’re killing Christians, Jews and moderate Muslims.
- The beheading of American journalist by ISIS an atrocity and a wake up call. The Jihadists aren’t just going after Israel or the Iraqis — they’re coming for us, too.
- We are beginning to reap the harvest of the President’s policy of retreat, weakness, vacillation & golf. Radical Islam is on the move.
- America must not abandon friends like Israel, Jordan & the Kurds. We must bravely stand with them against the forces of darkness & barbarism.
In the meantime, here is the text of the NRB press release that was issued several days before the delegation arrived.:
Leaders of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) leave for Israel this Sunday at the invitation of the Israel Ministry of Tourism.
NRB President and CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson will lead the diverse group of Christian leaders, whose purpose in the trip is to support the people and leadership of Israel and the right of Israel to defend itself as a nation.
Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, is one of many noted evangelical leaders joining the team. “I think it’s important that we show solidarity with Israel, especially with the rising tide of anti-Semitism in the world,” he tells OneNewsNow.
Land says the group will talk with Israeli leaders as well as Palestinians who have been victimized by Hamas.
“They’re using them as human shields,” he says of Palestinians, pointing out there is disagreement between Palestinians in the West Bank and those in Gaza. Many support Israel, he says.
In a statement, Johnson said the trip will “communicate to Israel and to the Palestinians who stand in opposition to Hamas that we, leaders who represent the Christian community, stand with them.”
The NRB “Christians in Solidarity with Israel” trip is August 17 through 22.