(Jerusalem, Israel) — Pray it doesn’t happen. Pray that civilians on both sides of the border are spared the horror. But all signs suggest a major new war is about to erupt between Israel and Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza.
It has been exactly four years since the last full-scale war between Israel and the terrorists of the Gaza Strip. In August of 2014 (the month my family and I moved to Israel), some 4,594 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at civilians in the Jewish State by Hamas and its allies. The Israeli military retaliated fiercely, bombarding the Strip with hundreds of strikes on terrorist facilities. IDF ground forces made numerous incursions into the Strip. In the end, Israeli chose not to launch a complete invasion and occupation of the Strip, but many on both sides of the border suffered and great damage was caused during the conflict.
Since then, a shaky truce has persisted. The Egyptian government of President el-Sisi deserves credit for actively working behind the scenes to persuade Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups to stand down.
- In 2015, there were only 21 rocket/mortar attacks from Gaza.
- In 2016, there were only 15 rocket/mortar attacks.
- In 2017, there were 35 attacks.
Yet in 2018, there has been a dramatic escalation:
- May 29th — more than 70 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at Israel.
- June 20th — at least 45 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at Israel.
- July 14 & 15 — more than 200 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at Israel.
- August 8 & 9 — as of noon local time here on August 9th, there have been more than 200 rocket and mortar attacks since the evening of the 8th.
- The Iron Dome has intercepted 30 rockets so far.
- The IDF has attacked 150 terror sites in Gaza.
- Tens of thousands of Israelis have spent most of the night in bomb shelters, and at least 11 Israeli civilians have been wounded, and nine have been treated for shock.
- What’s more, since May there have also been 450 fires in southern Israel caused by terrorists lighting kites and balloons on fire and sending them over the border to destroy forests and farm land.
- Some 7,500 dunams (about 1,800 acres) of Israeli land has been scorched in the relentless attacks, causing millions of dollars in damage.
- In March, “Hamas leaders…called for some 100,000 Gaza Strip residents to engage in six weeks of mass demonstrations along the Israeli border as Jewish families gear up for the Passover holiday.”
- In April, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar vowed that his forces would “breach the borders,” head to Jerusalem, “and pray at Al-Aqsa,” the mosque on the Temple Mount. He added, “We are going to Jerusalem, millions of martyrs.”
- Then Sinwar openly vowed on Al Jazeera Television that the purpose of the protests was to storm into Israel and kill Jewish civilians. “We will take down the border (with Israel) and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies,” he declared.
- Tens of thousands of Palestinians turned out for the protests (though not 100,000), massing close to the security fence. While many of the demonstrators have been peaceful, they have provided cover for dozens of terrorists to repeatedly race to the security fence, try to set off explosives in hopes of creating large gaps through which terrorists could flood into the civilian communities of southern Israel.
- Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar openly declared he wanted to see “hundreds of thousands” of Palestinians storming “through the fence.”
- Thus, the IDF soldiers charged with safeguarding the border have fired upon such attackers, killing and injuring many, 80% of whom have been proven to be known terrorists.
So far, Israeli officials have chosen not to mobilize reservists and launch a full-scale ground and air operation against Gaza. But Hamas and their terror allies are clearly trying to provoke such a war.
Why? That’s anyone’s guess. These evil leaders are determined to rob, kill and destroy. They have trapped — enslaved, really — the people of Gaza in a brutish environment. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Palestinians people of Gaza have priceless beachfront property along the Mediterranean. They have smart, industrious people. They have natural gas reserves right off the coast that foreign petroleum companies are willing to help them develop if there only was peace. Israel, it should be noted, has not occupied the Strip since August 2005. Thus, for the last thirteen years the people of Gaza could have been building a free and thriving and prosperous society. Instead, they find themselves suffering under a wicked tyranny that is engaging in hundreds of war crimes (i.e., shooting at innocent civilians in Israel from schools, hospitals, playgrounds and other civilian centers in Gaza.) Hamas can’t provide enough food or cooking fuel. They only provide a few hours of electricity every day. That means even people with air conditioners suffer in blazing desert heat most days without being use them.
Israel has a right to defend her people. But these terror attacks and this humanitarian disaster cannot go on.
The world needs to focus like a laser on pressuring Hamas to stop attacking Israel, surrender their weapons, and let the Palestinian Authority reassert control and begin to rebuild with Egypt’s help, and the help of wealthy Gulf countries.
The people of Gaza need help. They are people created in the image of God — a God who loves them. They deserve so much better. Let us pray for quiet and calm on the border, to be sure. Let us pray war that war will be averted. But let’s not stop there. Let’s pray for more — for the complete political, economic and spiritual liberation of the Palestinians of Gaza. It cannot come too soon.
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