Follow on Twitter @joelcrosenberg

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

ROCKET WAR UPDATE, DAY #9: Invasion of Gaza seems likely. IDF warns 100,000 Gazans to evacuate their homes, mobilizes 8,000 more reservists.

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2014 at 6:54 pm

 

Netanyahu meets with his top advisors to decide next steps in Gaza.Netanyahu meets with his top advisors to decide next steps in Gaza.

Netanyahu meets with his top advisors to decide next steps in Gaza.Netanyahu meets with his top advisors to decide next steps in Gaza.

(Washington, D.C.) — An Israeli military invasion of the Gaza Strip seems increasingly likely, and imminent.

  • Hamas formally rejected the Egyptian cease-fire proposal.
  • Netanyahu and Egyptian President Sisi have been secretly speaking and coordinating, but so far Hamas is defiantly fighting on.
  • Abbas is also actively engaged in the behind-the-scenes discussions, offering to put Palestinian Authority security forces on the Gaza-Egyptian border to prevent weapons smuggling if a cease-fire is established.
  • Israeli generals are coming to the reluctant conclusion that air strikes alone may not be enough to restore calm.
  • The IDF is warning 100,000 Gazans to evacuate their homes immediately, presumably because more devastating air strikes — and ground operations — will commence shortly.
  • The IDF is calling up 8,000 more reservists to add to the 40,000 soldiers already positioned close to Gaza.
  • Israeli special forces units are already reportedly operating inside of Gaza.
  • Israel suffered its first war-time casualty on Tuesday, as a 37 year old man was killed by a direct mortar attack while bringing food to Israeli soldiers near the border.

Clearly, we need to keep praying for calm to be restored soon. After all, so much pain and so much damage has been caused by this latest rocket war so far.

Here’s the latest on possible invasion developments:

  • “A senior Israeli military official said Wednesday the likelihood of a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip was ‘very high,’ and that ‘if you want to efficiently fight terrorism you must be present, boots on the ground,'” reports the New York Times.
  • “The official, who has been briefing Israeli ministers who make strategic decisions, said his assessment was based on ‘the signals I get’ and the diminishing returns of aerial bombardment after nine days,” noted the Times. “He said an Israeli takeover of Gaza is ‘not a huge challenge,’ estimating it would take ‘a matter of days or weeks,’ but that preventing a more dangerous devolution in the coastal enclave would require an occupation ‘of many months.'”
  • “Every day that passes makes the possibility more evident,” the official told a handful of international journalists in a briefing at the military’s Tel Aviv headquarters. “We can hurt them very hard from the air but not get rid of them.”….
  • “The stark assessment came as Israel bombed 60 targets, most of them in northern Gaza, after warning 100,000 residents to evacuate their homes by 8 a.m. via leaflets, text messages, and automated telephone calls,” the Times added. “The Palestinian death toll reached at least 205 by late afternoon, including four children killed in a strike on the seashore. The lone Israeli casualty, a 37-year-old man killed by a mortar round as he distributed food to soldiers Tuesday night near the Erez crossing, was eulogized by Israel’s president-elect, Reuven Rivlin, at an afternoon funeral.”

Here’s The Big Picture to date:

  • Over 1261 rocket have been launched at Israel, reports the IDF blog.
  • 984 of those rockets hit Israel
  • Approximately 228 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
  • The IDF has targeted over 1,752 terror targets, with both naval and aerial capabilities.

Wednesday, July 16 — Day #9:

  • As of 2pm eastern (9pm Israel time), Hamas has fired 61 rockets today.
  • 37 of them hit Israel.
  • 23 were intercepted by Iron Dome.

Tuesday, July 15 — Day #8:

  • More than 155 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel.
  • At least 122 rockets struck Israel.
  • 26 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
  • The IDF hit 96 terror targets in the Gaza Strip.

Monday, July 14 — Day #7:

  • More than 115 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel.
  • At least 92 rockets struck Israel.
  • 15 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
  • The IDF hit 163 terror targets in the Gaza Strip.

Sunday, July 13 — Day #6:

  • More than 130 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel.
  • At least 102 rockets struck Israel.
  • 22 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

——————–

>> I will speak in August at events in Denver, Colorado and Ames, Iowa on the latest developments in Israel and the Middle East — please register so you can join us.

Podcast: 1-hour radio show I did on the Hamas-Israel rocket war from a geopolitical & Biblical perspective.

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2014 at 3:01 pm

podcast(Washington, D.C.) — What are the latest developments in the rocket war between Hamas and Israel from a geopolitical perspective? What about from a Biblical perspective? Here are podcasts from three radio shows I’ve done in recent days on the crisis. Hope you find them helpful, and please feel free to share them with others.

For other podcasts I’ve done, please click here.

I’ll speak on latest events in Israel & Mideast in Denver & Ames, Iowa in August. Please register to attend.

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 10:17 pm

MinistryArchitecture-logoFamilyLeader-graphicWith 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.

AUGUST 7th IN DENVER, COLORADO — MINISTRY ARCHITECTURE EVENT

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!

AUGUST 9th IN AMES, IOWA — THE FAMILY LEADERSHIP SUMMIT

On Saturday, August 9th, I’ll be speaking in Ames, Iowa.

The occasion will be the 3rd Annual Family Leadership Summit in Iowa in August.

I will also be addressing trends in the U.S., Israel and the Middle East from a Biblical perspective.

Two years ago, I spoke at the first Summit on the non-fiction book I had just released that summer, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time? For more about what I said then, please click here.

Please register today and make plans to join us.

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.”

——————–

ROCKET WAR UPDATE: Israel accepts ceasefire plan, but Hamas rejects it. Here’s the latest.

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Middle-East-Satellite-View

(Washington, D.C.) — Early this morning, the Israeli security cabinet voted to accept Egypt’s cease fire proposal.

Hamas leaders, however, promptly rejected the proposal as a “joke.”  Instead, they fired a barrage of 47 rockets at Israel just as the Israelis stopped their combat operations.

Senior Israeli government sources say Hamas’ rejection clears the way for Israel to launch new attacks against the terrorists in Gaza. They also say it provides broad international legitimacy for Israel’s defensive efforts because Israel is being seen by world leaders as reasonable while Hamas is clearly the aggressor.

Netanyahu has ordered Israeli air strikes to recommence. Now the question is whether he and his security cabinet will decide a major ground operation is necessary and wise.

Clearly, we need to keep praying for calm to be restored soon. After all, so much pain and so much damage has been caused by this latest rocket war so far.

Here’s the big picture so far, according to the IDF blog:

  • Over 1081 rocket have been launched at Israel.
  • 845 of those rockets hit Israel
  • Approximately 191 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
  • The IDF has targeted over 1,576 terror targets, with both naval and aerial capabilities.

 

Here’s a summary of what happened on Monday, according to the IDF blog:

  • More than 115 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel.
  • At least 92 rockets struck Israel.
  • 15 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
  • The IDF hit 163 terror targets in the Gaza Strip.

——————–

ROCKET WAR UPDATE: Egypt proposes cease-fire plan that could begin Tuesday. Neither side has accepted it yet. Developing….Plus, how effective has Israel’s air campaign been? Contradictory assessments.

In Uncategorized on July 14, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Israel-tanks2>> “Red Alert” app notifies you every time rocket is fired at Israel so you can pray — learn more and/or download it here.

UPDATED AT 7pm EASTERN TIME, MONDAY: (Washington, D.C.) — Egypt has proposed a cease-fire between Israeli and Palestinian militant forces in Gaza which, if accepted by both sides, would go into effect on Tuesday morning at 9am local time.

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Netanyahu is inclined to recommend acceptance of Egyptian proposal to his security cabinet early Tuesday morning.

However, CNN is reporting that a Hamas spokesman has described the Egyptian ceasefire proposal as a “joke.”

At this point, it’s impossible to say whether either side is ready to stop. A lot could happen overnight that could change the dynamic one way or the other.

That said, according to Egyptian Foreign Ministry sources cited by Haaretz, these are the proposed terms:

  • The cease-fire will start at 9 A.M., meaning Israel will stop aerial, naval and ground operations against the Gaza Strip and promise not to engage in a ground offensive or harm civilians.
  • At the same time, all the Palestinian factions will hold their fire.
  • Crossings between Gaza and Israel will be reopened, and restrictions on the passage of commodities and people will be eased, in return for a halt to hostilities.
  • Within 48 hours after the cease-fire, Israeli and Palestinian delegations will arrive in Cairo for continued indirect talks to discuss the details of the truce and its implementation. Egypt will receive guaranties from both sides, and promises to implement the outline.

At the same time, Netanyahu and his war council are making final preparations to authorize a major ground operation in Gaza. The Prime Minister has not made a final decision, but some top military and political advisors are telling him a cease fire would be unwise. They argue Israel needs to move into Gaza, capture scores of terrorists, locate and destroy stockpiles of rockets, and make sure another rocket war cannot happen for a long time to come.

One big question right now: How effective has Israel’s air campaign been in Gaza to date? The Israeli media is filled with contradictory assessments.

The Jerusalem Post is citing sources that Israel’s air war has been incredibly effective at degrading the terrorists’ capacity to wage the rocket war. “The IDF has destroyed around a third of Hamas’s rocket arsenal, half of its rocket production facilities, as well as a large portion of homes used as command and control centers by Hamas brigade and battalion commanders,” reports the Post. “Hundreds of storage facilities hidden underground have also been destroyed. While the IDF’s firepower has been highly effective, Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s firepower has been rendered nearly totally ineffective due the Iron Dome air defense system.”

The Times of Israel, however, is citing sources that indicate Israel’s air campaign has not been terribly effective. “Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, nearly a week old, has been hobbled by insufficient intelligence, an unwillingness to inflict mass harm on Gaza’s civilian population, and Hamas advancements based on takeaways from the last major armed conflict in 2012, according to current and former officials,” reports the Times.

“They still have almost 90 percent of their rockets,” said Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Times adds: “Amidror, who believes that an invasion of Gaza would prove useful in the long term — sparing lives on both sides — said that Israel has not hit Hamas rocket stores, rocket development capacity, and senior personnel for two reasons: a lack of detailed intelligence; and an understanding that, based on the location of the arms and personnel, ‘the collateral damage would be enormous.’….Hamas, aware of Israel’s Achilles’ heel, he continued, placed much of its rocket stores under tall, civilian buildings. ‘Even if we ordered all of the residents out of the buildings,’ he explained, ‘the collateral damage would be massive.’ The secondary explosions, in the middle of a dense urban area, would kill many innocent civilians.”

Please keep praying for an effective end to the conflict soon. Let’s be praying especially for those Palestinian families in Gaza who have been traumatized by this rocket war, and are caught in the crossfire. “Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have so far left 184 people dead and 1,287 wounded in seven days, according to Palestinian emergency rescue services,” reports the Times of Israel. “The death toll now exceeds that of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.”

Developing…..

——————–

 

ROCKET WAR UPDATE, Day #6 & 7: Thank God for “Iron Dome.” How does Israel’s anti-rocket defense system work?

In Uncategorized on July 14, 2014 at 12:21 pm

irondome(Washington, D.C.) — In just the past week alone, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired over 1,ooo rockets at Israeli civilians. In recent days, rockets have been fired at Israel from Lebanon and Syria, too. While there have been some injuries, not a single Israeli has been killed by these attacks so far. How is this possible?

Thank God for the “Iron Dome.” So far, Israel’s seemingly-miraculous anti-rocket defense system has:

  • shot down more than 200 rockets, successfully destroying 90% of the targets it’s been fired at
  • saved countless Israeli lives in the process.
  • bought time for Israeli leaders not to have to invade Gaza precipitously, but to be able to gather more and better intelligence on the enemy, mobilize the army, train for a possible invasion, move to the Gaza border, and prepare for a major ground operation in a disciplined, patient, prudent way — and on the timetable of Israel’s civilian leaders, not that of the terrorists.
  • given Israeli citizens comfort and encouragement that despite this terrorist onslaught, their government is working hard — and effectively — to protect their lives.
  • allowed the world to see the evil of these Palestinian terrorists who just keep shooting at innocent Israeli civilians with absolutely no prospect of military victory over Israel.

To be clear, the Iron Dome system is not fired at every single incoming Palestinian rocket. It is only activated when the IDF’s super-fast computers calculate the incoming rocket would hit a home, office, factory, or other occupied building or populated place. If the enemy rocket is determined to likely hit just a field or park or fall into the sea or hit some other “harmless” location, the Iron Dome doesn’t fire. Among other things, this ingenious approach saves Israel a lot of money. Each Iron Dome rocket costs an estimated $50,000.

The eighth Iron Dome battery just went operational. More are being built as quickly as possible.

The Israelis developed this unique technology of shooting down a rocket with a smaller, faster rocket with the help of U.S. taxpayer funding. Here are some recent articles, if you’d like to learn more:

Let’s thank the Lord for those who built and those who run the Iron Dome system. Let’s keep praying an invasion won’t be needed. Let’s pray all this conflict will end very soon, and keep praying for the Lord to show mercy to Israelis and Palestinians on both sides. Thanks.

—————————————

THE BIG PICTURE

Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, according to the IDF blog:

  • over 1,000 rocket have been launched at Israel. 
  • 754 of those rockets hit Israel
  • approximately 201 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. 
  • The IDF has targeted over 1,474 terror targets, with both naval and aerial capabilities.

Monday, July 14 — Day #7

1:00 PM: A boy was lightly wounded from shrapnel after a rocket fired from Gaza struck Ashdod.

11:15 AM: The Iron Dome shot down a Gaza rocket above Ashkelon.

1:22 AM: A short while ago, several rockets were fired from Lebanon at Israel. One hit an open area. IDF immediately responded towards the source with artillery fire. UNIFIL has been notified of the severity of the incident.

12:32 AM: Rocket sirens sounded in northern Israel.

12:26 AM: Iron Dome just intercepted seven rockets above Ashkelon.

Sunday, July 13 — Day #6

  • More than 130 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel.
  • At least 102 rockets struck Israel.
  • 22 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

——————–

ROCKET WAR UPDATE, Day #5 & 6: What is Hamas trying to accomplish? Will Netanyahu order an invasion?

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2014 at 1:44 pm
IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz (left), PM Netanyahu (center), and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (right) are assessing what Hamas is trying to accomplish, and whether an IDF invasion of Gaza is the only way forward.

IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz (left), PM Netanyahu (center), and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (right) are assessing what Hamas is trying to accomplish, and whether an IDF invasion of Gaza is the only way forward.

(Washington, D.C.) — Why did Hamas start firing rockets at Israeli civilians in mid-June, and why have they intensified their attacks in July? What are their goals? What are they trying to accomplish? And would an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza be effective in restoring calm and degrading Hamas’ capabilities, or make matters worse?

These are critical questions the Netanyahu war council is asking at this moment.

A few thoughts:

Hamas has been severely weakened in recent years.

  • The leaders of Hamas have done a terrible of running the government in Gaza.
  • They’re not providing efficient and effective services for the Palestinian people, creating jobs and economic growth, or building a healthy, well-functioning society.
  • They’ve been deeply affected by the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the rise to power of Egyptian general Al-Sisi — the Egyptian military hates Hamas and thus has been fighting terrorist groups in the Sinai, destroying smuggling tunnels between the Sinai desert and Gaza, intercepting shipments of Syrian and Iranian missiles and arms headed for Gaza, and slowly strangling Hamas.
  • Hamas’ tactics of attacking Israeli civilians year after year after year has caused most of its Arab allies around the region to grow weary or even opposed to the terror group.
  • They still have the backing of Iran and Turkey, but overall external funding for Hamas has been drying up.
  • And the Israelis have been doing a better job intercepting arms shipments to Hamas, and isolating the group internationally.

Hamas’ first plan to reassert itself was to create a “unity” government with Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

  • Hamas agreed to the deal with Abbas and his Fatah party earlier this year, shortly after peace talks broke down between Abbas and Netanyahu.
  • The goal of Hamas leaders — most of whom live in Gaza and have had very little access to the West Bank — was to gain new legitimacy in the West Bank and allow their allies to come “above ground” so that they could eventually gain popular support there and overthrow Abbas and seize power for themselves, just like they did in Gaza in 2006 and 2007.
  • Abbas tried to paint the deal as evidence of Hamas becoming more reasonable — he said this new unity government would reject violence, and that the deal was evidence that the Palestinian Authority could unify differing factions in the West Bank and Gaza and be ready for statehood.
  • But many of Hamas’ radical members bristled at the thought of a deal with Abbas — they said they were still committed to jihad and to annihilating Israel, not creating a two-state solution.

Now Hamas leaders have reversed course — they decided they looked weak by making a deal with Abbas and chose to rebrand themselves as true jihadists.

  • It’s hard for Hamas to recruit violent, angry young men to the cause if they aren’t showing active armed resistance to Israel.
  • Hamas leaders see the success violence jihadists like ISIS are having in Iraq and Syria and don’t want to be left in the dust.
  • So much of this rocket war is an internal re-branding effort to look tough and recruit new members and divert the attention of the Palestinian people of Gaza from how poorly Hamas is running basic services in the Gaza Strip — better to get people unified by focusing on their enemy Israel.

Hamas leaders know they cannot defeat Israel militarily, but they believe they can defeat Israel in the court of global public opinion.

  • By firing rockets at Israel, Hamas gets Israel to shoot back.
  • By using Palestinian civilians as human shields, Hamas increases the chance that Palestinian civilians — especially women and children — will be killed by Israeli forces.
  • The more Palestinian civilians who die, the better for Hamas leader, because by getting Israel to kill a growing number of Palestinians Hamas believes Israel will seem more and more like the evil aggressors and international public opinion will turn harshly against Israel.

The big question for Israeli leaders now is how to stop Hamas from firing rockets without getting sucked into the Hamas trap and appearing as the “bad guy” on the international stage.

This, in large part, is why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war council are being so cautious about a massive ground invasion of Gaza. Yes, Netanyahu knows it may take IDF ground forces to capture Hamas terror leaders and operatives, find all or most of the rocket launches and stockpiles of rockets and other arms, and bring a final end to these relentless rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. However, if he can use air power to accomplish many or most of his goals, Netanyahu would far prefer this. He doesn’t want to get sucked into a war in Gaza on Hamas’ terms.

I’m not saying he won’t order a large ground operation, possibly soon. I’m just pointing out that while many Israeli political leaders and commentators are urging him to move harder and more decisively into Gaza, Netanyahu is trying to carefully gauge how much can be accomplished from the air. Remember, he was an IDF special forces commando. He knows the IDF’s capabilities and the difference between air power and “boots on the ground.” But remember that he also lost his older brother, Yonatan, in a special forces operation in Entebbe, Uganda. He knows the grief families suffer when a soldier falls in the line of duty, even when the mission is essential. He is trying to decide at this moment if a ground operation is essential.

Here’s some of the latest reporting from Israel on the internal debate under way inside the Netanyahu war room.

“As rocket fire from Gaza almost completely stopped for several hours Saturday morning, the IDF completed preparations for an initial ground incursion into the Strip and now only waits for orders from the prime minister and defense minister,” reports Ynet News. “It’s been revealed to Ynet that even amid the fight between senior government officials there is almost complete consensus that a ground operation in Gaza is necessary in order to deal a devastating blow to the infrastructure of terror – a blow that will have long term affects.”

“However, Major General Amir Eshel, commander of the IAF, is trying to convince the Chief of Staff and Defense Minister that the Air Force can accomplish the same goals itself, destroying Hamas’ rocket manufacturing capabilities and striking smuggling tunnels used by terror cells,” the Israeli news service adds. “The Air Force commander claims that the methods of attack, quality intelligence, the ability to hit multiple targets in a short amount of time and precision guided weapons, can be effective no less that a large scale ground offensive which is bound to involve heavy losses and many errors.” 

“Eshel’s opinion has been at least partially adopted and the prime minister, defense minister and chief of staff are giving the IAF free reign to act according to the strategy that he has presented,” notes Ynet. “Along those lines the IDF continued the full pace of attacks on Friday night and Saturday morning and even increased the attack on the houses of Islamic Jihad and Hamas commanders all over the Gaza Strip.”

Let’s keep praying an invasion won’t be needed. Let’s pray all this will end very soon, and let’s pray for the Lord to show mercy to Israelis and Palestinians on both sides. Thanks.

The Big Picture:

Since the start of the operation, according to the IDF blog.

  • over 809 rocket have been launched at Israel. 
  • 635 of those rockets hit Israel
  • approximately 145 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. 
  • The IDF has targeted over 1320 terror targets, with both naval and aerial capabilities.

Saturday, July 12 — Day #5

Summary of the day, according to the IDF blog:

  • More than 129 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel.
  • At least 117 rockets struck Israel.
  • 9 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
  • The IDF hit 120 terror targets in the Gaza Strip.

——————–

ROCKET WAR UPDATE, DAY #4. Also, Why won’t Abbas order his security forces to stop the rocket fire, or even publicly condemn the attacks on Israel?

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2014 at 10:06 pm
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

(Washington, D.C.) — I’m sorry to report there is no evidence the rocket war is letting up. To the contrary, the rockets are still flying, and Israel is clearly preparing to invade Gaza. So please keep praying for things to calm down, and praying for the Lord to comfort and protect Israelis and Palestinians.

Here are the latest developments:

  • On Friday, 140 rockets were fired at Israel, 27 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome.
  • Since the beginning of “Operation Protective Edge,” at least 680 rockets and missiles have been fired from Gaza at Israel.
  • 520 have hit Israel
  • 140 were intercepted by the Iron Dome system.
  • The IDF has struck approximately 1,002 terrorist targets in Gaza

Early Friday morning, Israel was also hit by three rockets fired from Lebanon. To its credit, the Lebanese Army later captured a terrorist who was preparing to launch two more rockets at Israel.

Geopolitically, the biggest development of the day was what didn’t happen. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas still hasn’t publicly, clearly, and convincingly condemned the rocket fire by Hamas, Islamic Jihad or his own Fatah faction. Nor has he ordered Palestinian security forces to stop the terrorists from firing these rockets at Israel.

Why not?

In June, Abbas did publicly condemn the firing of just a few rockets from Gaza at Israel. Why is he now refusing to condemn or stop the firing of more than 680 rockets at Israel in July? I grieve for the Palestinians in Gaza who are suffering so much. But this suffering is being brought about by terrorists who have hijacked the Gaza Strip to use it as one massive rocket launcher against Israel. And the Palestinian government refuses to do anything about it.

Meanwhile, Abbas is calling Israel’s actions an act of “genocide.” Why? He certainly wants to identify with the suffering of those who have been killed and their families. That’s understandable. But to charge Israel with genocide is so over the top one wonders why Abbas is reaching so far. At this point, approximately 100 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed so far. Now, to be clear, many of those were terrorists. Some were civilians. That is true. But many of these were civilians who refused to leave buildings used by terrorists that the Israelis were about to strike, despite warnings by the IDF (via text messages and phone calls) to leave immediately or risk being fired upon.

Every death of an innocent person is tragic, and my heart breaks for those who have lost loved ones, whether they were innocent or guilty. But let’s be fair — this is not genocide. This is not a systematic effort to exterminate the Palestinian people. And Israel has vowed to stop attacking Hamas as soon as Hamas and the other terror groups stop firing at Israeli civilians. As the New York Times reported yesterday, Israel is going to extraordinary lengths to prevent civilian casualties. Meanwhile, the terrorists are purposefully firing rocket at innocent civilians in order specifically to cause civilian casualties.

“The most striking aspect of ongoing Arab reactions to the latest Hamas-Israeli clashes is an act of omission: the Palestinian Authority (PA) and President Mahmoud Abbas are not calling for Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israeli cities,” notes David Pollack of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “This contradicts Abbas’s recent declarations that the new PA government and its Hamas backers would honor past PA commitments regarding nonviolence against Israel. A new statement from Abbas’s office claims that “the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves by all legitimate means” against ‘Israeli escalation.’ In today’s latest twist, Abbas and the PA are not just calling for Israel to stop its airstrikes against Hamas targets inside Gaza. According to several plausible press reports, they are also threatening to haul Israel before the International Criminal Court for the ‘war crime’ or ‘genocide’ of responding to Hamas rocket attacks. PA messaging, moreover, makes no effort to distinguish between the Hamas ‘political leadership’ — which signed the reconciliation agreement with the PA’s ruling Fatah Party and may have attempted to restrain the initial rocket salvos — and the Hamas ‘military wing,’ which some PA officials privately blame for trying to torpedo reconciliation by firing indiscriminately at Israel.”

I don’t pretend to understand completely the motives of Abbas and his government. And I’m not saying Netanyahu and his government are saints and doing everything right. But I am praying for all of them anyway. I am praying the Lord bless and show mercy to the Palestinian people, as well as to the Israelis. I am praying the Lord draws people on both sides to Himself, and I’m praying for pastors and Christian leaders on both sides to be strong and brave and to have wisdom to know how to bless their people with Christ’s mercy and unconditional love.

Here is the latest  minute-by-minute update on the war for Friday and Thursday, according to the IDF blog:

Friday, July 11

9:58 PM: Four rockets were fired from Gaza to Beer Sheva. One hit a house, injuring a woman. Two were intercepted by the Iron Dome, and one hit an open area

9:23 PM: A short while ago, the Israel Air Force targeted the rocket launcher in Gaza that fired at central Israel about two and a half hours ago.

9:20 PM: A few minutes ago, the Iron Dome intercepted two rockets over Beer Sheva and one rocket over the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

8:56 PM: Moments ago, two rockets were intercepted over the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

7:16 PM: Initial report: An anti-tank missile fired from northern Gaza lightly wounded two IDF soldiers patrolling the security fence.

6:43 PM: The Iron Dome intercepted one rocket over the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

4:55 PM: Over 70 rockets were fired at Israel since midnight, out of which 53 hit Israel and 18 were intercepted.

4:02 PM: Two rockets fired from Gaza struck Beer Sheva

2:00 PM: IDF Chief of Staff: Terrorists in Gaza made a grave mistake by attacking the people of Israel. They are bringing disaster upon themselves.

8:00 AM: A rocket fired from Lebanon hit an open area near Metula a short time ago. In response, IDF forces opened fire at the source of rocket fire

3:28 AM: Rocket sirens sounded in the Haifa area, located more than 140 km (87 miles) from the Gaza Strip.

Thursday, July 10 

Updated summary of the day:

  • More than 192 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel.
  • At least 141 rockets hit Israel.
  • 44 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
  • The IDF struck 210 terror targets in the Gaza Strip

——————–

Here’s our new Joshua Fund video update on the rocket war in the epicenter. Please share with others.

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2014 at 4:51 pm
Watch the latest video update at www.joshuafund.com.

Watch the latest video update at http://www.joshuafund.com.

(Washington, D.C.) — The Joshua Fund is working to educate Christians around the world as to what is happening in the epicenter amidst this latest rocket war, and trying to mobilize believers to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” as the Bible commands.

With your prayers and generous financial support, The Joshua Fund team in Israel is also providing food and other humanitarian relief to the poor and needy — both Jews and Arabs — and doing our best to bless and care for those who are living in the rocket zone.

Here’s the most recent video I did for TJF, explaining the latest developments and sharing some prayer requests. It runs a little over six minutes.

Please watch it by clicking here — please also share it with others to encourage them to pray and get involved in this important work.

Thanks so much and may God bless you and your family as you bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.

——————–

 

Growing evidence Israel is preparing for massive ground operation in Gaza. Here’s the latest.

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2014 at 1:46 pm
Israeli tanks heading towards Gaza.

Israeli tanks heading towards Gaza.

UPDATED: (Washington, D.C.) — On Day Four of “Operation Protective Edge,” there are growing calls by Israeli security experts, political leaders and commentators for a massive ground operation inside Gaza to arrest thousands of terrorists, capture weapons and ammunition, and bring the rocket fire to an end.

Let us pray this isn’t necessary. There enormous risks and downsides for both sides on so many levels. But it’s important to understand this is being actively discussed.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Cabinet have made no decision to do so thus far.

But clearly preparations are being made. The IDF has called up 40,000 reservists. Tanks and other mechanized units are moving towards the border of Gaza. Palestinians living near Gaza’s border with Israel are being told by Israel to leave the area at once.

This could be a bluff, a way to convince Hamas and Islamic Jihad to stand down or risk being overwhelmed by Israeli forces. In November 2012, I was in Israel when another rocket war occurred. Netanyahu deployed IDF forces to Gaza’s border and threatened invasion, and Hamas backed down and stopped firing rockets.

However, this is the third major round in the rocket wars in the last five years. There was 2009’s “Operation Cast Lead,” and 2012’s “Operation Pillar of Defense.”

Now there is a growing sense in the Israeli military and political establishment that air power alone won’t be enough, and that ground operations may be the only way to truly quiet things down for the long haul.

For example:

  • Avi Dichter, the former internal security and homefront defense minister‎, Shin Bet security agency director, and Knesset member, today argued that the time has come for a “strategic campaign” against Hamas that will likely last a year or two. “Without destroying the terrorists’ military infrastructure in Gaza we will continue living from one round of shooting to the next, as the time in between rounds decreases and the range of the rockets increases,” writes Dichter. “They have already dragged half of our population into a war of attrition. Our airstrikes are approaching the point of decreasing effectiveness, when they will no longer stop or reduce the amount of shooting at Israel. Hamas terrorists and their leaders are acting according to their capabilities, not according to our logic. The time is ripe to switch from tactical operations (Pillar of Defense, Cast Lead, Protective Edge) to a strategic campaign which will dramatically diminish the terrorists’ ability to hurt us. This campaign is not something that should last for just a month or two — rather a year or two. There is absolutely no reason to abandon the Israeli public to more years of living under fire. We defeated suicide terrorism and we will be able to eradicate rocket terrorism. Arresting thousands of terrorists in Gaza and continuing the airstrikes will produce the intelligence required to reformat terrorism in Gaza. This is what our civilian and military leaders need to do.”
  • Maj. Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, a former IDF deputy chief of general staff and former head of the National Security Council, writes: “Is it possible to defeat a terrorist group? Can these objectives be achieved using military force? The answer to both questions is yes. A terrorist group with a territorial base can be deterred by threatening its hold on that base. The destruction of Hamas governing infrastructure and the targeted killing or expulsion of Hamas leaders are attainable goals. Will this require a ground operation? Will such an operation involve the loss of troops? Yes and yes. Every military commander knows the challenge is to fulfill the mission and protect soldiers, in that order. Our sensitivity regarding the lives of soldiers is an asset, but when it becomes the main consideration, this undermines the main mission of the IDF — providing security to the citizens of Israel.”

Please keep praying for calm, for the Lord to protect Israelis and Palestinians on both sides, and for the Lord to draw people in the epicenter to Himself. Please pray, too, that a ground operation won’t be needed and that the fighting will stop soon.

In the meantime, I’ll do my best to keep you posted on the latest developments on this blog, and on Twitter.

——————–

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38,427 other followers