Friday was a potentially game-changing day for Israel. For the first time since 1970, Iranian-made missiles were fired at Jerusalem from terrorists in Gaza. Missiles were also fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv. Air raid sirens were blaring in both cities this evening, rattling residents because of their exceedingly rare nature. As I write this late Friday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Security Cabinet have been meeting for several hours behind closed doors. One decision has been made for certain: Israel is now calling up 75,000 reserve soldiers, not the 30,000 that were just approved on Thursday.
The big question now: Will the Palestinian terrorists’ attacks on Jerusalem, Israel’s political and religious capital — and Tel Aviv, its largest population center and its commercial capital — trigger an IDF ground invasion of Gaza?
Israel is certainly moving rapidly to prepare for such a possibility. Tanks and armored vehicles are being moved into position surrounding Gaza. Roads leading into Israeli towns and villages near Gaza are closed to all but military traffic (and some journalists). We have friends who live in the Israeli town of Sderot who were out of town when the shooting began who now can’t get back to their apartments (not that they really want to return at the moment).
That said, the decision may not be as obvious as one might think. Israel will invade if it absolutely has to. But the more I think about it, the more I’m thinking that Netanyahu doesn’t want to invade. Not because he is weak, but because he is shrewd. He knows three things:
- CASUALTIES — Netanyahu knows that Israeli and Palestinian casualties will mount rapidly if IDF soliders have to fight house to house in Gaza — no one wants that if it can be avoided.
- CHARGE OF OCCUPATION — Netanyahu also knows that Hamas is trying to lure Israel into Gaza. Currently, Hamas officials are saying they are fighting the “occupation.” That’s ludicrous, of course. Israel hasn’t occupied Gaza since it pulled all of its military forces and residents out of the Gaza Strip in 2005. However, if the IDF has to invade, then Hamas will be able to claim that Israel is “occupying” Palestinian land, something Netanyahu would prefer to avoid.
- RISK OF TRIGGERING DECISIVE U.N. VOTE FOR A PALESTINIAN STATE— As I’ve reported in recent days, the Palestinian leadership has asked for and been promised a vote in the U.N. General Assembly on November 29th for the world to declare an official Palestinian state. Before this week’s violent escalation by Hamas, the Palestinians were all-but-assured of a winning vote. Now there is some doubt. Some governments around the world are going to be hesitant to vote to create a Palestinian state when a major portion of Palestinian-controlled territory has fired more than 700 rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians. Netanyahu doesn’t want to take actions that could trigger more sympathy and support for the Palestinian state initiative.
Please continue to pray for Jews and Arabs on both sides of the conflict. The Lord God loves them both. He has a plan for them both. Let’s pray for peace and security. Let’s also pray for wisdom for leaders on both sides and for the Lord to comfort and heal the dozens who are wounded and the millions who are traumatized on both sides. Please pray for the believers here as they continue to love their neighbors and pray for and comfort their neighbors, and continue to preach and teach the Word of God. Please mobilize others to pray. Remember: at its core, this is a spiritual battle. The violence is a physical manifestation of a spiritual war that is going on in the heavenlies. We need you to be interceding for Israel and the Palestinians in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Over the past several years, The Joshua Fund has been privileged to provide funds for the purchase of much needed equipment for a medical center in the south where the rockets have been aimed. This morning we received word that the medical center has been placed on its highest state of emergency due to the rockets being fired from Gaza. Patients are being evacuated to other facilities, all elective procedures have been cancelled, and doctors and nurses are on site to handle the wounded. As of Thursday, the medical center was treating 20 injured patients and preparing for more. As you pray for the Lord to intervene, please also remember the doctors and nurses who are presently dealing with the wounded.
Here are the latest developments:
- “Jerusalem hasn’t been hit with rocket fire since 1970, when two Katyushas were fired from the Palestinian village of Batir,” reports the Times of Israel. “The M-75s (or Fajr-5 missiles, depending on the report) that landed in an open space south of Jerusalem on Friday, in Kfar Etzion, were labeled by Hamas as ‘surprises.’ This is Hezbollah terminology. In Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s hands, the psychological potency of his threats have often been enormous. During the first days of the 2006 Second Lebanon War he, too, promised surprises, and shortly thereafter on July 14 Hezbollah fired a C-802 surface-to-sea missile, striking and nearly sinking an Israeli Navy missile ship. Hamas, however, stripped of most of its long-range weapons and of its supreme commander, appears to be flailing (though not cowed, by any means). The “surprises” landed in open space approximately 8 miles shy of Jerusalem, the very extreme limit of Hamas’s rocket range. The rockets proved that Hamas is willing to fire at a city holy to Islam and at an area where many Muslims live but, as opposed to Hezbollah, it was unable to inflict damage.”
- “Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the IDF’s request on Friday evening to increase the maximum number of reservists it could enlist, seeking cabinet approval to mobilize up to 75,000 troops ahead of a possible Gaza ground operation,” reports the Jerusalem Post. “On Friday morning, as Operation Pillar of Defense continued for a third day, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz issued draft orders to 16,000 out the 30,000 reservists the cabinet approved Thursday. Most of the reservists called up thus far serve in the IDF’s Engineering Corps.”
- 10:31 P.M local time Friday — Head of Hamas’ anti-tank warfare was killed in Israeli air strike; IDF confirms that IAF planes bombed the building of Hamas’ Interior Ministry on Friday morning. (Haaretz)
- 8:50 P.M. — Commander in Hamas’ military wing, Ahmed Abu Jalal, was killed during IDF strike in central Gaza. The IDF says the attack targeted a terror cell that was about to launch rockets toward Israel (Haaretz)
- 8:45 P.M. — U.S. consulate in Jerusalem issues security message for U.S. citizens, urges Americans to “exercise caution and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security in light of the escalating level of violence in Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank” (Haaretz)
- 8:40 P.M. — Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman: “Israel has two goals in the Gaza operation: to rehabilitate our deterrence ability and destroy long-range missiles. Once we attain these goals, we will end the operation.” (Channel 2)
- 8:20 P.M. — Since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, some 520 rockets were fired into Israel, 190 of them on Friday (Haaretz)
- 6:13 PM — “We are sending a short and simple message: There is no security for any Zionist on any single inch of Palestine and we plan more surprises,” AP quotes Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Hamas militant wing, as saying. (Times of Israel)
- Rumors of an Israeli F-16 shot down by Hamas have been aired on Arabic radio here, but the IDF denies it.
- New e-book – Israel At War: Inside The Nuclear Showdown With Iran — now available on Kindle, Nook, other formats (includes sneak preview of material from forthcoming Damascus Countdown novel)
- Please prayerfully consider helping The Joshua Fund care for the poor and needy in Israel, teach the Word of God in the epicenter, educate and mobilize Christians around the world to bless poor and needy Israelis, train pastors and ministry leaders in Egypt, strengthen the believers in Syria, and assist with those being affected by this new war in southern Israel — would you make a generous, tax deductible financial contribution to The Joshua Fund?
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