This is a report of details of Thursday’s fighting, followed by a brief analysis, and then specific prayer requests.

 

Ø  Hamas long-range Katyusha rocket attacks continue against Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheva.

Ø  The IAF successfully targeted Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders.

Ø  Preparations for a ground operation are complete, but there seems to be hesitation on the part of Israel’s political leadership to move ahead.  

 

Background to the present hostilities

 

The Islamist group Hamas (‘The Islamic Resistance Movement’; for deeper background see newsletters February 2006, June 2007 at www.davidstent.org, under “words”) is linked with the Muslim Brotherhood, a world jihadi group ideologically connected to Osama Bin Laden.  Hamas has fired over 10,000 rockets and mortars against civilian targets in Israel over the past 8 years. Sporadic firing of rockets against Israel continued during a recent temporary “cessation of hostilities”, and that season was used by Hamas to build up forces and weaponry in preparation for the present continued attacks on Israel.

 

Two weeks ago Hamas refused to extend even that partial cease-fire and began intensive rocketing Israeli kibbutzim, towns and cities on the average of 40-50 attacks a day. On Saturday December 27 at 11:30 am Israel Air Force jets attacked Hamas positions, finally responding to years of Hamas rocket attacks.

 

Hamas rockets Negev cities

 

Hamas fired 52 rockets on strictly civilian targets on Thursday, focusing on Israel’s 5th, 6th and 13th biggest cities – Ashdod, Beersheva and Ashkelon. Yesterday our city of Beersheva was hit 8 times by Grad katyushas, while Ashkelon was hit 9 times. There were no Israeli fatalities, and only a handful of people were injured, though many are suffering from shock.

 

Ø  We thank the God of Israel that He is granting an amazing measure of protection to His people (See Leviticus 26:8; 1 Samuel 18:7; Psalm 91:7) and encourage you to pray for the safety and peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jewish people (Psalm 122:6; Romans 10:1).

 

In close to 600 IAF sorties, approximately 450 Arab fatalities and over 2,000 with various injuries to date have been tabulated by Hamas. Possibly up to 25% of these figures are civilian human shields who lived beside or on top of Hamas facilities, ammo dumps and command-and-control (C3) centers.

 

Ø  Pray for the Israeli pilots who need to make split second decisions where many lives could hang in the balance. Pray that God would give them the necessary accuracy, wisdom and discernment. Pray for the salvation of many Gazans (physically and spiritually) during this time of trail.

 

IAF targets top Hamas commanders

 

The IAF targeted top Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists with some measure of success. Five leaders were bombed, including Hasim Drili (Hamas weapons lab in North Gaza), Nabil Amrin (senior Hamas Battalion commander in Sheikh Radwan), Mohammad Baroud (PRC head of all North Gaza rocket cells), Tafik Abu Raf (Hamas weapons lab in central Gaza) and Nizar Rayyan (senior Hamas top echelon commander in Jabalya). In every case, after the IAF bombing a lengthy series of secondary explosions revealed that each home base was being used as an ammunition depot for rockets, mortars and explosives.

 

Due to intense media coverage of the Nizar Rayyan bombing, it would be beneficial to give some background which is germane for all of the above bombings.

 

Sheikh Nizar Rayyan was one of Hamas’ senior leaders and the spiritual leader of Hamas’ military wing Izz ad-Din al Qassam. Married to four wives, he had 12 children. He was considered an authority on Mohammed’s teachings which are found in the Hadith. He was a mufti or issuer of fatwas (religious rulings) supporting suicide bombings. Recently he was intensively advocating for a return to suicide terrorism.

 

On October 3 2001 Rayyan (age 60) sent one of his twelve sons on a suicide attack against the Israeli kibbutz Alei Sinai, where two Israelis were murdered. On march 14 2004 he masterminded a terror attack on Ashdod Port where 10 Israelis were murdered. He remained in personal communication with the kidnappers of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

 

Prior to the IAF bombing, he received a phone call from Israeli Military Intelligence urging all inhabitants to leave the building. In response, some Hamas security personnel went up on the rooftop and indicated that they would not leave. IAF pilots then executed a tactic known as “knocking on the roof” (ed., and not the door – ‘hakesh bagag’ in Hebrew). An air-to-surface rocket with a low explosive charge was fired into one corner of the roof. Immediately the protesters fled the building.

 

After a few minutes a 2,200 pound bomb was dropped on Rayyan’s home, killing him, all four of his wives, most of his children, and two bodyguards. Secondary explosions quickly followed; the building was used as a munitions depot, a communications center and a hub in a network of underground military tunnels.

 

Nearly none of these pertinent facts were communicated by Western media. The focus was on the physical damage and the fatalities. As it is said in Bible study methods, “a text without a context is a pretext”.

 

Other developments

 

Gazan residents of al Nada near the Erez Crossing have been evacuating in fear of a possible IDF incursion, as have most Gazan villages close to potential IDF invasion points.

 

The IAF struck five mosques around Gaza, all of which were being used as command-and-control centers, ammo dumps and terror centers – as secondary explosions of rockets and explosives indicated. Also targeted were five contraband tunnels on the Philadelphi Corridor bordering Egypt, used to smuggle in Katyusha rockets and explosives.

 

All access routes from the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) into Israel have been closed until Saturday night based on security considerations.

 

A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a passing car in the Arab area of Nazareth, Israel, with no injuries. There is a security concern in Israel that some Israeli Arabs amy engage in seditious activities at this time. Pray for the Israeli Arab communities that they would choose to bless and not curse the Jewish people and state (Genesis 12:3; Psalm 120:5-6).

 

The London Times reported that Israeli defense officials believe that Hamas has obtained dozens of long-range Iranian Fajr-3 missiles (240 mm, range 45 km or 30 miles) which might bring the nuclear installation of Dimona within range of Hamas.

 

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri declared that Israel has crossed red lines by targeting Nizar Rayyan (who of course seemed to have not crossed any red lines when he targeted Israeli civilians!) and that painful responses would be forthcoming.

 

Ø  Pray for Gaza‘s leadership – that God would frustrate their plans, operations and strategies (Psalm 83:4, 9-15).

 

Ambivalence regarding a ground invasion?

 

Though the IAF air attacks have been comprehensive, Army Intelligence (AMAN) believes that the military forces of Hamas are still untouched. Hamas is anticipating an Israeli land-based incursion, convinced that they will be able to inflict heavy casualties on the IDF. Roadside IEDs (improvised explosive devices), huge explosives concealed under newly paved roads, anti-tank and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles would certainly await the IDF.

 

On Tuesday Defense Minister Ehud Barak floated a trial balloon suggesting a potential 48 hour cease-fire, supposedly in the name of army, security and diplomatic leaders. This elicited an immediate denial from Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who believes that Hamas’ military capabilities and rocket inventories are mostly untouched. Prime Minister Olmert also disagreed with this balloon. Within 24 hours the trial balloon was punctured, but troubling questions remains. Perhaps because of concern about political fallout in the coming elections (or other unnamed reasons) the Defense Minister has been unwilling to take advantage of Hamas’ weakened state by initiating a military incursion into Gaza. General consensus is that only this type of incursion could sufficiently weaken Hamas’ ability to rebuild and utilize its rocket forces.

 

Ø  We ask you to pray for the military leadership of the IDF regarding the decisions they are making concerning the upcoming ground operation – that God will grant them His strategies, wisdom, courage and discernment, as He did to the prophets and armies of Israel in Elisha’s day (2 Kings 6:8-12).

 

Ø   Pray for the Israeli Special Forces, infantry, tanks and artillery who would be involved in the fighting. Ask God to send angelic warriors to stand with them, to protect them and to grant them victory (Judges 5:20).

 

Ø  Pray especially for the believing soldiers who would be participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen their families with His power and sovereign love.

  

FINAL FRONTIER MINISTRIES  

BOX 121971 NASHVILLE TN  37212-1971 USA

  

written by Avner Boskey  www.davidstent.org

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