What will the Jewish people’s acceptance of Jesus be but life from the dead? Romans 11:15


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

Breaking news of 4 katyusha rockets fired from south Lebanon at Nahariya, Israel at 0730 Thursday morning.


Ø  The IDF destroys booby-trapped tunnels and rocket launchers on the outskirts of Gaza City and Jabalya

Ø  IAF intensively bombs smuggling tunnels in Rafiah beside Egyptian border

Ø  More than 30 Hamas rocket attacks against Negev cities

Ø  IDF holds fire, opens humanitarian aid corridor for 3 hours

Ø  Egyptians, U.S. and French continue to work toward possible cease-fire


Background to the present hostilities


Hamas or ‘The Islamic Resistance Movement’ (for deeper background on Hamas and all archived newsletters on the war see www.davidstent.org, under “words”, newsletters February 2006, June 2007) 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.


On December 19 2008 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 Israel Air Force jets attacked Hamas forces in Gaza, finally responding to years of Hamas rocket attacks. On January 3 2009 a land invasion of Gaza was initiated.


Ground operations


On Wednesday IDF ground operations focused on the destruction of Hamas’ terror infrastructure – weapons caches, rockets and rocket launcher pads – with a specific focus on disarming hundreds of booby-trapped tunnels. The Engineering Corps’ Special Forces Yahalom unit revealed that over the past few days they have neutralized hundreds of IEDs, and booby-trapped houses, tunnels, schools and mosques. IDF’s sixth fatality, Staff-Sergeant Alexander Mashvitsky (21) of Beersheva, a combat engineer in this recon unit, was killed in a face-to-face firefight in the northern part of Gaza City as a Yahalom/Golani unit was on such a neutralizing operation. In another incident, Steel, a K-9 Oketz (Special Forces) dog was able to reveal the presence of two booby-trapped floors and terrorists hiding in a suspicious house before he was killed by Hamas gunmen. The terrorists were then eliminated and the booby-traps were neutralized.


Ø  Pray for the brave soldiers in these units who are risking their lives a hundred times a day, that the Lord of hosts would give them steady hands, cool nerves and total protection as they disarm terror bombs throughout Gaza (Number 10:9).


IDF forces are ready to enter stage three of the operation – deployment throughout the Gaza Strip and what is charmingly called “low-intensity urban conflict” – house-to-house counter-terror operations in Gaza’s major cities. These combat operations are similar to what US and British Special Forces have experienced in Afghanistan and Iraq. A limited number of these operations are already taking place in the Zeitun suburb east of Gaza City.


Ø   Pray for the Israeli Special Forces, infantry, tanks, artillery and engineers who are 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 close to 50 believing Messianic soldiers participating in these battles (Galatians 6:16). Ask God to strengthen them, grant them victory, and strengthen their families with His power, love and confidence.


Air operations


IAF (Israel Air Force) planes have hit more than 1,000 targets in 12 days of operation. On Wednesday 40 targets were eliminated including rocket launchers positioned on house rooftops and between residential homes. This Hamas positioning strategy is meant to increase civilian casualties.


In the 1982 Peace for Galilee Lebanese War against the PLO, I spoke to eye-witnesses who reported the same strategic behavior on the part of the PLO. In the August 2006 war with Hizbollah small arms and heavy machinegun fire, as well as Katyusha rocket fire, were all directed at Israeli troops and civilians from a Viet Cong-like network of residential homes and tunnels. IAF released video footage Wednesday evening of rocket teams firing Qassams from the courtyards of mosques. This is the nature of modern Middle Eastern war.


On Wednesday afternoon, thousand of Arabic leaflets rained down on the Rafiah salient abutting the Egyptian border. The IAF message was brief but clear, “Because Hamas uses your houses to hide and smuggle military weapons, the IDF will attack the area between the Egyptian border and the beach road”. Residents were warned to vacate the area by 8 pm. At 8 pm massive bombing began, destroying many of the 300 Hamas tunnels used to smuggle arms into Gaza from Egypt. Over 30,000 Rafiah residents moved a few kilometers north, out of bombing range.


It must be stressed that Hamas would not today have any military weaponry were it not for the cold fact that Egypt has allowed Hamas to supply and resupply its forces by importing arms into Egypt, and by Egypt turning a not-so-blind eye to the smuggling which is taking place under the fairly astute noses of the Egyptian Army and Intelligence services. The hypocrisy involved in Egypt’s “championing” a ceasefire is quite brazen, since it is Egypt which has helped fan the flames for Hamas.  Nevertheless both President Mubarak’s and King Abdullah II ‘s (Jordan) governments have much to fear from Hamas’s sister organization al-Ikhwan al Muslimin, the Muslim Brotherhood. (Article Two of the Hamas Charter states, “Hamas is one of the wings of the Ikhwan al-Muslimin … the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era”).


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 trial.


Hamas military activities


On Wednesday Hamas fired close to 30 rockets at civilian targets, striking Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheva, and surrounding kibbutzim and farms. Rachel and I were one kilometer away from the impact of one of these Grads at 4:25 pm Wednesday afternoon. We could hear the piercing “crack” followed by a loud boom. This rocket landed in the middle of Beersheva, narrowly missing some significant targets. We were awakened twice last night by air-raid sirens and more booms in the Beersheva area.


Ø  We are so thankful for how God’s angels have pushed rockets and mortars off-course and spared many Israeli lives. Pray that this continues to happen (Hebrews 1:14).


Hamas forces have been attempting to explode IEDs close to IDF forces, and then kidnap the wounded soldiers (or their bodies) into their mazes of underground tunnels.


Ø  Pray that the Lord of the armies of Israel (1 Sam. 17:45) will supernaturally thwart such kidnap attempts and bring to nought all the evil plans of the enemy (Isaiah 8:10).


Humanitarian aid


On Monday a convoy of humanitarian aid was permitted by the IDF to enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. It was fired upon by Hamas gunmen and the trucks were hijacked. In many cases this aid is then redirected only to Hamas personnel, or it is later sold by Hamas on the black market at exorbitant prices. Those who complain are shot. Early this week a 70 year old man was shot to death by Hamas gunmen for refusing to disclose where his son (a Fatah/PA man) was hiding. Western and Arab media in Gaza would be killed by Hamas as well if they publically reported on these events.


The IDF nevertheless opened a humanitarian corridor between 1 pm and 4pm, contingent upon Hamas also holding their fire. For three hours Gazans were able to replenish stocks of food and water, fuel and medical supplies. The humanitarian crisis does not involve lack of food, but inability to open markets due to the war in the streets. Were Hamas to desist from rocketing Israeli civilians, there would be food and not war in the streets. These two events are linked.


Ø  Pray that God will overrule Hamas’ leaders, and establish an uprising for peace in the Palestinian street.


Cease-fire discussions


Egypt and France are working for a possible ceasefire, with the US helping to keep the process alive and somewhat on track. Hamas Deputy Politburo Chief Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk stated on Wednesday that as long as “the occupation continues” there will be no negotiations for a long-term ceasefire. In layman’s terms, Abu Marzouk is stating that Hamas will never desist from trying to destroy Israel. Any ceasefire will only be used to rebuild, re-arm and strategize anew. What has changed in the equation is simply one factor – Israel is no longer willing to live with such suicidal conditions.


Ø   Pray that any cease-fire will be grounded in justice and will prevent Hamas from holding onto terror or power. Pray for your country’s leaders, that they will be a blessing and not a curse to Israel at this moment of crisis (Genesis 12:3).


World responses


Anti-Israel marches and attacks continue throughout the Islamic and Western world. Attacks on Jewish people worldwide are also increasing. It is important to discern this and to pray accordingly.


Whereas in the West, Hitlerian anti-Semitism is still considered in rather poor taste (but not in the Islamic world!), a simple sleight-of-hand – substituting the word “Israel” for the word “the Jews” – and ‘hey presto!’, attacks on the same Jewish people are now simply expressions of “moral outrage” and “humanitarian concern”. Where were these militant heroes of tender conscience for eight years when Hamas rockets were falling on Israel, and when Hamas suicide bombers were shredding the Jewish flesh of mothers and children in the Jewish state?


Ø  Pray that the Holy Spirit, God’s Heavenly Restrainer, will suppress and foil a resurgence of Jew-hatred in our day (2 Thessalonians 2:7; Zechariah 2:8).


A thought to ponder


The Book of Obadiah teaches that the God of Israel weighs and judges the nations based on their heart and actions toward His chosen people Israel. From Babylon to Britain, from Assyria to America, from Persia to the Palestinians, this “divine foreign policy” holds true. The world has basically treated 8 years of Hamas rocket attacks and suicide bombing as no big deal, as a contained Middle Eastern mini- soap opera. Only when Israel finally responded in a restrained and targeted way, did the world react – but amazingly, the majority of the media-fueled reaction is against Israel.


Obadiah’s words should cause us to get down on our faces and intercede for the survival of our own nations as well as for plucky little Israel. Now is not the time for saccharine pseudo-prophetic words about peace, prosperity and self-contentment. Let the body of Messiah wake up from a Persian banquet of wine (Esther 1:8-10) and read the handwriting on the wall of the nations (Daniel 5:4-6). It’s time to pray!


Because of the violence (Hebrew word here is “hamas“) against your brother Jacob,

 you will be covered with shame…

On the day you stood aloof

while … foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem,

 you were like one of them.

You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune,

nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction,

nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.

You should not march through the gates of My people in the day of their disaster,

nor look down on them in their calamity in the day of their disaster,

nor seize their wealth  in the day of their disaster …

The day of YHVH is near for all nations.

As you have done, it will be done to you;

 your deeds will return upon your own head”  (Obadiah 1:10-15)



Breaking news


At 0730 Thursday morning a barrage of 4 Katyusha rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into the Israeli city of Nahariya, striking a retirement home and lightly injuring three, with 14 suffering from shock. Within minutes, IDF artillery struck the sources of that fire, shooting into Lebanon.


This could be an al Qa’eda or Palestinian attempt to open up a second front against Israel, or it could be an initial Hizbollah opening shot in a new Lebanese war. Though UN Resolution 1701 (Israel’s only diplomatic achievement in the 2006 Lebanon operation) prohibits all paramilitary forces from operating south of the Litani River (in south Lebanon), in defiance of this resolution Hizbollah forces have retaken all areas from which they were pushed out by Israel in August 2006. The Lebanese government has been either unwilling or unable to stop this process – not surprising considering that Hizbollah is now a major coalition party in the Lebanese parliament.   


Ø  Pray that God will grant 100% accurate revelation to Israel’s governmental, military and intelligence leaders regarding the source of this fire, and wisdom, discernment and accuracy in their response, as He did to the prophets and armies of Israel in Elisha’s day (2 Kings 6:8-12).