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


Ø  The IDF fights Hamas gunmen in central and northern Gaza (three fatalities)

Ø  IAF continues to bombs smuggling tunnels, weapons warehouses and rocket launchers

Ø  More than 30 Hamas rocket attacks against Negev cities

Ø  Unidentified group fires 4 Katyushas into Israel from Lebanon

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

Ø  UN passes Resolution 1860 calling for cease-fire; rejected by Hamas


Background to the present hostilities


Hamas or ‘The Islamic Resistance Movement’ (for deeper background on Hamas and all archived newsletters on the war see, 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.


Selcted quotes from Hamas’ Charter (1988)


As we pray over the war between Israel and Hamas, it is important to remember how Hamas understands the nature of that conflict. Here are six representative quotes from the Hamas Charter which throw some light on the spiritual nature of the conflict.


  • “The Platform of The Islamic Resistance Movement (ed., acronym for ‘Hamas’): Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it” (Introduction)


  • “The Islamic Resistance Movement…strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine. (Article #6)


  • “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief” (Article #8 – ed. this is also the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood)


  • “In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad … We must imprint on the minds of generations of Muslims that the Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise. ‘I swear by that who holds in His Hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill'”. (Article #15)


  • “The Arab states surrounding Israel are required to open their borders to the Jihad fighters … The other Arab and Islamic states are required, at the very least, to facilitate the movement of the Jihad fighters from and to them … Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims. (Article #28)


  • “(Peace) initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement … Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the nonbelievers as arbitrators in the lands of Islam … There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility. (Article #13)  


The spirit which motivates Hamas is similar in nature to the one which controlled Adolf Hitler. As with Hitler, negotiations were only an obfuscating delaying tactic which led to further evil empowerment and conquest. Hamas is at least clearer and more transparent than Hitler about its goals and strategies – Jihad is the means, and the destruction of Israel is the goal. However, today the world’s moral vision is perilously close to being blinder than it was in Hitler’s day (Luke 6:39; John 9:39).


Reconciliation was not possible with Hitler, though a few misguided or deceived believers thought so at the time. In our day, any call for true reconciliation between Arab and Jew can only be realistically actualized after the power of jihadi Islam is broken in Arab hearts and lives. This is not the only step, of course, but it is a sine qua non.


Ø  Pray for the defeat of Hamas, its leadership and its ideological hold over many Gazans.


Ground operations


On Thursday IDF ground operations focused on the destruction of Hamas’ terror infrastructure – weapons caches, rockets and rocket launcher pads. Close-quarter firefights were breaking out in Jabalya, Zeitun, Karara, al-Atatra and Khan Yunis. Three Israeli soldiers were killed in Thursday’s fighting by sniper fire or anti-tank weapons: Major Ro’i Rosner of the Kfir Brigade (Haruv Company – age 27); Sergeant Amit Robinson (Armored Corps 71st Battalion – age 20); Captain Omer Rabinovitch (Golani Egoz Special Forces – age 23).


A detailed Hamas map detailing their military theater of operations map for al- Atatra was found by the IDF, with Arabic markings of locations of snipers, IEDs and booby-traps (including civilian houses and gas stations). This map reveals how civilian casualties are planned for by Hamas, and are part of their war strategy vis-à-vis the media.


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 confront Hamas gunmen throughout Gaza (Number 10:9). Pray that the God of Israel would give them a saving revelation of Yeshua (1 Kings 8:37-44; Zechariah 12:10).


IDF forces are on the cusp of entering this operations’ stage three – 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.


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.


Hamas military activities


On Thursday Hamas fired 30 rockets at civilian targets, striking Ashkelon, Beersheva, Sderot and surrounding kibbutzim and farms. One Grad Katyusha rocket struck the gymnasium of an elementary school in Ashkelon. Since all Israeli schools within rocket range are temporarily closed, no one was injured.


An unknown group fired 4 Katyushas from southern Lebanon (near Naqoura) into the Israeli city of Nahariya, striking a retirement home’s kitchen while 25 pensioners sat eating breakfast. Three people were lightly wounded, though many suffered shock.


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).


Humanitarian aid


On Thursday the IDF opened a convoy of humanitarian aid into Gaza, contingent upon Hamas also holding their fire. Hamas in fact broke the ceasefire within the first hour. The UN has since stopped distributing aid after one of its drivers was killed. UN spokesman Chris Guinness said that the driver was killed by Israeli tank fire, though the IDF medics who examined the body saw only sniper wounds to the chest, presumably from Hamas snipers operating in the area.


Cease-fire deliberations


On Thursday night the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1860 which “stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” (clause #1). The resolution calls upon Israel to withdraw but never mentions Hamas. No mechanism for preventing Hamas from smuggling weapons or firing rockets is discussed. The US abstained on the vote. The Resolution also calls for the dividing up of the land of Israel into two states, Israel and Palestine (clause #8) and recommends a further conference in Moscow (clause #9).


Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan said, “This resolution does not take the Palestinian interest into consideration, and does not address lifting the siege or opening the crossings” adding that his movement is not bound by the current resolution. Hamas’ deeds backed up these words, with more than 30 rockets fired Friday morning and afternoon against Beersheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod and outlying farms.


Hamas’ objection to the Resolution is based on the fact that Hamas is opposed to a democratic state. Its Koran-based vision is only for an Islamist Palestine. Hamas also demands the freedom to smuggle rockets and weaponry into Gaza to be used its the never-ending jihad against the Jewish state.


Abu Abir, a spokesman for the Gazan Palestinian terror group PRC, said, “I admit, we never thought the IDF operation would be so extensive or at such a pace. However once it happened there was no going back. Only war and jihad are the way, there is no way for a ceasefire…”


Israel’s perspective is that the Resolution allows a terrorist body to continue to exist and thrive, to regroup and prepare for further attacks on Israel’s civilian population. The resolution is unacceptable for Israel.


Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni responded to the UN Resolution saying that “Israel has acted, is acting, and will continue to act only according to its calculations, in the interest of the security of its citizens and its right to self defense”.


Prime Minister Olmert added, “Israel has never allowed an outside source to determine its right to defend the security of its citizens. The IDF will continue acting to defend the citizens of Israel and carry out the missions laid before it in the operation. The rocket attacks this morning against residents of the south only prove that the UN’s resolution is not practical and will not be upheld by the Palestinian murder organizations”.


The words of Jeremiah the prophet ring down through the corridors of time, and they have lost none of their pungency: “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace … We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror” (Jeremiah 8:11, 15).


Ø   Pray that God will soften the hearts of the leading nations of the world to deal favorably with Israel (Genesis 12:3) and so receive a blessing from the God of Israel.


World responses


In Oslo 1,000 anti-Israel demonstrators attacked a group of 500 pro-Israel demonstrators on Thursday. Thirty one anti-Israel demonstrators were arrested for violence against police and bodily harm. Five of the six injuries were Norwegian police officers.


Fourteen leading UK Muslims wrote a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Browne warning him that the hostilities in Gaza “revived extremist groups (ed., in England) and empowered their message of violence”.


In Rome Giancarlo Desiderati, leader of the Flaica-Uniti-Cub union, representing 8000 shop assistants in Rome, proposed that Romans “identify and boycott” Jewish-owned shops in the Italian capital in protest of Israel’s operation in Gaza.


Desiderati stated that he and his supporters were drawing up a list of Jewish shops, “though it might be better to publish a list of streets in which a majority of the shops are Jewish and ask people to avoid those streets when shopping … For fifty years we have been concerned for the Jews because of what they suffered in the Holocaust, but now it is time to be concerned for the Palestinians, who are the Jews of today”, Desiderati said, in an amazing parallel to the words and works of Benito Mussolini, WWII fascist dictator.


Anti-Israel demonstrated physically blocked the entrance to Montreal’s Israel Consulate, and had to be forcibly removed by city police.


The US Senate unanimously approved a non-binding bipartisan resolution S.6 affirming support for Israel in its fight against Hamas terrorism. The resolution looks forward to a ceasefire which “would not allow a reestablishment of the status quo ante where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out of Gaza.” It also noted that Hamas “was founded with the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel”.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said: “I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York – how would we as a country react?” Co-sponsor and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican also remarked: “The Israelis … are responding exactly the same way we would.”


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). Pray that He would increase revelation concerning His heart for the Jewish people, the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8).


A thought to ponder


Bob Dylan wrote one of his most powerful (yet widely unknown) songs about the Jewish state of Israel, which he tongue-in-cheek calls “Neighborhood Bully”. His cutting prose and caustic verse are a surprisingly up-to-date commentary on the present round of hostilities. Here are a few selected verses, and we encourage you to listen to the whole song.


Neighborhood Bully


Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man,
His enemies say he’s on their land.
They got him outnumbered about a million to one,
He got no place to escape to, no place to run.
He’s the neighborhood bully.


The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive.
He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin,
He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.
He’s the neighborhood bully.


Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him.
He was supposed to feel bad.
He’s the neighborhood bully.


Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him,
‘Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.
He’s the neighborhood bully.


Well, he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.
Now, they wouldn’t hurt a fly.
To hurt one they would weep.
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.
He’s the neighborhood bully.


What’s anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin’, they say.
He just likes to cause war.
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed,
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed.
He’s the neighborhood bully.


(Copyright ©1983 Special Rider Music)