This report contains details of five days of fighting, a brief analysis, and specific prayer requests. 

Ø      The IDF encircles Gaza City and eliminates Hamas’ #3 leader

Ø      More than 113 Hamas rocket attacks against Negev cities

Ø      IDF keeps opening humanitarian aid corridor for 3-4 hours per day

Ø      Egyptian brokered ceasefire nears

Ø      Anti-Semitic attacks continue internationally

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.

Hamas rockets 

Over the past five days Hamas fired more than 113 at civilian targets. Over 800 rockets have been fired so far in the last 21 days of hostilities.  

On Thursday at 4:55 pm two Grad Katyusha rockets were fired at Beersheva. One hit a civilian car which had pulled over to the side of the road upon hearing the air-raid sirens. Six people were injured, 2 seriously. One of those was 7-year old Uriel Elazarov, who was comforting his mother as they huddled, saying “Don’t be scared, Mom, it’ll be alright!”. Uriel is in serious condition at Soroka Hospital in Beersheva. This rocket fell approximately one mile away from our home.  

Other rockets have recently landed only meters away from believers in the Western Negev.

Here is a day by day breakdown of the number of Hamas rockets fired at Israeli farms, towns and cities since the war began: 67 (Dec 27), 31 (Dec 28), 71 (Dec 29), 54 (Dec 30), 77 (Dec 31), 53 (Jan 1), 38 (Jan 2), 40 (Jan 3), 47 (Jan 4), 40 (Jan 5), 35 (Jan 6), 28 (Jan 7), 27 (Jan 8), 29 (Jan 9), 26 (Jan 10), 20 (Jan 11), 24 (Jan 12), 22 (Jan 13), 17~ (Jan 14), 30 (Jan 15), 22 (Jan 16).

One of the main objectives of Operation Cast Lead is to stop the firing of rockets at Israeli civilians. Another is to stop all violent terror attacks coming out of Gaza. If war is another method of communicating to the enemy, it seems that Hamas has not fully accepted the message. Here are some relevant quotes showing that Hamas is determined to keep opposing a ceasefire, and is quite willing to use Gazan civilians as human shields in the process. 

Hamas declarations in the past days have said that they “will not agree to harm the tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt … As long as there is occupation, the resistance will continue” (January 14, Rafaat Nasif, senior Hamas official). “The resistance won’t stop, and Gaza won’t surrender. Victory is near” (January 15, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, Islamic Jihad Secretary-General). Hamas states in its covenant that the “the occupation” means the existence of the State of Israel anywhere. The tunnels referred to are those used for smuggling Iranian and Chinese rockets into Gaza.   

“Gaza is writing a new chapter in history today, and the future will be different from the past … Israel thought it would end the situation with a blow from the air, but this is the 20th day and Israel hasn’t achieved a thing. It hasn’t broken the resistance, hasn’t dictated its conditions. Our losses are fewer than the ones on the Israeli side” (January 15, Khaled Mashaal, Hamas Politburo chief). Losses to date (fatalities) in Operation Cast Lead are ten Israeli soldiers, and between 500 and 700 Hamas gunmen.  

“We will not accept Israel’s conditions for a ceasefire” (January 16, Khaled Mashaal, Hamas Politburo chief). “Don’t suggest that we surrender because we haven’t been defeated and won’t be defeated. Our determination grows stronger every day, because our debt to the shahids (ed., jihad martyrs) whose blood has been spilled is bigger. We shall continue fighting, so don’t suggest that we surrender … Just like the resistance was victorious in Lebanon in 2006, (ed. Hamas) will win in January 2009″ (January 17, Osama Hamdan, senior Hamas spokesman in Lebanon). 

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). 

Israeli intelligence in Gaza 

Since the start of Operation Cast Lead the Israel Air force has carried out more than 2,500 sorties. This includes the bombing of 250 smuggling tunnels. On January 15 the number three Hamas leader, Sa’id Siam was successfully targeted, along with his brother Ayad and Salah Abu Sharah (head of Hamas’ security organization). Siam was head of Hamas’ internal security department, and was responsible for the murder of hundreds of Palestinian Authority workers in Hamas’ violent putsch of June 2007. He oversaw the kneecapping of any Gazans who expressed public opposition to Hamas rule in recent days. He was also the most hard-line of the Hamas political leadership. 

The IDF has eliminated more than 400 known Hamas operatives, and at least 200 more who were not wearing battle fatigues (deliberately hiding their military affiliation, as per explicit Hamas instructions). It is worth pausing for a moment and considering the deep penetration that Israel’s SHABAK security services have done in Gaza, to be able to have such comprehensive details on Hamas gunmen all the way up the chain of command. It also reveals the ignorant lack of professionalism of most media reports who willingly accept Hamas casualty figures without understanding the propagandistic nature of these twisted casualty reports. 

IDF engineers discovered a terror tunnel dug underneath the border fence from east-central Gaza to the Nahal Oz fuel terminal. The purpose of the tunnel was to attack the Israeli fuel trucks which have continued to bring diesel fuel into Gaza for years and have continued to do so throughout Operation Cast Lead. On April 9 2008 Hamas terrorists fired mortars and small arms fire on an Israeli mechanic and a driver at the Nahal Oz terminal readying trucks for fuel deliveries in Gaza, killing two. This fuel terminal exists for the benefit of ordinary Gazans. The level of self-destructive hatred which motivates Hamas is staggering to most Western minds. 

Misleading media charges – phosphorus shelling

 

Charges have been made by some human rights activists regarding Israel’s supposedly illegal use of white phosphorus shells against civilians. Peter Herby, the head of the Red Cross’s mines-arms unit said “In some of the strikes in Gaza it’s pretty clear that phosphorus was used, but it’s not very unusual to use phosphorus to create smoke or illuminate a target. We have no evidence to suggest it’s being used in any other way.” Illegal uses of phosphorus armaments would include burning down buildings or consciously putting civilians at risk.  

All the major media carried the false charges against Israel, and most did not refer to the clear Red Cross denials. The same media outlets chose not to carry verified reports of Hamas firing phosphorus mortars at civilians in the Eshkol area of Israel on Tuesday, one of them landing very close to a farm owned by believers.

 

Tightening the ring around Gaza City 

Starting on Tuesday IDF forces began tightening the ring encircling Gaza City, where Hamas’ main command center operates in bunkers under the large Shifa Hospital building. On Thursday 80 tanks made their way into the suburb of Tel al-Hawwa, in southwest Gaza City. Thousands of Gazans began to flee their homes and seek safer ground. The home of senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar was struck on Thursday, killing five of his personal bodyguards. 

Hamas mortar and RPG squads targeted IDF forces from UNRWA facilities (the UN HQ in Gaza City). IDF forces returned fire, and one of the major UN warehouses was set ablaze. This prompted a cry of outrage from visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Prime Minister Olmert responded, “This is a sad incident, and I apologize for it, but our forces were attacked from there and the response was harsh. We did not wish for such an incident to happen, and I don’t know if you are aware of this, but Hamas attacked from within the UNRWA building during our humanitarian pause in Gaza,” 

During WWII George Orwell once noted that “we sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm”. He added, “War is evil, but it is often the lesser evil”.  

Ø      Pray for the brave soldiers in these units who are risking their lives many 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).

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.

Humanitarian aid 

For the past five days the IDF has allowed convoys of humanitarian aid to reach Gaza for three hours per day, contingent upon Hamas also holding their fire. Hamas in fact broke this mini-ceasefire every day. On Tuesday 100 truckloads of humanitarian aid were allowed in to Gaza through Israel, while on Friday 130 trucks entered. More than 1,136 truckloads of aid, supplies, fuel and medical equipment have been allowed into Gaza by Israel throughout Operation Cast lead.  

Proportionality and international duplicity

Each Gazan civilian killed or wounded is a tragedy, and each one is precious to the God of Israel. Though the IDF and IAF are taking pains that NATO forces never took in the Kosovo conflict, Hamas is spoon-feeding the world media vicious, false and misleading spins on the matter of civilian casualties. Civilian casualties are a factored-in part of Hamas’ war strategic planning. 

The reason for civilian casualties (perhaps 25% of the 1,200 fatalities and 5,000 wounded to date) is unfortunately simple – the Hamas High Command  were cowardly and callous when they decided to establish their rocket bases in the midst of Palestinian urban areas. 

Between March and June 1999 NATO led 90 air attacks (the air forces of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Turkey, Spain, UK, and US) which caused between 500 and 1,500 civilian fatalities. Cluster bombs were used in civilian areas and these caused a minimum of 150 deaths. Operation Allied Force struck old-age sanitariums, hospitals, markets, columns of fleeing refugees, buses, trains, etc. No casualties were suffered by NATO forces, since they chose to “remain above the conflict” by primarily using high-altitude bombing – a decision that led to a drastic increase in civilian fatalities. Certainly a comparison of NATO and Kosovar fatalities in that air force operation would be a textbook example of “disproportionately“.  

Yet the NATO spokesman Jamie Shea declared on BBC News  (May 13 1999), “There is always a cost to defeat an evil. It never comes free, unfortunately. But the cost of failure to defeat a great evil is far higher”. He added that NATO planes had bombed only “legitimate designated military targets … We try to do our utmost to ensure that if there are civilians around we do not attack; NATO does not target civilians…let’s be perfectly clear about that.”

 

The Israel Defense Forces are actually defending their own country against Hamas rocket attacks – terror which is targeting Israeli civilians. The ten national air forces listed above were never physically targeted by any side in the Kosovo conflict prior to the air sorties. Another outstanding comparative difference between NATO conduct in 1999 and IDF conduct in Gaza 2009, is that IDF troops have chosen to walk into extreme physical peril in order to limit Gazan civilian casualties. The IAF continues to abort bombing runs when innocent civilians accidentally stray directly in front of strategic targets.

 

World responses

 

President Evo Morales (a close friend of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez) has broken relations with Israel, saying that the IDF’s activities have “seriously threatened world peace”

 

Turkish PM recap Tayyip Erdogan called for Israel to be thrown out of the UN, “How is such a country … allowed to enter through the gates of the UN?” 

Syria‘s Bashar Assad and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashar have called for “Arab efforts to put an end to the barbaric massacre that Israel is carrying out against the Palestinians people”. 

Libya attempted to have the Security Council condemn Israel attacks, but withdrew its push when told that it would have to also allow a discussion of Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians.

 

Britain and other EU UN ambassadors attempted to pass a resolution declaring Israel responsible for the situation in Gaza. Gerald Kaufman, a British Labour Party legislator who is Jewish (though not kindly disposed toward Israel) declared during a House of Commons debate that “the present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploits the continuing guilt from Gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians”. 

Dozens gathered in Teheran, burning posters of President-elect Obama and crying “Death to Obama” while waving Palestinian flags.

 

Anti-Semitic attacks against Jews in France (Molotov cocktails and spraying of Nazi slogans) continue apace, with synagogues attacked in St-Denis, Lille, Mulhouse, Paris and Villeneuve-Saint-Georges. A Jewish man was stabbed on Friday in Paris; French police believe that anti-Israeli motives are involved.

 

On a more positive note, over 1,000 people demonstrated in Vienna in a pro-Israel rally on Monday, while last Saturday in Germany there were three pro-Israel demonstrations of approximately 1,000 each in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. In the kingdom of God numbers are not the ultimate test of power, influence or significance. We remember that One Man’s death – whipped, naked and abandoned by His friends – continues to bring salvation to untold billions.  

Ø      Keep praying and keep blessing Israel! The God of Israel watches and makes not of ever positive and significant blessing of His people Israel. 

Ø      Pray fervently that the Holy Spirit, God’s Heavenly Restrainer, will suppress and foil this explosion 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).  

 

Cease-fire deliberations

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Friday in Washington. The US agreed to help prevent Hamas’ smuggling of weapons through Egypt. Perhaps this step will help, since Egypt is also an American ally, and it is Egypt’s passive approach to this issue (by allowing Hams to smuggle weapons and rockets into Gaza) which is one of the main causes for this war. At the same time, Livni stated that Israel reserves the right to respond with fire if Hamas attempts to re-arm itself. 

It is rumored that discussions between Israel, Egypt and the US will lead to a declaration of a temporary ceasefire. That ceasefire (if honored by Hamas) might lead to further discussion regarding the establishment of an apparatus to prevent weapons smuggling. Such a step might in turn lead to a staged Israeli withdrawal parallel to a Hamas guarantee not to attack Israel for a certain period of time (a renewal of a tahadiya, or lull in the battle – see www.basicsproject.org/terrorism/ideology/tahadiya_houdna.htm). 

This potential ceasefire is shot full of problems. If carried out as diplomats are hinting at, it would not remove Hamas from being a potential “spoiler” and major player; it would leave Hamas with sufficient rockets to re-initiate hostilities at a later date (and potentially extend the range of its rockets in a future battle); it would leave Hamas terror in charge of Gaza; it would leave Staff-Sergeant Gilad Shalit (the kidnapped Israeli soldier – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilad_Shalit) still in a dank Hamas secret prison – where he has languished for more than 930 days. 

Ø      Pray fervently that God will guide Israel’s and America’s leaders, showing them how to pull the plug on Hamas’ abilities, influence and control in Gaza.

 Ø      Pray that Israel’s leaders would have great courage to insist on Staff-Sergeant Gilad Shalit’s release, and that he would be released now.

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey
www.davidstent.org

Advertisements