Israel Under Fire – Talking cease fire, acting in escalation – TWTW 12 July, 2014

Good evening all,
It is almost the end of the 5th day of “Operation Protective Edge” and almost nothing has changed … nothing except the numbers. As of this writing, between 550-600 rockets and mortar shells have been fired from Gaza into Israeli populated communities. About 130 of them have been down by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Close to 1,100 locations for manufacturing, launching and storing missiles have been attacked by Israel. 
There was an attempt by Hamas and its affiliate terrorist organizations to infiltrate Israel by five fighters from the sea. They were observed by Israeli intelligence and were killed in a fire fight after they reached dry land.
Haifa was targeted, not hit, but one person died
Thursday night, alarms went off throughout Haifa. Being awaken in the middle of the night by a siren warning of an incoming missile is not a pleasant experience. Being jolted out of a sleep and having to become alert and functional within 1-2 seconds sends our systems into overdrive. Within seconds of hearing the siren go off, the whole family needed to gather in our “secured environment”, which is a specially reinforced room, that is able to be hermetically sealed off against biological and chemical agents. Within 15 seconds, we were all gathered together, waiting for news that the threat was over. That came about a minute or so later. The missile intended for Haifa fell about 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) south of here, in another community.
But, the shock of having to wake up and get to a secure location took its toll on one elderly woman. She did not have a place to go and went downstairs to a neighbor’s apartment. A combination of factors came into play and while she was with the neighbor, she suffered a heart attack and died.
For all intents and purposes, the night was over. Sleep was something we would look forward to Friday night. We are not unfamiliar with the experience. Haifa has been attacked many times by missiles, from the first Gulf War in 1991, the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and now another attempt. It is unsettling, to say the least. We experienced one long night, which made the following day seem even longer. There are entire communities in the south that have been under actual missile attack for years. A point was reached when the government had to act and finally launched Operation Protective Edge.
Beer Sheva home destroyed; woman walks out of rubble.
Last night, a rocket made a direct hit on a private home in Beer Sheva. The place was leveled. Neighbors knew that an elderly woman was supposed to be at home and, together with rescue forces, they began to search the rubble and found the woman. She was shaken and minimally injured, but was able to walk away. This was nothing short of a miracle. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital, when she will remain at least until Sunday.
Cease-Fire and Increased Hostilities
Hamas will not request a cease fire. It is a matter of losing face, which in the mentality of the Middle East means that they would lose status and influence. It would be the beginning of the end of the terrorist organization if they show weakness. It would also mean that they did not “win” in their attacks upon Israel. Again, here, if you do not “win”, you are considered to have “lost”. Impression plays a large part in the on-going conflicts in the Middle East, not only the Arab-Israeli conflict, but the intra-Arab conflicts going on in this region. In this regard, the willingness of the Netanyahu government to pursue a cease-fire gives the wrong impression – that of weakness – at a time when it needed to demonstrate a determination to end the threat of Hamas against the residents of southern Israel, as well as residents in the cities along the Mediterranean coast, including Tel Aviv, as far as Haifa. Jerusalem has been targeted several times. 
An interesting, almost humorous, note is that during a missile barrage this afternoon in the area around Hebron, one Hamas rocket fell in an area occupied primarily by those who are under the control of the “Palestinian” Authority. The residents didn’t hesitate to immediate complain that the Israeli government should provide them with sufficient warning of incoming missiles, so that they can find shelter. After the missile fell in their own neighborhood, none of them were seen dancing and rejoicing on their rooftops.
There is increasing talk of a cease fire. Various proposals have been put forth, allowing for a compromise. It is not worth speculating on the nature and potential consequences of any such compromise solution. But, one thing can be said: If a cease fire does go into effect, which leaves Hamas in power, even if weakened, and if Israel does not accomplish its goal of destroying Hamas’ military capability, it will be interpreted in the broader “Palestinian” and terror-based communities as a victory for Hamas, which is exactly what that organization is looking for. 
Hamas is in a difficult situation. Its popularity has waned. Popularity and prestige mean influence, power and money, all of which Hamas desperately needs. On the other hand, Israel will be seen as having been weakened and the ultimate loser in this latest conflict, which will encourage our enemies to continue their attempts to destroy us as a nation and to remove us from what they misguidedly refer to as “occupied territory”. The way to achieve their goals, which include weakening the Fatah faction of the “Palestinian” unity government, is to escalate its activities against Israel and to have “third parties” initiate a cease fire on terms acceptable to Hamas. We cannot and must not end the present operation without removing the military threat from Gaza. The consequences could be disastrous, not only militarily, but politically for the present government.
Threat against Tel Aviv
The most recent threat issued by Hamas is that it would attack Tel Aviv at 9:00 p.m. Israel time tonight. That is in another minute or two from now. It is clear that Hamas wants to do something on a grand scale before a possible cease fire is agreed to. One of the targets would clearly be the Israeli equivalent of the Twin Towers that were destroyed on September 11, 2001.
There were rockets launched against the greater Tel Aviv area shortly after the time threatened by Hamas. Iron Dome knocked out one and another fell on a highway, but most fell in open areas. By God’s grace. No one was injured.
Encouragement and Condemmation
Various countries stood and stand with Israel, proclaiming unashamedly Israel’s right to defend itself against the rocket attacks of Hamas and its affiliated terror gangs. After about a half dozen countries publicly supported Israel, the U.S. finally joined in, but wanted the parties to exercise restraint and offered to mediate a cease fire. 
Other countries were less tolerant, with anti-Israel sentiment being sounded both on the street, as well as from government circles. Condemnation of Israel was based on the number of casualties in Gaza, as opposed to the number of casualties in Israel. Israel was portrayed as the aggressor, while totally ignoring the fact that it came under increasing, massive missile attacks emanating from Gaza. Those that mentioned that rockets were launched against Israel ended up down-playing Hamas’ activities, by claiming that Israel was over-reacting. 
The problem with the condemnation against Israel from the international community is that they underestimate the power and ability of terrorist organizations and the ability of such organizations and groups to influence the masses. And then, one day, when they, themselves, become victims of terrorism, they begin to ask the questions “How could this happen? How could we have allowed it to happen?” But, by then, it’s too late.
Early Warnings – Ignored by Hamas
Those who accuse Israel of over-reacting tend to willingly ignore the fact that the IDF has a policy of notifying civilians to vacate their premises a short time before the air force blows up the factory or house, which is either occupied or used by terrorists to manufacture and/or store and/or launch rockets and mortars. The intention is to reduce the number of civilian casualties.
This worked well for a while, until Hamas began to order civilians to defy the early warnings of Israel and to sacrifice themselves and be willing to die. This, in effect, turns the citizens into human shields
This is the same policy that Hamas fighters employed in 2012, when they grabbed children and used them as protection against Israel’s soldiers. This is diametrically opposite from what Israeli soldiers do, who protect civilians rather than use civilians to protect them. 
Israel has notified a wide area in Gaza this evening that they should vacate their premises. If that is true, then it could be that a ground operation is about to take place, notwithstanding the possibility of continuing discussions for a cease fire. It looks as though Hamas is unwilling to stop its attacks on Israel and that our forces are being given the go ahead to take out targets that until now were not being considered.

The north came under rocket fire.
As this was being posted, it was reported that rockets were fired in the area of the western Galilee. At least 3 missiles were said to lad in open areas and no one was injured. The terrorist organisation, Hizb’allah, in Lebanon, has not claimed responsibility. Nor would it be wise for it to do so at this time. Israel would not want to have a “second front” opened at this time and so we would not hesitate to deal with it swiftly and with full force.
That’s it for now.
May our leaders pray as did King Solomon: “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?”(2 Chronicles 1:10)
May the LORD guard those who guard us, and may they go out and return in peace (Psalm 121:8). We have more than half a dozen in our own congregation, who are presently on active duty, or who are reservists that were called up this week.
May our people consider their ways and return to the LORD. They still “do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD” (Isa. 31:1). 

Thank you for your prayers.
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing and have a great week.

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