It was only a week ago when a major Lebanese newspaper reported that Israel and Qatar were moving forward with attempts to reach an agreement that would establish a sea passage between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip. According to the report, the route would be monitored by international forces, but under Israeli security supervision. The deal would remove a sizeable portion of the sea blockade and considerably extend the permissible fishing area.
Due to the ongoing friction between Fatah (the PLO faction in Judea and Samaria) and Hamas, the President of the “Palestinian” Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has withheld transferring funds to Gaza. This, in turn, creates an economic crisis which stirs more violent activity each week for the past eight months along the fence separating the Gaza enclave from the communities in the south of Israel.
In an effort to alleviate the economic distress, Qatar has offered to step in and pay, at this point, only the salaries of Hamas civil servants, starting with back pay from July, at the rate of $15 million per month for six months, or a total of US $90 million. This payment, however, has stirred concerns by other “Palestinian” factions about Qatar’s involvement in “Palestinian” affairs and the deal allegedly being worked out on their behalf by Qatar and Israel. The financial “deal” purportedly would reduce, but not eliminate, the ongoing militaristic actions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad along the Gaza fence.
Needless to say, the Qatari cash payments intended for Hamas-controlled Gazan residents was condemned by Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who stated: “This is capitulation to terrorism, and in effect Israel is buying short-term calm with money, while severely undermining long-term security.” Qatar has also said it would hand out $100 to each of 50,000 poor families, as well as larger sums to “Palestinians” wounded in clashes along Gaza’s border with Israel. A source close to Mahmoud Abbas said the “The PLO did not agree to the deal facilitating the money to Hamas that way” (i.e., in suitcases – “like a gangster”), adding that such a deal, bypassing the PLO, was damaging to efforts to reconcile the PA and Hamas. In direct contradiction to the recent reports of progress regarding Egypt’s involvement as mediator of talks between Israel and the “Palestinians”, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar denied that any deal with Israel was in the works, saying that an understanding is being worked out between Hamas, Egypt, Qatar and the U.N., adding that whoever says that “there is a deal or understandings with the occupation does not tell the truth”. That statement evidences the underlying attitude of Hamas and its unwillingness to even recognize Israel as an existing nation state.
Whatever may be the situation concerning a “deal in the making” – the situation has seriously deteriorated since last night (Sunday). An elite unit of the IDF special forces managed to infiltrate some 3 kilometers (almost 2 miles) into Gaza in a civilian vehicle. Something went wrong and a fire-fight broke out. When it was over, a Lt. Colonel of the IDF was killed, another officer wounded and seven Hamas terrorists were killed, including Nur Barakeh, the commander of one of the battalions of a Hamas brigade in Khan Yunis. The nature of the mission was not revealed, but military officials said it was “very meaningful” to Israel’s security. Israeli air support was called in to help in the evacuation of the IDF unit. The Lt. Colonel was buried this afternoon with thousands in attendance. He was 41 and left a wife and two children.
“Red Alert” sirens have been sounding all across southern Israel this afternoon (Ashkelon, Sderot, Netivot, the area of Beer Sheva and the Dead Sea) and evening. Within the last few hours, barrages of hundreds rockets have been fired towards Israeli communities from the Gaza side of the fence.
Hamas has claimed responsibility for the rocket barrages. Response time to get to a shelter when the sirens go off varies from 15 seconds to a minute and a half, depending upon how far the person is from the source of the rockets. The striped, dark red to the left of the diagram shows 3 points in the Gaza Strip. The red, orange, beige and yellow are Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beer Sheva and Jerusalem, respectively. The blue patch to the right is the Dead Sea. The IDF has responded by attacking more than 70 terror targets of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, killing several terrorists in the process. Following widespread shooting, the IDF also placed units inside of the settlements surrounding the Gaza Strip as a defense against the threat of infiltration and/or terror-tunnel activity. In addition, dozens of IDF armoured vehicles are on their way to the south to reinforce the units around the Gaza line. A spokesman for the IDF stated: “Hamas is leading the Gaza Strip to destruction and will feel the intensity of the IDF’s response in the coming hours. So far we have attacked a wide range of targets. Firing squads, military compounds and observation posts. The attempt to harm civilians is unacceptable to us and we will continue to respond with force.”
Lest we forget, prior to the events of the last 24 hours, the violent border protests continued with deadly clashes between “Palestinian” protesters and the IDF, at times prompting serious concerns of an outbreak of a new war. And now, here we are once again, “on the brink”.
One would have to ask how a right-wing government has allowed the situation to deteriorate to such a point that we are restraining ourselves from putting an end to the terrorism of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, at the expense of residents in the communities in the south of our country, citizens who, once again, need to run to secured shelters to get away from rocket barrages emanating from the Gaza Strip. We can’t continue to talk about trying to enter into yet another ceasefire with Hamas. This is an exercise in futility. Even when Egyptian-brokered talks were supposed to be approaching agreement, Hamas and Islamic Jihad continued their violence against Israel. Only yesterday, when Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Paris, together with representatives from countries around the world, to commemorate the end of “The Great War”, he said that there is no political solution for Gaza. If that is the case, then we must follow that statement with: What IS the solution? War? The situation is building up to that. But, to what end? Or, is it agreeing to the establishment of a “Palestinian” state? This is also a non-starter. It would be inviting those who are sworn to our destruction to set up an enemy state in our midst.
Then there is the option of continuing the “tit for tat” belligerence that falls short of war. The major confrontations are with Hamas-controlled Gaza. But, the recognized leadership of the “Palestinian” Authority is based in Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as “the West Bank”. The two so-called “Palestinian” entities have been at constant odds with one another for control over those who call themselves “Palestinian”. In essence, their inability to come to terms with one another has set up, de facto, two quasi states, both claiming to be “Palestinian”.
This has served Israel’s interests for the past 11 years, despite the occasional, necessary military actions against Hamas. Most of the time, Israel “responds” to Hamas aggression and when that aggression crosses Israel’s pre-conceived red lines, the IDF steps in to strike hard at Hamas to bring them back into line, until Hamas seeks a cease-fire, to which Israel readily agrees. And so, the cycle continues. The main problem is that Israel does not have a considered strategy concerning Gaza primarily and Judea and Samaria secondarily. And so, we continue to respond, instead of to initiate, leaving the fate of the residents in the south of Israel to the whims of “Palestinian” bureaucrats and Holocaust deniers, like Mahmoud Abbas, or to terrorists, sworn to the destruction of Israel, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who decide when they want to aggravate Israel. At some point, Israel will cease trying to compromise with our enemies and decide to finally defeat them.
Until then, every response of the IDF to the aggression of Hamas and Islamic Jihad is intended to systematically weaken their military infrastructure. But, is it enough to accomplish the ultimate goal of getting them to stop attacking us? Hamas will not stop unless it believes that its actions will result in its being removed from power. If that is, in fact, the case, then we should use force to end the force being displayed against us. Hamas knows that Israel can wipe them off the map. Israel knows that as well, but exercises restraint far beyond what other nations would do under similar circumstances. That is because Israel recognises that the world does not treat it like other nations. When Israel is involved in a matter, there is always the double standard of expectation and condemnation.
We are “The People of the Book” – the Bible. Shouldn’t we learn from the innumerable lessons that are presented in the Scriptures for our benefit?
When Elisha (the prophet) became sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash the king of Israel came down to him and wept over him …Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows” … Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” … then Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands. He said, “Open the window toward the east” … Then Elisha said, “Shoot!” … And he said, “The LORD’s arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram (Syria); for you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have destroyed them.” Then he said, “Take the arrows [and] Strike the ground” and he struck it three times and stopped. So the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times.” (2 Kings 13:14-19)
What country in its right mind would put up with a situation like this?
You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow and the LORD will be with you. (2 Chronicles 20:17)
Thank you for your prayers for wisdom for the government, strength and courage for those who stand in the gap to defend us, grace to bear up under trials and favour in the sight of God and man.
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing,