Jerusalem before Anything Else!

The following article was published in the Palestinian newspaper, Al-Ayyam on 18 October 2014:

“What is happening in Jerusalem these days, in al-Aksa Mosque, must be given priority over any other issue. Jerusalem, which for generations kept a strong Muslim and Arab identity, is falling under the pressure of its Judaization, occupation and annexation.

Current events in Jerusalem are completely different from that of previous years of the occupation. Today, the government – which promotes occupation under the banner of “greater Israel” – is not only controlling us by military force, but also legitimizing the seizure of our lands via all possible means. It is defying and deceiving the entire world, and getting away without punishment. It portrays the occupied as the occupier, and the defender as the aggressor. It is taking advantage of the so-called moderate Arab support of its policies and the significant US aid to promote its agenda. What is happening in Jerusalem today is a war against history.

It would be a grave mistake to talk about any prospect of our future homeland without talking about Jerusalem first – as the capital of our nation that we seek to liberate from occupation. It is time to make Jerusalem the first topic of every conversation we have – at the UN, in negotiations, with international allies and with our Arab brothers. We know that the women and children resisting the Israeli war machine in Jerusalem with stones and steadfastness will prove that Jerusalem is ours, no matter what they say or do.”

Zec 12:3  And it will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a stone of great weight for all the peoples; all those who take it up will be badly wounded; and all the nations of the earth will come together against it.

We already see Jerusalem featuring more and more in the world media and the nations starting to pick up the heavy stone as the bible described Jerusalem in the last days.

Our obligation is to keep on praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

The Rising Tide of Radicalism in the Middle East

Although a fragile cease fire between Israel and Hamas is holding, another kind of war is raging. While Israeli’s enjoyed their high holy days, we saw attacks against the Jerusalem light rail and confrontations on the Temple Mount.

The Palestinian education system with its radical curriculum of claiming the whole of Israel as Palestine and stoking the flames of hate against Israel resulted in yet another ugly incident. A 14 year old Palestinian boy hurled a Molotov cocktail to Israeli soldiers in a week of stone throwing and damaging of properties. The boy unfortunately died after an Israeli soldier shot at the direction from where the attack originated. The incident will be investigated by the Israeli Army.

On Thursday, 16 October 2014, Khaled Mashaal called upon the Arab world from the Qatari capital of Doha to defend the Al Aqsa Mosque saying Israel was trying to seize the site, which is holy to both Judaism and Islam. Mashal accused the Israeli government of taking advantage of Arab preoccupation with regional turmoil, particularly in Syria and Iraq.

“We call on the nation to be angry and to send a message of painful anger to the world that the Palestinian people, the Arab and Muslim nation, will not be silent at the Israeli crime,” Mashaal said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied there are any moves to restrict Palestinian access to the compound and blamed Palestinian extremists for the violence.

Iran blamed Israel for a mysterious explosion which shook Tehran’s secretive Parchin military facility. Iran, which has repeatedly threatened to annihilate Israel, is behind Tuesday’s (14 October 2014) bombing by Hezbollah on Israeli troops in Har Dov, a 100-square mile area where the Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli borders meet (the Shabaa Farms region). The first of the bombs injured two Israeli soldiers on patrol in an armored vehicle.  The second did not cause damage or casualties.

In the meantime the battle against ISIS intensified. Although ISIS is still far from Israel’s borders, the security establishment keep a watchful eye on the movements of ISIS. The Knesset (Israeli Parliament) will keep the developing security situation in the Middle East in mind when deciding on the next budget.

Israel faced multiple threats before and with God’s help, they will prevail.

Is The Tide Turning?

Israel was castigated by the world media during the Gaza war, also known as Operation Protective Edge, but the tide is turning in unexpected ways. The Lord of Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

Tourism to Israel is booming again. Sunday, 28 September 2014 marked the most ever landing and take-offs from Ben Gurion Airport. The current instability in the Middle East seems not to deter people to visit Israel. There is a marked upsurge in solidarity with Israel, especially among Christians.

Aliyah from France, Ukraine, North America and some European countries increased dramatically due to the increase in anti-Semitism in these countries. Despite the negative media coverage about the situation in Israel, Jewish people are convinced that Israel is the only country where they feel save.

Even Lady Gaga after performing in Tel Aviv had only positive things to say about Israel. She said: “The world is wrong about Israel.”

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu met each other on the sidelines at the United Nations during the weekend. PM Netanyahu invited PM Narendra to visit Israel and call it “historic ties.” India will be a very important geopolitical ally and both countries will benefit economically and on the level of security.

On the other hand we saw Mahmoud Abbas started an intiative to isolate Israel in his speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations on Friday, 26 September 2014. He accuses Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. His efforts boomeranged badly. The United States criticised Abbas for his aggressive speech. Some Israeli leaders even said that Abbas proved that he is not a partner for peace. The world saw the true colours of the Palestinian leaders.

In the midst of all these developments the US, Europe and some Arab countries started with a bombing campaign against ISIS. The problem with air attacks is that there is always the possibility of civilian casualties. Coalition air strikes hit grain silos in Syria overnight on Sunday, killing civilians. Hopefully, and all indications are that the world has a better understanding of the difficulties Israel faced in Gaza. A more realistic tone is starting to develop among Western leaders and most importantly, also among some Arab leaders.

Will the Jewish year of 5775 usher in a more realistic outlook to the complexities of the Middle East or is the latest developments only a pause before prophetic events roll out?

The Rapidly Changing Relations between Israel and South Africa

The ANC alliance condemned Israel as a nation founded on the basis of apartheid, and branded the establishment of the state a crime against humanity.

The allegation was made in a statement issued over the weekend, as South Africa’s anti-Israel lobby planned to protest a conference Sunday held by South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) in Johannesburg.

The statement of the Alliance Secretariat under the caption On the Middle East read as follow:

As the Alliance we are now heightening our campaign aimed at boycotting and isolating Israel as a state founded on the basis of apartheid, which according to international law and several UN conventions is a crime against humanity.

We therefore pledge ongoing solidarity with the people of Palestine and will enhance our support for the boycott, disinvestment and sanction initiatives against the state of Israel. The Alliance further calls on transport sector workers, at South African docks and airports to neither offload products from Israel nor upload products bound for Israel. We also call on retail sector workers to refuse to handle or package products manufactured in or originating from Israel.

Statement issued by Gwede Mantashe: Secretary General, ANC, Zwelinzma Vavi: General Secretary, COSATU, Solly Maphaila: Deputy General Secretary, SACP, Robert Tsikwe, Deputy Secretary General, SANCO, September 12 2014

The Premier of Gauteng province, David Makhura, was scheduled to speak at the SAJBD conference today (Sunday, 14 September 2014), but reportedly cancelled his appearance.

Several anti-Israel groups praised the cancellation by Makkhura. “This non-participation by Comrade Makhura is welcomed as we see no reason why any leader of the ANC should be on a platform hosted by the SAJBD,” Muhammed Desai, a South African leader of the BDS movement, stated in a press release.

The following scripture is so relevant in these days:

O God, do not keep quiet: let your lips be open and take no rest, O God.

Psa 83:2  For see! those who make war on you are out of control; your haters are lifting up their heads.

Psa 83:3  They have made wise designs against your people, talking together against those whom you keep in a secret place.

Psa 83:4  They have said, Come, let us put an end to them as a nation; so that the name of Israel may go out of man’s memory.

Psa 83:5  For they have all come to an agreement; they are all joined together against you….

The Bible in Basic English 1965

Watch Video: What’s really behind the BDS campaign against Israel? 

The Middle East Conundrum

The threat against Israel is significantly on the rise. A few months ago yet another peace process collapsed due to unrealistic demands from the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas and the forming of a coalition between Fatah and Hamas. The last straw was the kidnapping and murder of 3 Israeli teenagers and the firing of rockets on Israel by Hamas.

The stakes are significantly on the rise. The Islamic State (IS) declared that the ultimate goal is to conquer Jerusalem “and no gates will stop them.” Shaul Mofaz, Kadima party chairman and former Minister of Defense confirmed this notion at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzlia on Monday 8 September 2014 by saying: “Islamic State terrorists are active throughout the region, and are looking to move into Jordan, Gaza and Lebanon. But their goal is Jerusalem, just like Hamas.”

At a NATO summit held at Newport, Wales last week, world leaders committed their support for a coalition force against the Islamic State. The same urgency is yet to be seen to demilitarize Gaza as demanded by Israel. The Intelligence establishment of Israel confirmed that Hamas started again with its tunnel infrastructure after suffering severe damage during Operation Protective Edge. Intelligence sources also confirmed the resumption of the manufacturing of rockets by Hamas.

At the same time a warning is sounded from the Israel Defense Force, Northern Command of the threat Hizbullah in Lebanon poses to Israel. It is estimated that Hizbullah are in possession of 100 000 rockets of which 5 000 are long range with the capacity to carry higher explosive payloads. Channel 2 TV reported on Friday: the Israeli army is “making plans and training” for “a very violent war” against Hizbullah along the border with South Lebanon.

Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh threatens to revive rocket fire on 25 September, the first day of the Jewish New Year Festival, unless the Gaza blockade is lifted by then. Although it is highly unlikely that Hamas will be in a position to confront Israel so soon after Operation Protective Edge, the possibility exists that Hizbullah could open a second front in the north of Israel to assist Hamas in the south. It is expected that the Iron Dome Defence System will be heavily challenged in such a scenario.

In the final analysis: God never slumbers nor sleeps. If the people of Israel put their trust in the God of Israel, He certainly will protect them.

Hezbollah Upgrades Missile Threat To Israel

Islamic State (IS) Threat to Israel

Since my last report on 29 June 2014 the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) declares a Caliphate on parts of Iraq and Syria and changed its name to Islamic State (IS). The rapid advancement and brutality of the IS forces stunned the world and after the beheading of a US journalist, the United States called for a coalition of forces to confront IS.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron warned this weekend that Britain faces the “greatest and deepest” terror threat in the country’s history. Yesterday, Australia joined the UK in heightening warnings against terrorism. Both governments are concerned that citizens who joined Islamic State militants could return with plans to attack on home soil. More than 500 Britons are believed to have gone to Iraq and Syria and at least half have returned. Some are feared to be planning attacks in the UK and one major plot has been foiled.

Islamic State fighters executed 250 Syrian soldiers it captured during its storming of the key northern Tabqa air base, 30 km from Islamic State’s stronghold in the city of Raqqa in northeast Syria this week. Earlier this week, the UN accused Islamic State of carrying out many mass executions in the past few months, including the killing of 670 inmates of a prison in the Iraq city of Mosul in June and the murder of captured Iraqi soldiers.

The scale of the crisis facing the international community deepened as UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights clashed with Syrian rebels. On Sunday 31 August 2014, the Israel Defence Force shot down a drone from Syria with a Patriot missile. The IDF monitoring the situation very closely, knowing the threat IS poses to Israel. A commander of IS stated a few weeks ago that their “direction is Jerusalem and no gate will stop them.”

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu stated at a news conference that there is no difference between Hamas and IS. As the stated goal of Islamic State is to reach Jerusalem, Hamas could be seen as natural allies of IS. The leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal also said a day after the end of Operation Protective Edge that it is not about a cease fire, but about the liberation of Jerusalem.

Israel is facing grave danger and by trusting leaders of this world only made it worse. The only One Israel can trust is the God of Israel who never slumber nor sleeps.

News Update on Operation Protective Edge

1.  Palestinian sources have reported that the man in charge of money transfers for Hamas in Gaza Mohammed al-Ghoul, who also moonlighted as the Hamas Justice Minister, was killed Sunday afternoon by an IDF rocket that hit his car.  The surgical strike in northern Gaza has been confirmed by the IDF, following Palestinian reports.

2.  IAF airstrikes Sunday night destroyed an office building in Rafah that housed an office of Hamas’s Interior Ministry, according to AP. The seven-story Zourab building was levelled and the strikes caused severe damage to nearby shops, homes and cars. Another strike hit a nearby shopping centre with dozens of shops, sparking a fire that gutted the two-story building.

3.  Yesterday the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee authorized the government’s request to call up another 10,000 reservists. In addition, the committee extended the “special situation on the home front” until September 2 and called for the Finance Ministry to finalize by that date the amount of compensation for damages, direct and indirect, that residents of the south will receive.

4.  In an interview with Yahoo News in Cairo, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said that Hamas does not try to target civilians. “We do not target civilians, and we try most of the time to aim at military targets and Israeli bases.  But we admit that we have a problem. We do not have sophisticated weapons. We do not have the weapons available to our enemy … so aiming is difficult. We do promise you, though, that we will try in the future and we will warn people … We have given warnings to Israeli civilians. We promise that if we get more precise weapons, we will only target military targets.”

5.  If no long-term arrangement is reached “within a few days” in Cairo, “on Israel’s terms,” reported Channel 10, then the army will move “to the next stage… a renewed ground offensive.”  This could take the form of incursions “in one or more areas… designed to harm Hamas” with the troops then “coming back out.”

6.  Haaretz’s Amos Harel noted that despite the killing of top Hamas commanders, and shortages of long-range missiles with no way to replenish them, Gaza is still in the fight for the long haul, with enough short range rockets and mortars to continue to make life hellish for southern residents in an ongoing war of attrition.

7.  An Israeli air strike destroyed a 13-story residential tower block in the center of Gaza City on Saturday and initial reports said 17 people were wounded, the Israeli army and Gaza health officials said.

The multi-story building housed an enormous Hamas command centre, IDF sources said, and added that only combatants were inside at the time of the air strike.

Click to watch video – Gaza Bishop: Hamas used Church to fire rockets




Can there be peace between Israel and Hamas

As I write representatives of Israel and Hamas are logged down in negotiations for a long lasting peace deal. Israel wants Gaza to be demilitarized and Hamas wants the siege to be lifted. It is unlikely that Israel will lift the siege (controlling the skies and sea coast of Gaza) and Hamas be willing to demilitarize.

Israel’s decision to control the skies and the coast in Gaza is to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza which are used by Hamas to attack Israel. Demilitarization will be against the stated goal of Hamas to exterminate Israel as illustrated in the Hamas Charter. The chances for an agreement based on the Egypt proposals are rather slim.

Should such an agreement somehow be reached, it will be a historic breakthrough for both Israel and Hamas. For Israel it will mean calm and a normal life and for the people of Gaza it will mean a higher standard of living. The millions of dollars currently spent on weapons and the building of tunnels could be utilized to bolster the economy to the benefit of all the people of Gaza.

I believe Israel is serious in reaching a long term seize fire agreement, but I am not so optimistic about Hamas. Israel is not interested in a long term war with Hamas, but for an agreement to be reached Hamas needs a change of heart and recognize Israel as a Jewish state. That is something Hamas has found difficult to do until now.

Israel cannot afford to go back to the status quo by living with rocket fire every few months. The demilitarization of Gaza is therefore the only realistic option and the international community should support this option. If Hamas has leaders with a long term vision, they will accept this proposal. It will allow them to build a seaport and an airport which will connect them with the rest of the world. Gaza could become a second Dubai. It will be a win-win situation for both Israel and Gaza.

Another scenario is also possible: the current round of hostilities end with no agreement at all. Currently, the world’s eyes are on the Middle East and specifically on the Israel/Gaza conflict and how the situation will develop. Let’s pray for the best outcome under difficult circumstances.

Click to watch video: Free Speech in Gaza

The War Israel never wanted

Operation Protective Edge entered its second week and it is feared that it will become a long and protracted war. Casualties mounted on both sides and on Sunday the UN Security Council called for an immediate end of hostilities. Although this conflict was forced upon Israel by the incessant firing of rockets from Gaza, the world media tend to blame Israel as the aggressor.

The beginning of the ground stage of the operation opened a dangerous phase of the conflict. A labyrinth of tunnels were found by the Israel Defence Forces, some of them booby trapped with explosives. A group of Hamas militants entered Israel through the tunnels on Sunday, but was killed by Israeli forces.

Another complicated matter is the launching of rockets from civilian areas and the storing of weapons and ammunition in schools and hospitals. UNRWA, a United Nations agency in Gaza found missiles in one of their schools during last week. Hamas want as many casualties as possible to extract the sympathy of the world.

Israel on the other hand, does its best to avoid civilian casualties, but due to the densely populated areas in Gaza and the tactics of Hamas, casualties will unfortunately be unavoidable. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) distributes pamphlets to warn civilians to leave an area before executing an attack. They even send text messages to warn people, something unheard of in modern warfare.

Operation Protective Edge stirred up a lot of emotions worldwide and pressure is building on Israel to accept a ceasefire agreement. The fact is Israel accepted a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt, but it was rejected by Hamas. Israel also accepted a temporary humanitarian cease fire asked by Hamas on Sunday, but was quickly violated by Hamas when they fired rockets on Israeli cities.

It is uncertain when and how this round of fighting with Hamas will end, but it is clear that the terror infrastructure of Hamas has to be destroyed before calm can be restored. It is the duty of any sovereign country to protect its citizens.

Watch Video:

Operation Protective Edge

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge (Tzuk Eitan in Hebrew) on Tuesday 8 July 2014, more than 600 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. The Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted more than 140 of these rockets. It can only be described as a miracle that only one Israeli died since the beginning of the conflict.

For the first time Hamas started to fire much more sophisticated and longer range rockets. However, the Iron Dome Defence system seems to be the game changer. The indiscriminate firing of rockets and the ongoing red alert sirens blaring is traumatic, especially for the children and the elderly who have to run for bomb shelters. Sometimes it happens many times in the day and through the night.

It is most unfortunate that innocent people got killed in Gaza, but it is also proven that Hamas use people as human shields, which can be constituted as a war crime. It is a well known fact that Hamas have rocket launch pads close to schools and mosques and even use these facilities as weapons storage facilities.

Sadly, as in previous conflicts with Hamas, we again see the utterly biased reporting in some media outlets in the world. Some adopted the Hamas narrative that Israel started the conflict by firing first. In fact Israel showed maximum restraint by sending a message to Hamas that calm would be met with calm. Only after they rejected the conciliatory stance of Israel and increasing the volley of rockets, the Israeli government decided to start the defensive operation to stop the firing of rockets from Gaza.

On Saturday rockets were fired from Lebanon and the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) responded with artillery fire. Also on Saturday, two rockets were fired from the Sinai. This is a new development clearly designed to support the efforts of Hamas and other radical groups in Gaza.  Another new development is the use of drones by Hamas. One such drone was shot down over Ashdod by a Patriot missile on Sunday.

According to IDF statistics, 70 trucks carrying food and general supplies crossed into Gaza on Sunday. 120 tons of gas and 376,000 liters of fuel also entered Gaza at the border crossing with Israel despite ongoing hostilities and continued rocket fire into Israel.

At this stage it seems that Hamas wants to escalate the conflict and it might be inevitable for Israel to decide on a ground incursion to find and destroy the terror infrastructure. Nobody knows how this conflict will end, but it certainly poses a very dangerous situation which could affect the whole region.

Watch Video: Civilians in the line of fire