You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:
In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) The results of the Hamas / Israel conflict in the Gaza
2) The current status of the Israel / PLO peace process
Israel just concluded Operation Pillar of Defense against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The operation lasted from November 14 – 21. It concluded with a truce agreement between Israel and Hamas brokered by Egypt with the influence of the United States.
The background leading up to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip is as follows. According to a summary by the Israel Security Agency, 92 separate attacks against Israel by Hamas occurred in October, with a total 171 rockets and mortar shells fired against Israel. On 24 October, 80 rockets and mortars were fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel over a 24-hour period. On November 8, a smuggling tunnel exploded in southern Gaza near Israeli soldiers on the Israeli side of the fence as a group of Israeli soldiers were in the middle of an operation to uncover it. On 10 November, militants fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli Jeep on routine patrol near Israel’s side of the border, wounding four soldiers, one of whom is in critical condition. On November 11, Hamas fired over 100 rockets into Israel over a 24-hour period. Hamas rockets fired into southern Israel caused the Color Red siren to sound in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gan Yavne and surrounding areas causing Israelis within seven kilometers of the Gaza Strip to remain near protected areas. School was canceled in the affected areas. According to the Israeli government, Operation Pillar of Defense began in response to these three events.
Israel’s Ehud Barak said that the operation’s objectives were “strengthening Israel’s deterrence against Hamas, damaging Hamas’s rocket arsenal, damaging and hurting Hamas as an organization and minimizing injury to the Israeli civilians. The operation started on November 14 with the killing of Ahmed Jabari, top leader of the Gaza military wing of Hamas. During the operation, Israel launched more than 1,450 air, tank, and naval strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip during the operation, including rocket launching pads, weapons depots, individual militants, and buildings of the Hamas regime. Hamas fired over 1,000 rockets against Israel.
The Palestinian militant groups fired over 1,456 Iranian Fajr-5, Russian Grad rockets, Qassams and mortars into Rishon LeZion, Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon and other population centers; Tel Aviv was hit for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War, and rockets were aimed at Jerusalem. By 19 November, over 252 Israelis had been physically injured in rocket attacks and thirty more had been treated for acute stress reaction. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system had intercepted about 409 rockets, another 142 rockets had fallen on Gaza itself. A bomb attack against a Tel Aviv bus that wounded over 20 civilians received the “blessing” of Hamas.
The United States, United Kingdom, Canada and other Western countries expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself and condemned the Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel. The European Union’s position came in a statement from foreign ministers which represented the 27 European Union countries which stated the following:
“The European Union strongly condemns the rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip, which Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza must cease immediately. There can be no justification for the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians. Israel has the right to protect itself from these kind of attacks.” However, the European Union said that Israel only has the right to proportional self-defense.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “Hamas bears principal responsibility for the current crisis. I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups. This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza.”
President Barack Obama said: “The precipitating event here…that’s causing the current crisis…was an ever-escalating number of missiles; they were landing not just in Israeli territory, but in areas that are populated. And there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. And we will continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself.”
Iran, Egypt, Turkey and several other Arab and Muslim countries condemned the Israeli operation.
The Israeli army says that out of 177 Palestinians were killed, 120 of them militants. The Israeli air force says that it took all possible measures to avoid harming Palestinian civilians, utilizing precision strikes and issuing preemptive warnings to Palestinian residents. The Israeli army disseminated warning leaflets instructing civilians to avoid areas used by Hamas for firing rockets and also phoned residents in warnings. Targets were deliberately missed on the first strike to allow the non-combatants to vacate the area and missions were aborted because of a civilian presence.
Four Israeli civilians and one soldier have been killed in Palestinian rocket attacks. Furthermore, over 250 Israelis were injured.
On 21 November, Mohamed Kamel Amr, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, and Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, announced a ceasefire. According to the agreement, Israel and all Palestinian militant groups agreed to halt “all hostilities.” For the Palestinians, that means an end to Israeli airstrikes and assassinations of wanted militants. For Israel, it brings a halt to rocket fire and attempts at cross-border incursions from Gaza.
Egypt is the sponsor of the agreement and shall receive assurances of each party’s commitment to the agreed deal. The Gaza cease-fire deal elevated the role and status of Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to be a major player in the Middle East conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. The Arab Spring of 2011 has produced an alliance of Sunni Islamic states and movements, including Hamas, which Egypt plays a central role.
By elevating Egypt as a key player in the agreement, the Obama administration seems to be revealing their Mideast strategy that attempts to deal with the results of the Arab Spring. The current goal is to build a Sunni axis that will stand against the radical Shiite axis headed by Iran.
US Secretary of Defense, Hillary Clinton praised Morsi’s efforts by saying: “This is a critical moment for the region. Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”
Morsi is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most powerful political group and Hamas’ own parent organization. In ideology, the Brotherhood supports the use of force against Israel to liberate “Muslim lands.” Only two months ago, the Brotherhood’s supreme leader, Mohammed Badie, proclaimed that regaining Jerusalem can “only come through holy jihad.” The group opposes Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
Egypt’s task is to ensuring that militant rocket fire into Israel stops and that Israel allows the opening of the long-blockaded Gaza Strip and stops its own attacks against Hamas. However, during the fighting, Morsi and his aides sided openly with Hamas accusing Israel of starting the assault and condemning its bombardment. During the days of Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas promised to “continue carrying the rifle…until the liberation of Palestine and the defeat of the occupation.
Morsi has established his position as a regional player and a partner of the US administration. Because of his role, he improves his chances of receiving billions from the West despite the fact that it has become Hamas’ sponsor, does not recognize Israel and refuses to speak with its government,
Can Morsi be trusted? On November 22, Morsi issued a domestic presidential decree on Egyptian state television stating that any challenges to his decrees, laws and decisions were banned. In response, a prominent Egyptian opposition leader called Morsi a “new pharaoh”.
The natural relations between Israel and the Sunni Islamist bloc are of conflict. For now, it is only working because of Israeli military superiority and Egypt is economically dependent on Western aid mostly from the United States and thus the US has influence over Egypt regarding the matter.
After the ceasefire was announced, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Operation Pillar of Defense had been successful and thanked US President Obama for his “unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend itself.” Netanyahu added that Israel and the US will cooperate to stop the smuggling of weapons from Iran into the Gaza strip.
However, Netanyahu also warned that “we are ready to act should the quiet be violated.” He went on to say: “Now we are giving the cease-fire a chance. This is right thing to do for the State of Israel at this time but we are also prepared for the possibility that the cease-fire will not be upheld and we will know how to act if need be. The point is how to prevent Hamas from re-arming. If they re-arm, they will take risks. If they have weapons, they will use them.”
Netanyahu discussed this matter with US President Barack Obama and together they decided that Israel and the USA “would work together to fight the smuggling of weapons to the terror organizations – weapons, virtually all of which come from Iran.”
Netanyahu agreed to a ceasefire on Nov. 21, after President Barack Obama personally pledged to start deploying US troops in the Egyptian Sinai next week. Obama’s pledge addressed Israel’s primary concern of the conflict which is the total stoppage of the flow of Iranian arms and missiles to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Israel Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said that Operation Pillar of Defense achieved of its objectives explaining that Israel attacked “everything that moves in the Strip,” referring to “terror infrastructure, tunnels… weapons caches, launching sites and strategic facilities.”
Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that despite the government’s decision to agree to a cease-fire, Israel would “eventually need to overthrow the Hamas regime” in Gaza. He said that a ground operation in the Gaza would entail reoccupying the Gaza Strip, and partaking in such an effort only two months before Israeli elections on January 22 was the wrong move and that the occupation of Gaza and the overthrow of Hamas is a process that would take more than four months.”
In the face of this US-Israel-Egyptian understanding, Hamas cannot credibly claim to have won guarantees to force Israel to end the Gaza blockade. Instead, Gaza’s Hamas rulers will be forced to watch as US troops in Sinai, just across its border, break up the smuggling of weapons intended for the Gaza Strip.
Hamas reacted to the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire agreement by declaring “victory” over Israel. Ahmed Bahr, a senior Hamas official, welcomed the cease-fire agreement.
“The resistance groups have achieved a historic victory and paved the way for the battle of liberating Palestine,” he said.
Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said that Israel had “failed in all its goals.” He also said, “I would like to thank Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi… Egypt acted responsibly and understood the demands of the resistance and the Palestinian people.”
Regarding the peace process, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s request to refrain from asking the UN to upgrade the status of a Palestinian state to become a non-member state. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said:
“President Abbas told Clinton that we have made a decision to go to the UN General Assembly. The Palestinians are not interested in a confrontation with the US or any other country. We are practicing our right to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital. This will happen on November 29.”
The fighting between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip is most likely going to cause Mahmood Abbas to have a greater desire to bring the Palestinian request to be recognized at the UN General Assembly as a state based upon 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital wanting to make himself and the PA more relevant after being overshadowed by Hamas during the eight-day crisis with Israel.
In an interview with CNN, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said “I accept a Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital, with a Palestinian right of return.” Pushed about his party’s refusal to recognize Israel, Mashaal said such a declaration could only be made once a Palestinian state has been created.
While opposing a Palestinian bid at the UN General Assembly, the US is urging Israel to not allow construction in the area known as E-1 which is located between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim as a possible response to the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition on November 29.
Finally, France indicated that they would support a Palestinian bid for recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN on November 29. If this reports proves accurate, how will this influence other EU states ? How will this influence the position of the United States and Britain after the vote is taken? Will this cause Obama to support a PLO state at the United Nations Security Council after November 29 ?
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Wikipedia Encyclopedia: Operation Pillar of Defense
2) Gaza Smuggling Tunnel Explodes During IDF Operation
3) Gaza: Anti-tank missile hits IDF jeep; 4 soldiers injured
4) Gaza groups pound Israel with over 100 rockets
5) Israel hammers Hamas in Gaza offensive
6) Wider offensive and possible ground operation on the table, as cabinet okays reserves call-up
7) EU: Israel has right to proportional self-defense
8) Israel and Hamas Agree to Gaza Peace Deal
9) Gaza deal seals major role for Egypt’s president
10) Gaza confrontation showcases new Sunni bloc
11) The Sunni axis
12) Egypt’s Morsi: statesman abroad, a ‘pharaoh’ at home?
13) PM Netanyahu threatens action if truce fails
14) Obama’s pledge of US troops to Sinai next week won Israel’s nod for ceasefire
15) Gantz says IDF attacked all possible terror targets
16) FM: Israel will eventually need to overthrow Hamas
17) Hamas says ‘Israel failed in its goals’, thanks Iran
18) Hamas declares ‘victory’ after cease-fire
19) Abbas to Clinton: UN statehood bid to move forward
20) Mashaal: I accept a Palestinian state on ’67 borders
21) After Gaza, focus turns to Palestinian bid at UN
22) France indicates support for Palestinian UN vote
From a Biblical prophetic perspective, the reason why the God of Israel would allow these events to happen is because it will result in the end of the exile of the house of Jacob and the reunification of the 12 tribes of Israel (Ephraim and Judah).
We will to be “watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem” and we will not rest until the God of Israel makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62).
Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l