Archive for August, 2014

August 30, 2014: Weekly 5 minute update (Audio Only)

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:

1) Listen to the audio

In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:

1) The current status of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip

Hamas started launching rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel on July 8. After 50 days of fighting, the 12th ceasefire between the two sides was agreed upon on August 26. Over the course of the conflict, Hamas fired almost 4,000 rockets at Israel including some 600 rockets launched from close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities. The ceasefire agreement was brokered by Egypt. It is open-ended. It is very close to the proposal that Israel accepted and Hamas rejected on July 15, the eighth day of the fighting. The outline of the agreement is as follows:

Immediate steps:

• Hamas and the other terrorist groups in Gaza halt all rocket and mortar fire into Israel.

• Israel stops all military action, including air strikes, ground operations and targeted killings.

• The Palestinian Authority will lead coordination of the reconstruction effort in Gaza with international donors, including the European Union, Qatar, Turkey and Norway. Saudi Arabia is also likely to be a major donor, with the expectation in Jerusalem being that unlike Qatar, it will take pains to ensure that its funds will not be directed to Hamas, but rather to build up the PA.

• Israel is expected to narrow the security buffer – a no-go area for Palestinians that runs along the inside of the Gaza border – reducing it from 300 meters to 100 meters if the truce holds. The move will allow Palestinians more access to farmland close to the border.

• Israel will extend the fishing limit off Gaza’s coast from 3 miles to 6 miles, with the possibility of widening it gradually if the truce holds. Ultimately, the Palestinians want to return to a full 12-mile international allowance.

• Israel agrees to open the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings to the supervised transfer of goods, including humanitarian aid and reconstruction equipment, into the Gaza Strip.

Channel 2 reported that a three-person committee made up of Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, UN Mideast envoy Robert Serry and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will supervise the process and determine what goods are allowed in.

Israel is demanding the tight monitoring of imports of construction materials like cement and cast iron to make sure they are used to rebuild homes, not destroyed terror tunnels, as well as ensuring that weapons, ammunition and any “dual-use” goods are prevented from entering Gaza.

Longer term issues to be discussed:

• Israel will demand that the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Gaza be linked to the enclave’s demilitarization, as called for under previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

Jerusalem’s formula will be that the extent of building above ground in Gaza must be linked to the degree to which “underground” Gaza is dismantled.

• Hamas wants Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners rounded up in Judea and Samaria following the abduction and murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah in June. Among those arrested were some 60 prisoners freed in the Gilad Schalit deal, and 37 Palestinian parliamentarians, including 35 affiliated with Hamas.

• Israel will demand the return of the remains of slain IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.

• Hamas wants to rebuild an airport and seaport in Gaza, as well as the transfer of funds to allow it to pay 40,000 police, government workers and other administrative staff who have largely been without salaries since late last year. The funds were frozen by the Palestinian Authority.

The ceasefire agreement was approved by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was not put to a Cabinet vote. Netanyahu explained why he decided to opt for a ceasefire with Hamas as opposed to continuing the campaign and removing Hamas from power. Netanyahu said while it is still possible that the IDF will eventually topple Hamas altogether, “today, when I look around and I see Al Qaeda on the [border] fence, and ISIS galloping into Jordan and already in Lebanon, and in Lebanon there is Hezbollah that is a little larger than Hamas, and Iran that backs it, and Iran [itself] – and I say, in the face of these combined threats, we set a goal in the Israeli Cabinet, to deal Hamas a very severe blow, and we did this, with the thousand terrorists we killed, the senior commanders, the tunnels, the rockets… I decided not to put all of our military resources into removing Hamas from power and not be able to still have military resources to fight some of Israel’s other threats in the region.” Netanyahu said that once the tunnel threat had been dealt with, Israel pulled out the IDF forces from Gaza because he didn’t want soldiers getting killed and abducted. “Why do I need to go in? If I can hit them from the air and get the effect of grinding them without risking soldiers’ lives, why should I go in?”

Netanyahu said that the US dealt with a similar situation in the past, with Fallujah in Iraq. Fallujah is one-tenth the size of Gaza, he noted, and the US fought valiantly against the Islamists there, and thousands of Iraqis were killed. But after the US pulled out of Fallujah, the Islamists took over again. In order to prevent this from happening in Gaza after Israel would have toppled Hamas, he explained, the Israeli army would have to remain in the Gaza and this would be very costly to Israel. He said that Hamas has been “ground,” it is isolated, and will not be able to rearm. He vowed that he will not allow “drizzles” of rocket fire from Gaza, and these will be answered with heavy IDF fire.

As a result of the ceasefire, several senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders appeared in public Among them was Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of the Hamas political wing, and senior Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed al-Hindi who gave a rousing victory speech to thousands of people gathered in a square in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood. “We’re going to build our port and our airport, and if they attack the port, they attack the port. But anyone who attacks the airport will have their airport attacked again,” Zahar said. Zahar also said that in addition to rebuilding Gaza, Hamas would continue “arming itself and developing its resistance capacity.”

Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that “there is no chance” that Hamas will receive a seaport in Gaza which was one of its demands as a precondition for a ceasefire. He said: ” “there is no chance that Hamas will receive a seaport – it is not in Israel’s interest, it is not an Egyptian interest, it’s not even in the interest of the Palestinian Authority.” From a military perspective the victory is clear – everything the IDF touched, it defeated the other side,” said Ya’alon, who added that the military achievements led to a ceasefire which is good for Israel and bad for Hamas, seeing as Hamas was forced to accept the Egyptian proposal over the Qatari initiative which was more favorable to Hamas.

However, Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized the open-ended ceasefire deal reached between Israel and Hamas and said that Israel should not make political agreements with Hamas. He said: “As long as Hamas controls Gaza it is impossible to guarantee the safety of Israel and no accord can be reached – be it political or military. We must not and cannot trust such despicable murderers. Therefore we object to the ceasefire which offers Hamas the ability to continue to grow strong and fight future battles with Israel whenever it feels like. Israel must make sure that Hamas makes no political gains from this ceasefire.

Israel’s Finance Minister Yair Lapid said that the military operation against Hamas “cannot end with a ceasefire. The operation needs to end only after Gaza has been demilitarized. We cannot limit ourselves to easy achievements. The test of leadership is to find hope in every situation and to turn into something practical. The political process (with the Palestinians) must be on the table. We need a control mechanism which will lead to an eventual disengagement (between Israel and the Palestinians), and we need it now more than ever.”

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that an indefinite cease-fire agreement reached between Israel and Hamas in Gaza “is an opportunity, not a certainty. We are approaching the next phase with our eyes wide open. We have been down this road before and we are all aware of the challenges ahead,” Kerry said. “Today’s agreement comes after many hours and days of intensive discussions about how a sustainable ceasefire might provide the space and the opportunity to address long-term issues.” Kerry said that “certain bedrock outcomes” are minimal requirements for such a long-term solution, including a guarantee for Israel that terrorist attacks, rocket firings, and tunnel construction will cease, as well as the establishment of full economic and social opportunities for Palestinians, and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

As a result, the US government is working toward presenting to the UN Security Council a comprehensive proposal for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. The proposal calls for the disarmament of all militant and terror groups in the Hamas-controlled Gaza leaving the Palestinian Authority the only armed force. Under the terms of the proposal, all tunnels between the Gaza Strip and both Israel and Egypt will be destroyed as well. The proposal is set to be presented to the Security Council following negotiations over key issues between Israeli and Palestinian representatives which are scheduled for September in Cairo. The issues to be discussed include Hamas’s demands for a wider lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip — imposed by Israel and Egypt to prevent Hamas importing weaponry — as well as for a port and an airport, and the release of prisoners, as well as Israel’s calls to demilitarize Gaza.

However, Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal threatened to resume fighting Israel if the Hamas demands were not met and said that Gaza will never disarm its “sacred” weapons. “The rockets and tunnels exist; if the negotiations fail and there is a need, we will return to war until we reach our goals,” he said. “The issue is not up for negotiations. No one can disarm Hamas and its resistance,” he stated.

French President Francois Hollande said that Europe needed had to play a bigger role to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and could no longer just play the role of a “bank window” for reconstruction after each war. The European Union is the biggest aid donor to the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s biggest economic partner, accounting for almost a third of its exports and imports.”For a solution to finally be reached, the United States’ role will be decisive,” Hollande said. “We have to go towards a progressive lifting of the blockade and the demilitarization of the Gaza” he said.  Hollande said that once the ceasefire was consolidated the path to peace would have to be taken as quickly as possible. “Everyone knows the conditions: a democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side with an Israeli state living in security.”

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the ceasefire agreement “might have” presented an opportunity for a diplomatic breakthrough in the region although it was incumbent on the Palestinian Authority to “give Hamas a divorce” in order for that to become a reality. “Today there might be a new set of circumstances that enable us to act in a way that on the one hand we could advance our security interests and also launch a responsible diplomatic process on the basis of this new reality,” Netanyahu said. However, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would “have to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas,” meaning that he would need to dismantle the unity government in Ramallah that has Hamas’ official backing. “If he chooses the path of peace, and I think he understands today that he needs to choose that over Hamas, which not only calls for our destruction but also wishes to topple him,” Netanyahu said. “Hamas recently tried to remove Abbas from power in the West Bank and Israel prevented it from happening. Abbas needs to choose between peace with Israel or Hamas,” Netanyahu said. “It’s one of the two. I can only hope” that Abbas “gives Hamas a divorce,” Netanyahu said.

Israel Justice Minster Tzipi Livni and Israel’s chief negotiator in the peace process with the Palestinians said that Israel must either renew peace talks with the Palestinian Authority or brace for a diplomatic backlash from the international community. In this post-war reality, “either we resume negotiations with the Palestinians to reach a permanent agreement, winning the world’s support, or we will find ourselves isolated, talking about not wanting to talk to those who have an agreement with Hamas [a reference to the unity pact with the Palestinian Authority], while having an agreement with Hamas [Israel’s recent ceasefire deal negotiated in Cairo]” she said. Livni criticized PA President Mahmoud Abbas, saying he was difficult to negotiate with and took actions in the international sphere she did not agree with, like threatening to join the International Criminal Court in the Hague, but stressed that if the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to engage him in talks, it would face “a diplomatic or legal intifada following this [military] operation.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas have agreed on a three-phase plan that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state. The plan calls for giving the United States a period of four months to draw the borders of the Palestinian state and win Israel’s recognition for a PLO state. If the two sides agree on the plan, they would launch immediate negotiations with a defined timetable during which Israel would be requested to present a map showing its own borders. If the plan is rejected, the Palestinians, together with the Arab countries, would ask the United Nations Security Council to “evict Israel from the land of Palestine.” If this move also fails, the Palestinian leadership would resort to the third option, which is joining international treaties and conventions, including the International Criminal Court, in order to file “war crime” charges against Israel. Abbas said he would present his initiative to US Secretary of State John Kerry during their meeting in early September.

Turning to the International Criminal Court became an option for Abbas in 2012, after the UN General Assembly recognized “Palestine” in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands captured by Israel in 1967, as a non-member observer state. The upgrade to a state opened the door to requesting the court’s jurisdiction in Palestine.

Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office denied a report suggesting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders and to the establishment of a Palestinian state in those territories. In an interview with Palestine TV, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that Netanyahu agreed to establish a Palestinian state on land Israel captured in the 1967 war and that the only remaining step was to set a border. Abbas said that he would demand from Israel and the US to outline specific borders for a Palestinian state. If Israel does not respond, “we will join the International Criminal Court” he said. “We are willing to wait a day, a week or a month for a Palestinian state” Abbas said, “but not 20 more years.”

According to Nabil Sha’ath, a former Palestinian Authority foreign minister and chief PLO negotiator, the PLO will submit an application to the UN Security Council on September 15 demanding a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines. The Arab League will meet on September 5 to discuss how to support the Palestinian plan. If the request is turned down, the PLO will apply to join the International Criminal Court. “Taking the case to the ICC is conditional upon the UN Security Council response to our request,” Sha’ath said.

Hamas has signed a pledge to back any Palestinian bid to join the International Criminal Court. In July, Abbas said he would not make a move without the written consent of all Palestinian factions. Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas leader, said that “Hamas has signed the paper” of support Abbas had requested. A senior Palestinian official has said Abbas likely would wait for the findings of a UN-appointed commission of inquiry into possible Gaza war crimes – due by March – before turning to the court.

Finally, Israel chief peace negotiator, Tzipi Livni warned against the threats of Abbas saying that Abbas “will have to understand a Palestinian state will not be established in UN institutions. Whatever the Palestinian people can achieve, they can achieve in the negotiating room. We need a comprehensive diplomatic process,” she stated.

An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Outline of Protective Edge cease-fire agreement with Hamas
2) Netanyahu on Gaza Pullout: We Didn’t Want a Fallujah
3) Ya’alon: ‘No Chance’ Hamas will Get a Seaport
4) FM Lieberman slams Gaza truce: No accord with Hamas
5) Lapid: Gaza op not over until Gaza demilitarized
6) US reportedly pushing Gaza demilitarization at UN
7) ‘We will never disarm,’ vows Hamas chief
8) Abbas blames Hamas for prolonged battle with Israel
9) Hollande: Europe must work towards lifting blockade, demilitarizing Gaza
10) Gaza operation could present opening for diplomatic breakthrough, Netanyahu says
11) Livni: Resume peace talks or brace for diplomatic intifada
12) Report: New UN Resolution Demands Talks Based on 1949 Lines
13) Report: Abbas, Hamas agree on plan for independent Palestinian state
14) PA to tell UN: Force Israel out of W. Bank, or we’ll seek war crimes charges in The Hague
15) Abbas, Mashaal seek UN timetable to ‘end Israeli occupation’
16) Hamas backs International Criminal Court bid
17) PM dismisses claim he agreed to state on 1967 lines
18) Livni, Lapid dismiss Abbas plan

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,

Eddie Chumney
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l

August 23, 2014: Weekly 5 minute update (Audio Only)

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:

1) Listen to the audio

In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:

1) The current status of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip

Hamas leader Khaled Mashal confessed that Hamas militants were behind the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the Hebron area in June. He said: “Our view is that soldiers and settlers on the West Bank are aggressors, and they are illegally living in this occupied and stolen land. And the right to resist is the right of Palestinians.” This was the beginning of the summer conflict between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel which escalated when Hamas starting launching rockets at Israel on July 8. Furthermore, Jibril Rajouba, a senior Palestinian Authority (PA) official said that the Palestinians have made a “political decision” to support Arab terrorists “slaughtering” Jews living in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. He said: “… our political decision is resistance in the occupied territories in order to bring an end to the occupation [using] all forms of resistance” Rajoub said. Also, Fatah’s “military wing,” the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, announced a full return to terrorism, declaring “open war” on Israel. This position is consistent with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) charter of 1968, which calls for “armed struggle” and “armed revolution,” against Israel declaring “armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine,” and calling on local Arabs to “be prepared for the armed struggle.”

So far, Hamas has fired over 3,000 rockets from the Gaza into Israel. For this reason, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to fight Hamas and other Gaza terror groups until Israel was safe from the threat of missile attack. He said that the IDF campaign “will continue until we are sure that Israel’s residents have quiet.” He said that no terrorist target was off-limits, and accused Hamas’s leaders and gunmen of “hiding behind Gaza’s residents” — using them as human shields — and thus being responsible “for any harm that comes to them.” While Israel did everything to protect its citizens, he said, and had “spent billions to protect the homefront” in recent years, Gaza’s terror groups deliberately put Gazans “in harm’s way.” Israel does its utmost not to harm Gaza’s civilians while targeting the terrorists, whereas Hamas targets Israel’s civilians, he said.

Netanyahu said he had made this point in conversations with a series of world leaders, including Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin and that all the world leaders with whom he spoke understood Israel’s imperative to act. “No state would allow its citizens to be targeted without a harsh response,” he said. He also vowed that “no international pressure will prevent us from acting with all force against a terrorist organization that seeks to destroy us” and that he would take whatever action was necessary to protect Israelis. He said he had encountered “lots of good will” from world leaders, and that he had asked them, “Would you tolerate missile attacks on London, Washington, Paris, Berlin and Moscow? Of course not.” Netanyahu said Israel was “weighing all possibilities” for expanding the campaign against Hamas in Gaza, including the possibility of a major ground offensive. “We’ve prepared for all options… That’s what I told the army to do, and it has done so… My uppermost consideration is to restore quiet for all of Israel’s citizens in all of Israel’s cities. I will do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal. Beyond that, I cannot go into details.”

But at the same time, Israel had to ensure that “we don’t get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria” — the biblical name for the West Bank. Amid the current conflict, he elaborated, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan” — a reference to the Jordan Valley and the West Bank — as Kerry had urged during a US-led peace effort that collapsed in April. Netanyahu said, “I told John Kerry and General Allen, the Americans’ expert: We live here, I live here, I know what we need to ensure the security of Israel’s people.”

He said the current conflict also underlined the importance of retaining territory, noting that Hamas had tunneled relentlessly under Gaza’s borders with both Egypt, for smuggling purposes, and Israel, for terrorism purposes. “If we were to pull out of Judea and Samaria, like they tell us to, there would be a possibility of thousands of tunnels” being dug by terrorists to attack Israel, he said. There were 1,200 tunnels dug in a 14-kilometer stretch between Egypt and Gaza alone, which Egypt had sealed, he noted. “Adjacent territory has huge importance,” Netanyahu said, and could be used by terrorists to dig tunnels and to fire rockets. The closer terrorists can get to Israel’s borders, he said, the more rockets they fire — as the current conflict was proving. “At present we have a problem with the territory called Gaza,” the prime minister said. But he noted that the West Bank is 20 times the size of Gaza, and vowed that he was not prepared “to create another 20 Gazas” in the West Bank.

At the height of Operation Protective Edge, the IDF called up some 86,000 reservists to fight a ground war with Hamas in the Gaza. So far, Israel has agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas over 10 times. Egypt has been holding ceasefire talks with both sides. Recently, there was a six day ceasefire. After that, Hamas launched over 130 rockets into Israel over a 24 hour period. Later, Hamas launched nearly 170 rockets in a single day. The gulf state of Qatar has been encouraging Hamas to continue its fight with Israel. Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, has been living in Qatar since 2012. An official from the Palestinian Authority said that Qatar “has no interest” in seeing Egyptian-led talks succeed and that Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood are working together to undermine Egypt.  In fact, Qatar threatened to expel Mashaal if Hamas accepted an Egyptian peace proposal for a ceasefire.

In their air strikes in the Gaza Strip, Israel has been targeting terrorist leaders. In one instance, Israel killed an Islamic Jihad brigade commander. At another time, Israel killed two very senior Hamas terrorists and one lower ranking terrorist. With information obtained by the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency], an IAF aircraft fired missiles at a building in Rafah that housed Ra’ad Atar and Muhammad Abu Shamalah, killing them both, security forces said. A third Hamas terrorist, Muhammed Barhoum, described by security sources as an abettor to the senior Hamas members, was also killed in the strike. “This strike represents a very significant intelligence achievement, and an intelligence infiltration,” a security source said. The attack came after the Shin Bet received intelligence on the location of the terrorists, security forces added, describing the targets as men who were senior and central members of Hamas’s military wing.

As a result, Hamas executed 18 Palestinians for allegedly collaborating with Israel during the Gaza war. The victims, their heads covered and hands tied, were shot dead by masked gunmen dressed in black in front of a crowd of worshippers outside a mosque after prayers. Near the scene of the execution, Hamas’ men attached a note serving as a general indictment for the ‘collaborators’: “They provided the enemy with information about the whereabouts of fighters, tunnels of resistance, bombs, houses of fighters and places of rockets, and the occupation bombarded these areas killing a number of fighters… Therefore, the ruling of revolutionary justice was handed upon him.”

Nevertheless, Hamas officials remained defiant despite the assassination of three of the organization’s top commanders. “The Palestinian people have prepared themselves for hundreds of years to fight the enemy until the end,” Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal said. “We won’t get tired of fighting after a month, a year or many years. There will be no return to negotiations in Egypt before we have ensured favorable circumstances that will force the enemy to meet the demands of the Palestinians.” Mashaal said that the Palestinians’ top demand was the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was critical of Israel’s willingness to discuss ceasefire terms with Hamas in Egypt. He said, “The government policy of ‘calm will be met with calm’ is fundamentally wrong. It means that Hamas is the one that takes the initiative and the one that decides when, where, and how many rockets it fires on Israeli civilians, while we are making do with reacting. Even if our reaction is a strong one, it is still a reaction. Hamas has control over the intensity of the fighting and it fires whenever it is convenient for it to interrupt the daily routine of Israeli civilians, particularly those living in the South. We need to talk and negotiate with Hamas only when it has surrendered. We now must seek a quick and decisive end to Hamas. Israel must continue to fight Hamas “until Hamas waves the white flag.” Furthermore, Israel must aim for a complete demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. “That means Hamas would have no capability to fire missiles at Israel, no capability to manufacture missiles, and no capability to build tunnels,” Lieberman said. “The proposals we have heard thus far whereby there is no deal, no agreement, and no unequivocal commitment by the Palestinians to halt their fire means that we are in for a war of attrition which is something that the State of Israel cannot be dragged into.”

Naftali Bennett, the leader of the political party, Jewish Home, said “when you want to defeat a terror organization, you reach a decisive victory. When we hold peace talks with a terrorist organization, we get more terror. Hamas thinks that rocket fire helps them reach their goals in talks and so they fire even during a ceasefire. Rockets are not an accident as far as we’re concerned, it’s systematic.” Bennett went on to say that “Only a severe response, like any sovereign nation responds to rocket fire on its territory, will be able to stop the deterioration (of the situation). Sooner or later, Israel will need to subdue Hamas, there’s no way to avoid it.”

Israel’s Finance Minister Yair Lapid reiterated his position that Israel must not end, ‘Operation Protective Edge’ before ensuring the disarmament of the terror infrastructure in the Gaza and before the transfer of international funds to Gaza is monitored and supervised, so Israel doesn’t find itself in another round of hostilities soon. He said: “Any future arrangement must include the dismantling of Hamas’ terror infrastructure in Gaza and complete control over the funds meant to rehabilitate the Gaza. For that to happen, I am promoting a regional conference to give a wide international cover to achieving these objectives. Without a diplomatic move, without wide international support, any attempt to reach an agreement will be the beginning of the countdown to another round of violence.”

Israel Housing Minister Uri Ariel said that “we must strike the Hamas enemy until we achieve victory. It can’t be that we’ll be responsible for halting fire while they’re responsible for firing.”

Israel Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, said: “The targeted killing of any person who deals in terror is not only legitimate but desirable in my eyes. Throughout these periods I always support the targeted killings of terror leaders.” Livni said she opposed the indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in Egypt. “I do not negotiate with Hamas. I do not believe they would agree to it, and I would not deal with them but with international officials.” She said: “the fundamental question is whether the fire causes us to pay a higher price even when it ceases; in my eyes, that’s a strategic question. We must not let them think that the fire leads Israel to pay up. We must continue to deter them and only then will they understand that they cannot achieve more by using terror – that they are losing assets.” Livni stressed that “as long as Hamas does not fundamentally change its internal ideology, we are dealing with a terror organization. There is an ideological, Islamist terror organization which does not recognize our right to exist here. I see the public is unified in the understanding of what needs to be done.”

In any event, after 50 days of intense hostilities, Israel and the Palestinians reached a framework agreement resembling the understandings reached after Operation Pillar of Defense several years ago. Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation in the Egyptian ceasefire said that a long-term ceasefire was agreed upon between Hamas and Israel on August 26. Under the agreement, there will be an immediate easing of restrictions on the two main Gaza border crossings between Israel and Gaza to allow in aid and reconstruction supplies. Significantly, construction materials needed to repair the water network, electricity grid and mobile phone networks will be allowed in along with humanitarian aid, food and medical supplies. Construction materials have in the past been used to build terror tunnels to attack Israel, and therefore earlier reports signaled they would not be allowed in until the ceasefire had proven itself for a set amount of time. All of this will take place under heavy Israeli supervision. The agreement also calls for the lifting of the Gaza blockade but with no clear timeline.

As for the Gaza fishing zone, restrictions will be lifted immediately to extend the zone to six nautical miles from the shore, to be extended later to 12 miles. Over the past eight years, Israel has set a six-nautical-mile limit for Gaza’s fishermen when tensions were lower, restricting it to three miles when hostilities have escalated.

The ceasefire deal likewise would have future discussions held about a swap of terrorists jailed in Israel for the bodies of IDF soldiers Second Lt. Hadar Goldin and First Sgt. Oron Shaul hy”d, who were killed in the operation. Hamas wants hundreds of prisoners released. They additionally demanded the release of roughly 60 terrorists who were freed in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal and later re-arrested, some of whom quickly returned to murderous acts of terror. Hamas is also calling for the release of 37 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members, all but two of whom are Hamas members, along with the 26 terrorists promised in the fourth batch of releases as part of the Israel-PA peace talks that broke down in April. The Hamas demand for a Gaza sea and airport will be discussed in Egypt within the next month according to the agreement.

What will Israel get from all of this? The one major Israeli demand has been a demilitarization of Gaza, which has emerged as a terror haven since Israel’s withdrawal in 2005. Apparently Israel has linked the lifting of the Gaza blockade and reconstructing the area with the disarmament of the terror groups. However, the Palestinian delegation flatly refused this lone demand. Apparently Israel will raise demilitarization and the limitation on construction materials and weapons in the next stage of talks to be held in the coming month.

The Prime Minister’s Office claimed that all cabinet ministers had been informed of the developments and that there was no legal reason to bring the cabinet to a vote. However, the Cabinet appeared to be split on the deal, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Interior Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan opposing the decision, and supporting further military action in the Gaza. Israel Economic Minister, Naftali Bennett, said that Israel cabinet members hadn’t been consulted about the deal. Instead, they were updated on the decision by telephone.

A senior Israeli defense source said that “Israel got what it wanted.” According to the source, “Hamas was beaten into accepting the Egyptian initiative though it opposed the plan from the start. In recent days there was tremendous pressure within Hamas to reach a ceasefire, as a result of the heavy price paid by the Gaza Strip and organization itself.” Israeli officials said that Hamas received “the worst blow in its history.” Israeli sources further noted that the IDF struck 5,200 terror targets in Gaza. The army also said that some 1,000 terrorists were killed during the operation. The operation also bolstered Israel’s international legitimacy, “because of the fact that we assented to 11 ceasefires.” It will take 10 years to rehabilitate the Gaza. Hamas was dealt a critical blow.

However, some Israel officials were critical of the deal. Israel Housing and Construction Minister, Uri Ariel, said “any agreement that doesn’t include eliminating the rocket threat on residents of Israel and demilitarizing the Gaza Strip is less than half of what is necessary. In this reality, the defense establishment will have no choice but to prepare for the next round, which will be soon,” Ariel added. According to Danny Danon, restraint in the Middle East is seen as weakness. He said: “Despite the heavy price Hamas paid, we did not defeat Hamas. Fifty days of fighting, 64 soldiers killed, five civilians killed, 82,000 reservists called up and in the end we’re back to the agreement from Operation Pillar of Defense.” Danon said a defeat was necessary to broadcast to the whole Middle East, including Hezbollah, Islamic State and Iran, that “they should not mess with the People of Israel.” “I am concerned we did not succeed enough. Now is the time for national introspection. The policy of restraint and hesitation hurt Israel’s deterrence,” he added. Israel Knesset member, Eli Yishai from the Shas political party agreed saying, “This will be time for Hamas to resupply itself with weaponry to use against Israel,” he said. “Not demilitarizing Gaza will bring Israel to another round of fighting that will be even worse.”

As a result of the ceasefire, several senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders appeared in public Among them was Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of the Hamas political wing, and senior Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed al-Hindi who gave a rousing victory speech to thousands of people gathered in a square in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood. “We’re going to build our port and our airport, and if they attack the port, they attack the port. But anyone who attacks the airport will have their airport attacked again,” Zahar said. Zahar also said that in addition to rebuilding Gaza, Hamas would continue “arming itself and developing its resistance capacity.”

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that an indefinite cease-fire agreement reached between Israel and Hamas in Gaza “is an opportunity, not a certainty. We are approaching the next phase with our eyes wide open. We have been down this road before and we are all aware of the challenges ahead,” Kerry said. “Today’s agreement comes after many hours and days of intensive discussions about how a sustainable ceasefire might provide the space and the opportunity to address long-term issues.” Kerry said that “certain bedrock outcomes” are minimal requirements for such a long-term solution, including a guarantee for Israel that terrorist attacks, rocket firings, and tunnel construction will cease, as well as the establishment of full economic and social opportunities for Palestinians, and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the Secretary of State had no plans to restart the peace process in the near future. The Israeli government has insisted on reserving the right to destroy any tunnels discovered burrowed into Israeli territory. Asked whether such a demand was reflected in the cease-fire, Psaki said that US support for that right had not changed, adding that Israel has said that all tunnels so far identified had been destroyed. The Egyptian proposal was very similar to the one that Israel accepted and Hamas rejected on July 15.

An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Mashal: Hamas was behind murder of three Israeli teens
2) PA Makes ‘Political Decision’ to ‘Slaughter Settlers’
3) Netanyahu: Gaza conflict proves Israel can’t relinquish control of West Bank
4) Israel, Hamas Officially Cease Cairo Talks
5) Some see Qatar’s hand in collapse of Gaza talks
6) IDF recalls 2,000 reservists as truce unravels
7) Cabinet approves call-up of 10,000 IDF reservists
8) Gaza rocket fire hits new heights: 168 launched in one day
9) IDF hits 35 Gaza targets since midnight
10) IAF kills senior Islamic Jihad commander
11) Israel kills two Hamas senior military commanders in air strike
12) Hamas executes 18 for ‘collaboration’ with Israel
13) Mashaal, Hamas defiant after assassinations
14) Hamas: We know how to make Netanyahu accept our demands
15) Israel leaders’ stubborn belief in Hamas’ desire for war’s end led the country back to war
16) ‘It’s time to abandon truce talks, reach decisive victory over Hamas’
17) Liberman says Israel’s Gaza operation should end with ‘Hamas waving white flag’
18) Liberman says Israel must take back initiative and ‘bring Hamas to submission’
19) Livni: No negotiations with Hamas
20) Gaza Ceasefire: What Did Israel Agree to?
21) Gaza truce deal: Crossings to open under Israeli supervision
22) Opposition to cease-fire comes from across political spectrum
23) Bennett calls for vote on Gaza ceasefire, says cabinet opposes deal
24) Hamas, Islamic Jihad Leaders Come Out of Hiding as Truce Begins
25) Kerry calls cease-fire ‘an opportunity, not a certainty’

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,

Eddie Chumney
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l

August 16, 2014: Weekly 5 minute update (Audio Only)

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:

1) Listen to the audio

In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:

1) The current status of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip

Hamas continues to fire rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel. So far, over 3,000. Regarded by members of the international community as a terrorist organization, Hamas seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority run by Mahmood Abbas of Fatah in 2007. In order to end the conflict between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip, Egypt presented to both sides a cease-fire proposal. It including the following:

1. Palestinian fishing rights will be extended from 3 to 12 miles.
2. Israel will restore the Gaza Strip’s electrical power capacity within a year.
3. The Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah will oversee and administer all the rehabilitation operations to be performed in the Gaza Strip.
4. An international mechanism will be formed to monitor the building materials delivered to Gaza.
5. Israel will lift its financial restrictions on Gaza’s banks.
6. Israel and Hamas will begin discussing the building of a deep sea port and international airport for the Gaza Strip in a month’s time.
7. They will also embark on parallel negotiations for the release of Palestinians in Israeli security prisons.
8. An extension of the truce and cessation of hostilities between the two parties will take place.

The issue of the Gaza’s demilitarization, which Israel has demanded during Operation Protective Edge, will most likely not be included in the proposal developing in Egypt. Israel wants Gaza to be demilitarized which would essentially force Hamas to give up its large arsenal of rockets and other weapons. Netanyahu stressed that the Israeli delegation to the indirect talks in Egypt is working under “very clear directives” to stand firm on Israel’s security demands. “Only if there will be a clear answer to our security needs will we agree to any understandings,” he said. However, Hamas has flatly rejected Israel’s demilitarization demand. Israel said it would actively work to promote the issue in the international arena.

In a statement, Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said that “the threats of Israel’s leaders only reinforce our commitment to the people’s demands, first and foremost the demand to remove the siege on Gaza.” He said that “the heavy losses of the Palestinian people do not permit us to negotiate and compromise on their demands… No permanent ceasefire agreement can be reached without the removal of the blockade on Gaza.”

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Hamas is mistaken if it thinks that it can cover its military defeat over the last month with a diplomatic achievement. Netanyahu said Hamas suffered a harsh military blow, which included the destruction of their terror tunnels system that they spent years building, the killing of “hundreds of terrorists,” the interception of thousands of rockets, and the prevention of terror attacks from the “land, sea and air.” In an apparent response to Hamas’s threats to engage Israel in a long war of attrition if its demands are not met, Netanyahu said, “If Hamas thinks that by a continuation of a drizzle of rocket fire, we will make concession, it is mistaken. As long as the quiet is not restored, Hamas will continue to absorb very hard blows,” Netanyahu said. “If Hamas thinks we cannot stand for a long period, it is mistaken. In the turbulent and unstable Middle East, it is not enough just to have more strength, you also need determination and patience,” he said. “Hamas knows that we have a lot of power, but perhaps it thinks we do not have enough determination and patience. And it is making a big mistake there as well.” Netanyahu said Israel is a “strong and determined” nation, whose citizens and soldiers showed “amazing resilience and fortitude” and which will stand “united and firm” until “quiet and security” is returned to the country’s citizens.

Only .04 of a 1% of Israeli Jews think Israel should accept Hamas’s demands in order to stop rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. 58% of Israeli Jews think Israel does not have to meet any Hamas demands and should continue to fight until Hamas surrenders. 41% think Israel should respond positively to Hamas’s demands that are reasonable in terms of Israel’s national security. Among Israeli Arabs, 54% think Hamas’s demands consistent with Israeli national security should be accepted, 32% think Israel should accept Hamas’s demands in order to stop the rockets, and only five percent said Israel should not accept Hamas demands and fight until their surrender. Asked whether to deal with Hamas militarily or diplomatically, 66% of the Jewish public said a combination of military and political-diplomatic efforts, 26% exclusively through military means and seven percent through exclusively political-diplomatic means. Among Israeli Arabs, 72% said Hamas should be dealt with through political-diplomatic efforts, 15% think through a combination of military and political-diplomatic means, and 3% think through exclusively military means.

The US is supporting the Israeli demand for the prevention of Hamas and other terror organization’s efforts to rearm. In addition, Israel is coordinating with the US to define the parameters of a permanent truce with Hamas. Israel and the US have secretly decided that Israel will agree to a gradual lifting of the blockade on Gaza Strip, starting with the land crossings and eventually opening up sea traffic. The blockade, which Israel says is needed to prevent arms smuggling, has hurt the economy of Gaza. Under the agreement, Israeli will not oppose the transfer of salaries to Hamas civil workers in Gaza and will allow for the rehabilitation of the Strip with the use of international assistance.

The US has agreed to take part in an international donor conference on the rehabilitation of Gaza. In the coming days, intensive diplomatic efforts are expected to occur in Israel and in Europe to assure the conference takes place. Though there has been no official American confirmation of the agreement, according to Israeli officials, Kerry and Netanyahu will announce in a joint statement that the ties between the two countries are strong, and that past disagreements between them are only on certain points. The statement would reiterate America’s commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself and to prevent rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel. As a result, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is planning to arrive in Israel next week in a show of support for Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and in order to demonstrate that the two allies’ relationship is not in crisis.

The European Union proposed to relaunch and broaden its Border Assistance Mission at Gaza’s Rafah crossing. The offer came after the body’s foreign ministers gathered for emergency talks in Brussels. “The EU is ready to support a possible international mechanism endorsed by the U.N. Security Council, including through the reactivation and possible extension in scope and mandate of its Rafah border assistance program.

However, Palestinian sources said that the “the talks with Israel have reached a dead end. “The problem in the talks is fundamental,” the sources said. “Some fundamental disagreements remain, mostly on the issue of the Gaza seaport. The Palestinian delegation demands the ceasefire agreement specifically states a seaport will be built in Gaza but the discussion on the details would be postponed for later.” Israel refused, they said, and conditioned the seaport with the disarmament of the Palestinian factions, which brought the talks to a standstill. As a result, the Palestinian sources said that the odds of reaching an agreement soon on a permanent ceasefire are very slim.

After a month of bombing from Israel in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian militant groups, Gazans are starting to be vocal in their criticism of Hamas. Hamas has “committed many mistakes,” Ziad Abu Halool, who works for the Gazan government said. “All the Palestinian factions should stop firing rockets. It’s enough. We’ve been suffering. All the people are whispering, ‘Why didn’t Hamas accept the Egyptian initiative in the beginning of the war when the casualties were still low?’ said a Palestinian journalist. The militant groups “should have accepted the cease-fire. It would have stopped the bloodshed. We are the ones affected by the war, our houses and our lives. The destruction is over on this side, not the Israeli side.” Other Gazans don’t believe that Hamas will  help in the rehabilitation of the Strip, which was heavily damaged by the IDF bombardments.

Meanwhile, the European Union is implementing a boycott of Israeli products made in the West Bank. As a result, Israel will end its export of poultry and dairy produce to the European Union from Jewish settlements considered illegal by the international community. The restrictions stem from directives issued by the European Commission in February and affect chicken and milk products from settlements in east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank. “In keeping with previous decisions, the EU no longer recognized the authority of the veterinary inspections services of Israel to approve the export of poultry and (dairy products), the origin of which are in settlements,” a European official said. The official said that during discussions over implementation of the directives, the “Israelis were asked to put in place a system of distinguishing between the origins of dairy products and poultry. If that is put in place that won’t affect poultry and dairy products exported from Israel,” the official said, noting the new directives would be effective from September 1. An Israeli official involved in the affair said that the agriculture ministry had recently issued directives to poultry and dairy manufacturers to “prepare for the EU decision and separate manufacturing lines, to enable the continued export to the Europe” without including products from settlements.

Britain’s business secretary said England would halt some arms exports to Israel if fighting resumed in Gaza. Vince Cable will cancel 12 arms export licenses to Israel, covering components for radar systems, combat aircraft and tanks, according to a statement from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. “We welcome the current ceasefire in Gaza and hope that it will lead to a peaceful resolution. However, the UK government has not been able to clarify if the export license criteria are being met,” Cable said in a statement. “In light of that uncertainty, we have taken the decision to suspend these existing export licenses in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities.”

Furthermore, a senior Israeli official said that the US had suspended a shipment of Hellfire missiles to Israel amid worsening ties over continued fighting in the Gaza Strip. On July 23, the US Pentagon approved a transfer of arms, including 120-mm mortar shells and 40-mm illuminating rounds after receiving a request three days earlier from Israel. As was customary until that point, the White House and State Department were not informed. The decision to hold off on the transfer was most likely on grounds of increased diplomatic tension, the official said, because the US White House and State Department has been angered by a transfer of arms to Israel and had ordered greater oversight into future sales. As a result, the US government has blocked the missile shipment approved by the US Pentagon and would begin to monitor Israeli arms requests and have them subject to White House and State Department approval. The decision to evaluate every request by the Israeli military separately came after the White House and State Department discovered last month that the Pentagon was supplying Israel with arms without their knowledge. After learning of these transfers, the Obama administration, perturbed that much of the ammunition was used by the IDF in its offensive in the Gaza Strip, revised the review process in a move that is likely to limit or at least delay Israel’s requests for weapons. US-Israeli tensions are at a record high, with US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to have recently held a “particularly combative phone call” with officials on both sides resorting to name-calling. Some US administration officials consider Netanyahu and his team reckless and untrustworthy. They think that if only Benjamin Netanyahu could be weakened and eased aside, Israelis might elect a leadership more inclined to follow its thinking and consider greater territorial compromise in the peace process with the Palestinians.

For their part, Israeli officials consider the US view of the Middle East “weak and naive,” pointing to Secretary of State John Kerry’s collaboration with Qatar and Turkey on a draft ceasefire in a move that infuriated Israeli officials. Kerry was reportedly upset that the draft, which was intended for Netanyahu’s eyes and critique only, was put to a cabinet vote, and its subsequent leak to the media put a strain on his ties with the Israeli administration. An Israeli official said the tension had become “very personal,” and described it as “mistrust and a collision of different perspectives on the Middle East.”

Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for a decisive victory in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in the Gaza Strip even at the cost of the escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip. “The State of Israel cannot afford a war of attrition, just like any other modern country can’t. That’s why we have to reach a decisive victory, even at the cost of escalation,” he told mayors in southern Israel. “We don’t need to make any more threats, just deliver a hard blow.”

Lieberman said a decisive victory should be Israel’s main goal, as only that would prevent another round of fighting. “After three operations, I think it’s time to say ‘enough,'” he said. “One month is enough to realize that we can’t reach any agreement with this group of terrorists we’re facing. If we don’t get rid of Hamas, we wouldn’t be able to make progress on any reasonable agreement – not security-wise, nor diplomacy-wise,” the foreign minister went on to say. He criticized the willingness of some cabinet ministers to accept the long-term ceasefire deal taking shape in Egypt, saying “it can’t be that the State of Israel is unwilling or unable to defeat 26,000 terrorists who are sitting here next to us and repeatedly threatening and interrupting the peace.”

Finally, Muhammad Shtayyeh, a senior official in the Palestinian Authority, made a speech saying that the PA is ready to join the International Criminal Court in order to pursue legal cases against Israeli officials and soldiers.

An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Egypt presents proposal to end war in Gaza
2) Cairo draft accord may embody Israeli concessions on security in return for Hamas truce
3) EU offers to renew monitoring of Gaza border
4) Israel coordinated with US on gradual end of Gaza blockade
5) Palestinian divisions emerge in truce talks
6) Haniyeh: Long-term ceasefire only if Israel lifts siege
7) Poll finds almost no support for accepting Hamas’s demands
8) Netanyahu: Hamas will not be able to cover its military defeat with a diplomatic victory
9) Palestinian sources: Talks have reached a dead end over seaport
10) Salvo fired at south hours before Gaza ceasefire set to end
11) Rocket fire at South resumes, IDF strikes Gaza targets in response
12) Israel halts Cairo talks, hits Gaza after rockets shatter quiet
13) After month of bitter fighting, Gazans said questioning Hamas decisions
14) Israel ends export to EU of dairy, poultry produced in West Bank
15) UK to halt some arms sales to Israel if fighting resumes
16) Israeli official confirms US nixed arms shipment; pols argue over who’s to blame
17) Washington said limiting arms transfers to Israel as ties fray
18) US livid with Israel? Hamas can’t believe its luck
19) Lieberman: Only a decisive victory will prevent another operation
20) PA officials announce plans to pursue Israel at the ICC

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,

Eddie Chumney
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l

August 9, 2014: Weekly 5 minute update (Audio Only)

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:

1) Listen to the audio

In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:

1) The current status of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip

Israel started “Operation Protective Edge” on July 8 against the Palestinian terror organization, Hamas, in the Gaza Strip after Hamas launched a barrage of rockets from a sophisticated network of tunnels against Israeli citizens in various parts of the land of Israel. Over the past 5 years, about 16,000 men, around 15 percent of Hamas’ fighting strength, were assigned to build the tunnel network.  Israel’s Southern Command chief, Sami Turgeman, said with the amount of concrete Hamas poured into the tunnel project, two hospitals, twenty schools, twenty healthcare centers, and 100 kindergartens could have been built, he said. For the first 10 days, Israel launched air strikes seeking to destroy those elaborate network of tunnels built by Hamas to wage war against Israel. However, in order to do the job more completely, Israel sent its army into the Gaza Strip.

Hamas started the war with about 10,000 rockets. Since the start of fighting, Hamas has fired over 3,300 rockets at Israel. Of those, 116 hit populated areas inside Israel. About 600 Hamas rockets that were fired at Israel were launched from schools, hospitals, civilian areas, cemeteries and religious sites. The Israeli military has responded with striking over 4,700 terror sites in the Gaza Strip including rocket launching sites, command and control centers, weapon storage and manufacturing facilities, training and militant compounds and militant wing government facilities. The goal of the Israeli military campaign is to restore sustained quiet to Israel’s citizens while dealing a harsh blow to Hamas terrorist infrastructure. Through targeted airstrikes, the Israeli army has destroyed about 1/3 of the Hamas rocket arsenal. Therefore, about 1/3 of the initial Hamas inventory of rockets are still in their control.  Through their efforts, the Israeli military has neutralized about 32 Hamas terror tunnels. They have targeted over 1,000 militants associated with Hamas. Israeli has used over 82,00 reserve duty personnel for the operation. 64 Israeli soldiers have been killed in combat. 463 have been wounded. Israeli has supplied over 40,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the Gaza including food and medical supplies.

In response to the initial Israel attacks upon the Gaza Strip, US President Barack Obama called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. Ultimately, Israel agreed to a humanitarian ceasefire. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, along with UN  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, gave “assurances” to Israel that Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza had agreed to the ceasefire. However, after the humanitarian ceasefire was to have taken place, Hamas attacked and killed two Israeli soldiers. As a result, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State, John Kerry, that “Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip will bear the consequences of their actions.” Israel will “take all necessary steps against those who call for our destruction and perpetrate terrorism against our citizens,” Netanyahu told Kerry. After Hamas broke the ceasefire agreement, Netanyahu said that he would not accept any future ceasefire proposal that does not allow the IDF to complete the destruction of the Hamas terror tunnels. “As of now, we have neutralized dozens of terrorist tunnels and we are determined to complete this mission, with or without a ceasefire,” Netanyahu said. “Therefore I will not agree to any proposal that does not allow the IDF to complete this work which is important for the security of Israel’s citizens.”

In any event, after the initial Israel airstrikes on the Gaza and after ground troops invaded to neutralize Hamas terror tunnels, the Israeli army withdrew their forces from the Gaza Strip.  In practical terms, Israeli troops will regroup and spread out along the border as a barrier against future Hamas attempts to keep up its terror offensive by means of cross-border commando raids using undiscovered tunnels and firing rockets and mortars into Israel. Israel’s war planners believe the positioning of the Israel army outside the Gaza border is capable of repelling any Hamas assaults by means of tank and artillery fire and air force drones. A senior Israeli army official said that Israel did not take over the Gaza Strip or worked to completely destroy Hamas in order to leave an organization in power that would have to answer for terrorism in the Strip. He said that if the Israeli objective was to take down Hamas, Israel could’ve easily have taken over the Gaza Strip within 10 days, and taken another year or two to search for and destroy terror infrastructure. “This wasn’t the essence of our mission,” he said. “The objective is to change the reality from its very core, so we don’t have mutual fire in two months. We need to have a balance of hope in the Strip and a balance of security in Israel.”

After withdrawing their ground troops from the Gaza, Israel agreed to another ceasefire with Hamas. Egypt was in charge of mediation efforts. As a result, representatives of the Palestinian factions in Gaza arrived in Cairo to present a united front on negotiations for a ceasefire. According to one PLO delegation member, their draft demands include the following:

1) An Israel withdrawal from the Gaza Strip
2) End to Gaza blockade and opening of crossings for people and merchandise
3) Extend the freedom of movement for sailors to 12 nautical miles
4) Cancelling the ‘safety strip’ around the Gaza border
5) Establishment of an airport and a seaport in Gaza
6) Rehabilitation of the Strip and a promise of emergency aid with the help of an international committee of donors to be convened by the Palestinian unity government
7) The release of the fourth wave of Palestinian security detainees originally promised by Israel to PA

The Israeli proposal for an enduring ceasefire included the following:

1) Restrict Palestinian brigades in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to bearing light firearms.
2) Grant the Israeli military the freedom of action to strike a tunnel system designed for terrorist attacks and demolish plants manufacturing missiles.
3) An inspection mechanism will be set up to monitor the 1-3 km deep security belt Israel is carving out inside the Gaza Strip along the 75 kilometers of its security border fence.
4) Gaza will not be allowed to have either an airport or a deep water port, as Hamas is demanding.
5) All reconstruction work in the Gaza Strip or repairing the war damage, whether by the international community or Israel, will be channeled through the Palestinian Authority Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas.
6) All of Gaza’s border crossings will be manned and operated by Palestinian Authority security personnel. Egypt and Israel have submitted this demand with regard to both their border terminals.
7) Gaza reconstruction work will take place under international supervision.

An Egyptian security official said the Palestinian delegation’s stance had hardened after the arrival in Cairo of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders from the Gaza Strip. One of the main speakers, Hamas spokesman Mushir Al-Masri, urged the Palestinian representatives in Egypt – “don’t come back without our conditions and demands. Work to get them with all of your might, in spite of the occupation. We support the resistance, we support the Hamas military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, we support more firing at Tel Aviv and we support the tunnels,” he said. Furthermore, Abu Obeida, spokesman of Hamas’ military wing, announced that his movement had acquired new rockets with larger warheads than the more than 3,000 fired against the Israeli population in the month-long conflict, and they would be aimed at Israel’s Ben Gurion international airport. Israel would be severed from its air transport ties with the outside world, he said.

According to the various sources, the cease-fire discussions in Egypt have thus far failed to achieve real progress. Israel Finance Minister Yair Lapid, a member of the eight-person Israeli security cabinet, said the gaps between Israel and Hamas holding indirect talks in Cairo were “wide.” Lapid said that Israel was dealing “with a murderous terrorist organization that wants to kill Jews,” and it will be “impossible to move forward” unless the security of the communities in the south is secured. Furthermore, Israeli sources said that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have also rejected Israel’s demand that they be disarmed as part of a cease-fire agreement.

A senior Hamas official, Mousa Abu Marzouk, said that the first ceasefire with Israel passed without achieving the demands of Hamas. As a result, this is the second and final cease-fire attempt. An Israeli official also said that there was no real progress in the talks with Hamas saying that there are wide gaps in the negotiations.  Hamas’s “military wing,” the Al-Qassam Brigades, released a statement presenting its position in the ongoing talks being held in Egypt. “The warriors in Gaza are waiting with Allah’s help to renew the fighting, or to return to planning the next campaign. There’s no escape. Either jihad or planning (for the next jihad),” declared the statement. The remarks leave no doubts that even in the case of a ceasefire, from Hamas’s perspective the lull in fighting would only be an opportunity to rearm for the next terror war against Israel. As a result, Yehya Musa, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said that his movement was preparing for a “long battle” with Israel. Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation in Cairo said the following regarding the position of Hamas in the talks, “I’m still not sure that there’s a decision by Hamas to end this war.” Therefore, the Palestinian team is in no shape to hold practical negotiations on any sort of resolution in the Gaza because it is deeply divided two ways.

1) Hamas rejects the PA-PLO group as not fit to represent its interests because they say PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas is locked onto the Egyptian side.
2) The Hamas team itself was split between the envoys from Gaza and some of their leaders from Qatar. The Gaza group want the Cairo talks to lead off by setting conditions for a prolonged ceasefire, during which their political and military demands would be negotiated. The Qatar envoys insist on reversing this order: first agreed solutions for the long term and only then a deal for extending the ceasefire.

Israel has been criticized by the international community for using disproportionate force against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  Therefore, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained a moral justification for the way the IDF has dealt with the Hamas strategy of firing rockets at Israel, and tunneling under the Israeli border, from the heart of Palestinian residential neighborhoods in Gaza. Arguing that Israel’s battle over the past month against terrorists in Gaza using civilians as human shields, he said it would be a “moral mistake” as well as a practical one to not take action against terrorists operating from mosques, schools and other civilian areas. Netanyahu blamed Hamas for Gaza’s civilian deaths, due to its rejection of various ceasefire proposals throughout the campaign and its deliberate basing of its military infrastructure in the heart of Gaza population centers.

Palestinian sources in Gaza say that over 1,800 people were killed in the past month during Operation Protective Edge. Israel says it killed some 900 combatants and Netanyahu stressed that Israel “regrets” every civilian death. “Ninety percent of the fatalities could have been avoided had Hamas not rejected various ceasefire proposals. Hamas needs to be blamed for these deaths.” Israel’s response to the Hamas rocket and tunnel threat was “justified and proportionate” Netanyahu asserted, adding that “every civilian casualty is a tragedy — a tragedy of Hamas’s making.” It would have been “disproportionate” not to act, he reasoned, and therefore “to get our people killed.” Netanyahu stressed the need to prevent Hamas from rearming. That, he said, is the way “to prevent this conflict from bring repeated.”

The Obama administration has also been critical of Israel in the way in which it has been attacking Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In a phone call with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, Netanyahu expressed his frustration with the US comments by saying that the Obama administration should  “not ever second-guess me again” and that the United States should trust his judgment on how to deal with Hamas. Then, a phone call between Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry got disconnected giving rise to media speculation on the strained relationship between the US and Israel. Tensions between the US and Israel initially rose when the US used Turkey and Qatar as mediators of a ceasefire agreement with Israel. Both Turkey and Qatar have close ties with Hamas. A ceasefire offer Kerry negotiated after talks with representatives from Qatar and Turkey was unanimously rejected by the Israeli security cabinet because it adhered to most of Hamas’s demands while ignoring Israel’s position that Hamas be demilitarized.

US President Barack Obama said that any ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas that “the short-term goal has to be to make sure that rocket launches do not resume, and that we are now in the process of helping to rebuild Gaza. Long term, there has to be a recognition that Gaza cannot sustain itself permanently closed off. The US goal right now would be to make sure that the cease-fire holds, that Gaza can begin the process of rebuilding, and that some measures are taken so that the people of Gaza feel some sense of hope and the people of Israel feel confident that they’re not going to have a repeat of the kind of rocket launches that we’ve seen over the last several weeks,” Obama said.

“I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza. And the question then becomes, can we find a formula in which Israel has greater assurance that Gaza will not be a launching pad for further attacks, perhaps more dangerous attacks as technology develops into their country. But at the same time, ordinary Palestinians have some prospects for an opening of Gaza,” the US president added. “I have said from the beginning that no country would tolerate rockets being launched into their cities,” Obama stressed, “and as a consequence, I have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself. I also think it is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly when it is deliberately sighting rocket launchers in population centers, putting populations at risk because of that particular military strategy.”

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that a ceasefire in Gaza must lead to broader negotiations for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians to ensure lasting peace in the region. “You have to begin to make life better for the Palestinians,” Kerry said, adding the US supports the opening of crossings to Gaza “to get food in and reconstruct, and have greater freedom, but that has to come with a greater responsibility towards Israel, which means giving up rockets and moving into a different place.” He stressed that a true solution in Gaza would only come together when there is “a bigger, broader approach to the underlying issues of two states” which would ensure the rights of Palestinians while guaranteeing Israel’s security. US President Barack Obama said that Netanyahu needs to be pressured into accepting a solution for the Israel / Palestinian conflict. Obama said, “If Netanyahu doesn’t feel some internal pressure, then it’s hard to see him being able to make some very difficult compromises, including taking on the settler movement. That’s a tough thing to do.”

Saudi Arabia, which regards itself as a leader of the Sunni Muslim world, has played only a background role in the diplomacy to end the fighting in Gaza, leaving its ally Egypt as the main Arab player pursuing a ceasefire. The kingdom’s policy towards Gaza is complicated by its mistrust of the territory’s ruling Hamas, an Islamist movement with close ideological and political links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi Arabia regards as a terrorist organization. Saudi Arabia believes the Brotherhood has a region-wide agenda to seize power from established governments, including the al-Saud dynasty, and has quarreled with Qatar over its support for the group. The Saudi foreign minister rejected Western backing of Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas rockets saying, “Israel does not have a right of self-defense as an occupier. There is no rule under international law that says an occupier has a right of self-defense. For any country to take that position shows bad intentions towards the region and bad intentions towards peace in the region. How can you say that Israel has a right to defend itself when it is the occupier and you do not give the same right to Hamas?”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority claimed it has “clear evidence” that Israel committed war crimes in the Gaza Strip. Therefore, the Palestinians are now preparing to join the International Criminal Court in order to file war crimes charges against Israel, PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said. Malki met with officials of the ICC in the Netherlands to discuss the war in the Gaza Strip. The meeting was held to inquire about the legal procedures required for the “State of Palestine” to join the ICC and sign the court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, in order to take action against possible Israeli war crimes, Malki’s office said. A previous attempt by the PA to join the ICC failed because “Palestine” was not recognized as a country. In November 2012, it obtained the status of non-member observer of the UN General Assembly – a move that allows it to join the ICC and other international agencies and treaties. The Palestinian Authority has decided to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as a first step to joining the International Criminal Court (ICC). The move would allow the Palestinian Authority to file suit against Israel for “war crimes” during Operation Protective Edge, as it has repeatedly threatened to do, but it would also be exposing itself to similar allegations. “We have a decision to accede to the Rome Statute,” PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said. “All we need to do is send the letter… If this assault continues and doesn’t stop, you can see it sooner rather than later. Actually, we’re trying to do things in an incremental way at this point. We are working on the legal aspects of cases and lawsuits, and so on,” Ashrawi said.“ She refused to state whether she considers indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli cities as a war crime.

Various members of the Israel government have different ideas on the ultimate strategy to deal with Hamas. Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni who is also Israel’s chief negotiator in peace talks with the Palestinians called for the replacement of the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip with that of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and for international initiatives to disarm the Gazan terror groups. “We have an opportunity for political change, not with Hamas, but against Hamas,” she said. Both the US and EU have released statements in past weeks backing the disarmament of Hamas.

Israel Finance Minister Yair Lapid unveiled a plan he is promoting that involves the US, the EU, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan toward the goal of demilitarizing Gaza, and eventually transferring it to Palestinian Authority control. Lapid’s plan, which has been presented to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, includes the following elements: returning the PA to the border crossings; making the PA responsible for the rehabilitation of Gaza and the sole body responsible for the rehabilitation funds; conditioning progress in rehabilitation of Gaza to Israel’s security; establishing principles to prevent the strengthening of terror organizations; ensuring the demilitarization of Gaza; and removing the threat of tunnels and rockets from Israel.

While Lapid’s plan leaned heavily on the Palestinian Authority, leader of the Jewish Home political party, Naftali Bennett said that Abbas is “a partner for terror.” Abbas, he said, is a partner in the Palestinian unity government with Hamas that has fired thousands of rockets on Israel, and “today pays Hamas terrorists in jail.” Bennett said the two-state solution is over, and “today everyone knows that a Palestinian state would destroy Israel’s economy and would mean rockets on the center of Israel.” While Lapid said there needed to be a diplomatic process, Bennett said, “I believe that in the end we will sooner or later have to defeat Hamas.”

Finally, Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that getting rid of Hamas is a necessary condition for any wider diplomatic breakthrough. “In order to make a diplomatic process possible, we have to get rid of Hamas,” he said. “As long as Hamas is strong on the ground, controls Gaza, and is popular in the West Bank, a diplomatic process is simply impossible.” He also said that it would be a mistake to build any process right now based on PA President Mahmoud Abbas by saying, “Abu Mazen’s [Abbas’s] legitimacy does not exist,” he said. “After we get rid of Hamas, the next stage is elections… We have to sign an international agreement with somebody with whom there is no doubt whether he has the authority to sign an agreement with us.” Abbas does not have that legitimacy or authority, because there has not been an election in the PA since 2006, Liberman said. “First topple Hamas, then elections, then a diplomatic process,” he said. “It is important to emphasize that our conflict is not a conflict with the Palestinians. Therefore, all the attempts to solve the conflict with the Palestinians failed,” he said. The failure on the Palestinian track time after time was because of a faulty diagnosis, he stressed. Israel’s conflict is not with the Palestinians, but rather with the Arab world. “The Palestinians alone do not have the critical mass to finish a deal with Israel that will demand many difficult decisions. If they do not feel that the Arab world is with them, they will not do it.”

Liberman was not optimistic about the outcome of the cease-fire talks being held in Cairo, saying that Hamas’s minimum demands were much more than Israel could give – in both the short and long terms. In the short term, he said, Hamas will stymie Israel’s demands for disarmament of Gaza, and also the introduction of any effective supervisory mechanism to ensure that money and construction materials pouring into the Strip after the conflict will not be diverted for Hamas’s use. Furthermore, certain long-term goals of Hamas – such as a sea port – are things that Israel could never agree to. “Hamas’s ultimate demand for a sea port is designed to bypass all the supervisory mechanisms we want to set up,” Liberman noted. “It is clear that the whole idea of a sea port is to smuggle in weapons, construction materials, terrorists and advisers from Iran and other places.”

An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Israel says Hamas launched 600 rockets from schools, other civilian facilities
2) After 2 soldiers killed, one seized during truce, Israel debates widening Gaza op
3) Netanyahu: IDF will complete tunnel destruction, with or without a truce
4) Security cabinet instructs IDF to keep hitting Hamas
5) Israeli Air Force takes out 40 mosques-cum-rocket stores, brings new drone into Gaza operation
6) Palestinian factions release demands for Gaza ceasefire
7) Israeli troop exit from Gaza without achieving all goals bodes war of attrition
8) Senior IDF official: We could’ve taken down Hamas in 10 days
9) For Cairo deal, Israel calls for ban in Gaza on all but light arms, free hand against tunnels, rocket plants
10) Hamas: If Gaza blockade isn’t lifted, we’ll renew fire Friday
11) Hamas resumes rocket attacks on Israel, after ultimatum demanding open seaport for Gaza or war
12) Gaza salvo continues: Sderot house hit after 2 wounded
13) After nearly 72-hours, Palestinians say no extension for cease-fire reached yet
14) Israel accepts midnight cease-fire proposal despite continued rocket attacks
15) Hamas official: This is second and final cease-fire with Israel
16) Hamas Clarifies Truce Would Only Be to Plan Next War
17) Fresh Gaza hostilities likely Wednesday. IDF to expand counteraction for Hamas rockets
18) Hamas says group preparing for ‘long battle,’ as three-day truce nears end
19) Netanyahu lays out Israeli case for morality of Gaza campaign
20) US must ‘never second-guess me again’ on Hamas, Netanyahu tells Shapiro
21) Obama: Netanyahu will compromise only if pressured
22) Kerry, Netanyahu call ‘cut off,’ is not renewed
23) Obama: Gaza cannot remain closed off
24) Kerry: Israel, Palestinians must solve broader issues
25) Jimmy Carter: Hamas is a legitimate political actor
26) Saudi FM: Israel’s only objective is to uproot Palestinian existence
27) PA foreign minister tells ICC there is ‘clear evidence’ of Israeli war crimes
28) PA to sign Rome Statute of ICC
29) Hamas: We’ll let the PA monitor Rafah crossing
30) Livni calls for PA control over Gaza, disarmament
31) Liberman to ‘Post’: First get rid of Hamas, then hold PA elections, then pursue regional accord

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,

Eddie Chumney
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l