You may view the 5 minute update this week via 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,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l