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MA#39 JANUARY 2009 – GAZA - 16 January 2009

 

 

SHOWDOWN  IN GAZA

 

 

“Concerning Gaza … the city and those who live in it: the men will cry out,

and every inhabitant of the land will wail.”    (Jeremiah 47:1-2)

“I will send fire upon the wall of Gaza and it will consume her citadels.” 

(Amos 1:7)

 

 

 

The Gaza war was not Israel’s choice; it was forced upon them by the radical agenda of the Hamas leaders, and by the urging of both the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, and the fanatical Shia leaders of Iran.

      BACKGROUND  

For three years after Israel dismantled its Jewish settlements in Gaza and withdrew its troops from the territory, Gaza’s Palestinians have fired six thousand rockets on southern Israel, making it a constant nightmare for residents in towns like Sderot.

In January 2006, Hamas won the first Palestinian elections defeating the old Fatah party of Arafat. After some time, however, Hamas was not able to govern, and it was persuaded to join Fatah in a power-sharing arrangement.  But this was a disaster – both sides were mostly at war with each other.

The Hamas charter calls for Israel to be wiped out, and therefore it has consistently refused to recognise or to make peace with Israel. .

Last June, Hamas orchestrated a coup against the Fatah organisation and took over full control of Gaza.

Western nations and Israel began a financial boycott of Hamas, but large sums of cash were smuggled into Gaza from Iran and Arab nations, enabling Hamas to survive. And the rockets continued to rain down on Israel in retaliation.

Israel’s usual response to those attacks has been to target the rocket launchers - a response that proved to be quite ineffectual in stopping the rockets.

In June 2008, through Egyptian mediation, Hamas and Israel agreed to a ceasefire for six months.  Israel, of course, knew that this would be merely a lull during which Hamas would replenish its armaments and build up its military capacity. But Israel also used the time to collect intelligence and to prepare for the inevitable battle.

The 6-month truce ended on December 19, 08; and even though several Arab governments including Fatah pleaded with them to continue “the cease-fire,” Hamas refused.  The “cease-fire,” in fact, had been that in name only.

The Palestinians reduced the number of rockets but did not stop firing them. The Israeli army says Palestinian militants fired 3,000 rockets on Israel over the past year. For this reason Israel refused to cancel their tight embargo on Gaza which had been designated a terrorist state by the US and Europe as well as Israel.

For several days before Dec 19, 08, and for seven days after, Hamas and other radical groups in Gaza fired hundreds of rockets and mortars at an increasing number of Israeli towns and cities.  Hundreds of thousands of Israelis were subjected to the constant attacks which became intolerable.

After several years of blows, and showing moderation and restraint, (which made the government appear anaemic, Israel finally declared, “Enough is enough!” 

ISRAEL’S RESPONSE TO HAMAS

On Dec. 27, 08, in an attempt to halt the rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled territory, Israel launched “Operation Cast Lead.”

With Israeli elections coming up on February 10, 09, the coalition government, consisting primarily of the Kadima Party of Olmert and Livni, and the Labor Party of Ehud Barak, could not afford to be seen as indecisive, especially at a time when hard-line opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu was mounting a strong political challenge to them.

        

OLMERT              LIVNI              BARAK

Israel warned Hamas in no uncertain terms that their rocket barrage would no longer be tolerated, and that Hamas itself would be in danger.  But still the rockets kept coming. A Hamas official even boasted that Israel was weak, confused, and afraid to take on Hamas.

The offensive began eight days after the “truce” between Israel and the militants expired. Israeli planes launched a “shock and awe” attack on Gaza. The attack began on the Sabbath (27th morning). It took Hamas by surprise as they thought nothing would happen, at least until after an Israeli cabinet meeting on the 28th.

In the heaviest military strike against the Gaza Strip since the 1967 Six Day War, the Israeli Air Force bombed over 170 targets killing more than 230 Palestinians, mostly militants, as it launched its “Operation Cast Lead” which was aimed at putting a stop to the Hamas rockets.

Over 100 fighter jets and attack helicopters dropped dozens of smart bombs and tons of explosives on Hamas training camps, rocket-manufacturing facilities, weapons storehouses, underground missile silos and command-and-control centres scattered throughout the Gaza Strip that had been identified in advance.

Military officials said aircraft released more than 100 tonnes of bombs in the first nine hours of fighting.

A Hamas police spokesman said 180 members of the Hamas security forces were among the dead, including at least two senior Hamas commanders and 70-80 Hamas operatives who were killed at the Gaza Police Academy during a graduation ceremony.

From Day two, Gaza leaders went into hiding in bunkers. Most Hamas service men dropped their uniforms to avoid detection. 

It was reported that some senior Hamas operatives and terror chiefs were hiding and conducting their operations from within Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. “They have disguised themselves as nurses and doctors,” an official said. Hamas was also using mosques, public institutions and private homes as ammunition stores.

During the first 18 days of the war, more than 1000 air strikes were carried out by the IDF. Over 1000 Palestinians were killed, including many senior officials and military leaders.  According to a UN count, 25% of those killed were civilians.  Some of the “children” killed were in fact teenage terrorists.

Early in the piece, an IDF plane bombed and destroyed a mosque in Gaza City claiming that the mosque was “a base for terrorist activities.” At least fifteen other mosques were attacked later for the same reason. Another target was the Al Aqsa TV station.

Israel’s operation included air force sorties in which “bunker busters” were dropped along Gaza’s border with Egypt. These bombs release shockwaves designed to collapse secret passages. The majority of the several hundred tunnels along the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, which Hamas used for weapons smuggling, have evidently been destroyed.

    ONE OF THE HUNDREDS OF TUNNELS UNDER THE GAZA BORDER

Gaza militants continued firing rockets into Israel - on average, 60 per day, causing a lot of damage. Four Israeli citizens were killed from these rocket attacks, dozens were wounded, and tens of thousands were traumatized.

But that response was far less than the 200 rockets a day that IDF defence experts had anticipated from Hamas.  Most of their rockets were home-made Kassams, but longer-range Katyusha rockets had been added to their arsenal; and at least 40 of these were fired at targets up to 45 kilometers away.

One Katyusha scored a direct hit on a building in Netivot, killing a 58-year-old man and wounding several others. Another rocket killed an Israeli, and wounded 16 others, in the centre of Ashkelon.

Grad-model Katyusha rockets that were fired into Beersheba, it was discovered, were manufactured in China. They had been smuggled into Gaza after the Sinai border wall was blown up by Hamas last January, according to defence officials. - Jerusalem Post

One of the missiles exploded on the southern outskirts of the city of Yavneh, approximately 9-10 km north of the port city of Ashdod, - the furthest a missile has reached from Gaza. Yavneh is more than 40 km north from Gaza, and only 15 km south of Tel Aviv.

The increased range of Gazan rockets put at least 700,000 people (10% of Israel’s population) within danger.

After the first week of fighting, both Israel and Hamas remained defiant and determined. Israel said operations “will continue, will be expanded, and will deepen if necessary ... this is a ‘war to the bitter end’.” A Hamas spokesman spoke likewise: “Hamas will continue the resistance until the last drop of our blood.”

As ground forces amassed outside Gaza ahead of stage two - a ground operation, PM Ehud Olmert warned that Saturday’s aerial bombardment was just the opening salvo of an operation that could last several weeks. Defence Minister Ehud Barak said: “There is a time for a cease-fire and a time to fight ... Now is the time to fight.”

ISRAEL’S GOALS?

Israel will push forward with its offensive in the Gaza Strip until it “completely destroys” Hamas, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, said, saying that the operation will continue as long as necessary to reach that goal. Shalev refused to discuss Israel’s war strategy, but said the operation would continue “as long as it takes to dismantle Hamas completely.” Other statements suggest lesser goals.

Some commentators say Hamas is unlikely to be brought down by force, short of Israel reoccupying the territory. And Israel does not like that option because it doesn’t want to get bogged down in urban warfare.

“Israel is not looking for a knockout against Hamas because the costs are too high,” said Shlomo Brom, a former senior Israeli military official. “The purpose is to eventually return to a cease-fire.”

OLMERT TO SARKOZY: “The goal of the operation is not to destroy the Hamas leadership, even though we are able to do this, as well. We defined from the very beginning a limited goal - to change the security situation in the South and to free thousands of citizens from the threat of terror. We will not be able to come to a compromise while Hamas is able to fire, in another month or two, on the Israeli population,” the prime minister said. “Before the ceasefire, Hamas had rockets that could reach as far as 20 kilometres. After the ceasefire, the range of their rockets grew to 40 kilometres, threatening the lives of a million Israelis.”

 

THE GROUND OPERATION

   

The day after the air operation began, the Israel Defence Forces began mobilizing tanks and increasing ground troops to 10,000 near the Gaza border, in preparation for a possible ground incursion. Defence Minister Ehud Barak said he would not rule out widening the offensive in the Gaza Strip to include a ground invasion.

With Hamas hitting Ashkelon, Israel’s 13th largest city, for nearly one year, and now targeting Ashdod (the 5th biggest city, and a major seaport) and also Beersheva (6th biggest city with a large university), it became inevitable that a substantial ground operation would need to take place.

Israel entered the second week of its offensive on Saturday 3rd, by launching the much-expected ground operation. Reports from both Israel and Gaza indicated that IDF troops had killed dozens of Hamas gunmen as they traded heavy fire upon entering the Strip.

The IDF emphasized that this stage of the operation will strike a direct and hard blow against the Hamas while increasing the deterrent strength of the IDF, in order to bring about an improved and more stable security situation for residents of Southern Israel.

Large numbers of forces took part in this stage of the operation including infantry, tanks, engineering forces, artillery and intelligence with the support of the Israel Air Force, Israel navy, the Shin Bet security service, and other security agencies.

The invasion was preceded by the firing of artillery shells into the strip from military preparation sites along the Gaza-Israel border. The artillery fire aimed to detonate Hamas explosive devices and mines planted along the border area before troops marched in.

The IDF escalated its ground operations in Gaza after it divided the Gaza Strip into two segments - a move aimed at cutting off the flow of arms, supplies and fighters to northern Gaza. Israeli forces then began surrounding Gaza City.

Defence officials said Hamas was trying to kidnap Israeli soldiers operating inside Gaza and that commanders had been ordered to take extra precautions to ensure their soldiers’ safety.

PHONELESS HAMAS ARMY CONFUSED

Jan 5. The “Cast Lead” campaign spread to cyberspace and cell phones, leaving Hamas’ terrorist army in confusion, unable to issue and receive orders efficiently. Almost of all of Gaza’s cell phone system is out of order; television stations have been hit and the Hamas website is down. Hamas’ leaders, who have been forced underground, have been forced to rely on old-fashioned walkie-talkies to maintain communication.

MOUNTING CASUALTIES

Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told reporters. Hamas, on the other hand, is looking for children to kill. Hamas is deliberately targeting kindergartens and schools and citizens and civilians because this is according to their values. Our values are completely different, Livni said. “We are trying to target Hamas militants, which hide among civilians.”

The conflict has left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza increasingly desperate for food, water, fuel and medical assistance.

Dec 29. Egypt opened its borders to Gaza and allowed trucks loaded with humanitarian aid to enter the Rafah terminal. It was also taking in wounded Palestinians from Gaza, with more than a dozen Egyptian ambulances waiting at the crossing.

 “WHOLE HAMAS BATTALIONS WIPED OUT”

At the end of the second week a senior IDF officer said whole Hamas battalions had been wiped out in dozens of clashes with troops over the weekend, and that terror groups were hit by a wave of desertions.

ARMY WARNS GAZA RESIDENTS

Jan 10. The Israel Air Force has dropped leaflets throughout the Gaza Strip warning residents that Israel is about to begin a “new phase in the war on terror,” and that it will “escalate.”

The leaflet read: “Strip residents: Two days ago, the IDF dropped leaflets in Rafah, warning residents and instructing them to leave their homes for their safety. As Rafah residents complied with IDF instructions, civilians not involved in the fighting were spared any harm. In the near future, the IDF will continue to attack tunnels, arms caches, and terror activities with greater intensity all across the Strip. For your safety and the safety of your families, you are required to refrain from staying near terror elements or sites where weapons are being stored.”

 

ABBAS ‘BEGGED’ ISRAEL TO HIT HAMAS  

PA President and Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas and his office today slammed as “barbaric” and “unnecessary” Israel’s air strikes in Gaza, but according to top diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, for months Abbas had petitioned Israel to launch such a massive military raid against his Hamas rivals in Gaza.         - worldnetdaily

Abbas, who heads a not-so-moderate government in the West Bank issued his strongest condemnation yet of the operation, calling it a “sweeping Israeli aggression against Gaza,” and saying he would consult with his bitter rivals in Hamas in an effort to end it.

HAMAS MOVES AGAINST FATAH

AND ‘COLLABORATORS’

Jan 4. “Hamas is very nervous, because they feel that their end is nearing,” a senior Fatah official said. “They have been waging a brutal campaign against Fatah members in the Gaza Strip.” Hamas militiamen have been assaulting many Fatah activists; at least 75 Fatah activists were shot in the legs while others had their hands broken. The spokesman accused Hamas of executing a number of Fatah detainees.

The crackdown came amid reports that the Fatah leadership in the West Bank has instructed its followers to be ready to assume power over the Gaza Strip when and if Israel’s military operation results in the removal of Hamas rule.

Hamas has also executed more than 35 Palestinians who were suspected of collaborating with Israel and who were being held in various Hamas security installations.

ISRAELI RESERVISTS CALLED UP

Jan 4. A Knesset committee has approved Ehud Barak’s request for the call-up of tens of thousands of IDF reservists in light of the ground operation in Gaza.  This call-up was deemed necessary, for after dealing with Hamas on its southern border, Israel may have to deal with another one of Iran’s proxies on its northern border - Hizb’ullah in Lebanon, armed with 40,000 missiles that can reach almost every part of Israel.

THE THREAT FROM HIZB’ULLAH

Lebanon’s powerful Hizb’ullah guerrilla movement — widely seen as the Arab world’s most effective force against Israel is a staunch Hamas supporter but so far it has held back its fire and allowed its Palestinian ally to endure Israel’s assault in Gaza alone.

Last May, Hizb’ullah gained significant clout by joining a national unity government with pro-U.S. rivals in Lebanon. The country is now enjoying an unusually long stretch of relative calm and prosperity and many Lebanese fear anything that could disturb the stability.

But Hizb’ullah has also rebuilt its arsenal and claims to possess up to 40,000 rockets, with far greater range, sophistication and firepower than Hamas’ mostly primitive rockets. At present it is constrained by its own domestic political goals and its fear of the massive retaliation that Israel has promised for Lebanon should it allow Hizb’ullah to launch a new rocket bombardment.

Israel’s top commander on the border with Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, warned in October that Israel would reply with “disproportionate force” if Hizb’ullah attacks again, adding that any village used to fire missiles against the Jewish state will be destroyed.

Hizb’ullah also has to reckon with the Lebanese army and a more robust UN peacekeeping force in the south near the border with Israel.

HAMAS MUST BE CRUSHED, NOT CODDLED

DEC 31, 08. The leaders of the European Union, Russia, and many governments around the world are putting enormous pressure on Israel to stop defending the Jewish people and stop attacking the terrorist strongholds in Gaza.

More than 6,300 rockets and missiles have been fired at Israel by Hamas since Israeli withdrew its military forces from Gaza in 2005. Hundreds of rockets have been fired at Israel just since December 19th. Would the French or Germans agree to a cease-fire if they were being hit by hundreds and thousands of rockets, missiles, and mortars by enemies sworn to annihilate them? Of course not. The Russians invaded Georgia for far, far less.

“We didn’t initiate the Gaza operation in order to end it while Israeli towns are still under fire, as they were before the operation,” PM Ehud Olmert told reporters. “Israel has shown restraint for years; she gave the truce a chance; we told ourselves ‘let’s try it,’ but Hamas violated the truce.”

I don’t often say this, but Olmert is right! Hamas must be crushed, not coddled. Yet the world is trying to coddle these Palestinian radicals. It’s an outrage. The onus is on the Hamas terrorists to lay down their arms and stop firing rockets into Israel. Until that happens, the IDF should continue fighting.

It pains me to see the suffering on both sides, but this is entirely Hamas’ responsibility. They were urged by Egypt, by Mahmoud Abbas, and by the Israelis not to let the previous cease-fire lapse, but they chose war instead.

 - By Joel C. Rosenberg   – www.flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com

THE EUROPEAN UNION INVOLVEMENT

The EU has called for a cease-fire to end the violence in Gaza. The Czech Republic on 3 Jan published a statement on behalf of the EU, saying the ground assault was “more defensive than offensive.”

CZECH REPUBLIC AND FRANCE FLIP-FLOT

On Jan 3, the Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said Israel had the right to defend itself. “Let us realize one thing: Hamas increased steeply the number of rockets fired at Israel since the ceasefire ended on December 19. That is not acceptable any more,” he said.

France, on the other hand, condemned Israel’s strikes and the rocket attacks from Hamas militants and called for both to stop immediately. President Sarkozy complained about Israel’s disproportionate use of force.

On Jan 5, the Czech EU presidency issued a statement retracting its outright support for Israel. “Even the undisputable right of the state to defend itself does not allow actions which largely affect civilians,” the communiqué said.

And President Sarkozy also switched his position and now laid the lion’s share of blame on Hamas.  “Hamas, which decided to break the truce and resume rocket fire against Israel, bears a heavy responsibility for the suffering of the Palestinians,” he said.

The Czech EU presidency and Mr Sarkozy are both leading EU efforts to broker a ceasefire.  – euobserver

TURKISH-ISRAEL RELATIONS

Jan 5. A deep crisis in Turkish-Israel relations appears to be the first strategic casualty of Israel’s offensive to suppress Hamas’ rocket campaign.

DEBKAfile’s Ankara sources report that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seriously planning to freeze the long-standing military ties between the US’s foremost defence allies in the Middle East, and call off forthcoming joint maneuvers. If his hostility toward Israel persists, it will have far-reaching fallout for American Middle East policies and Israel’s defence position in the region.   - www.debka.com

IRAN: “NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT”

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the Arab League, which began a meeting on 31 Dec, it must act quickly to end Israeli attacks on Gaza Palestinians, adding that “setting up a committee” or “making speeches” was not enough.

Iran, in addition to providing Hamas longer-range rockets, is also promised 10,000 volunteer suicide bombers to attack Israel. The country’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that anyone who died in the defense of Gaza would be deemed a martyr.

But an Egyptian official said that the Iranians were applying “double standards” regarding the current conflict - on the one hand, they encouraged Iranian men to volunteer to fight alongside Hamas; on the other hand, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the volunteers that they would not be permitted to join the fight against Israel.

“CUT OIL TO ISRAEL‘S SUPPORTERS”

Jan 4. An Iranian military commander called on Islamic countries to cut oil exports to Israel’s supporters, the official IRNA news agency reported. This would be …“one of the powerful elements of pressure” on Israel’s Western backers in the “unequal war” faced by Palestinians in Gaza. 

IN GAZA, THE REAL ENEMY IS IRAN

The Los Angeles Times  (Jan 4, 09) hit the nail right on the head with this forthright commentary by Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren: 

THE images from the fighting in Gaza are harrowing but ultimately deceptive. They portray a mighty invading army, one equipped with F-16 jets that have bombed a civilian population defended by a few thousand fighters armed with primitive rockets.

But widen the lens and the true nature of this conflict emerges. Hamas, like Hizb’ullah in Lebanon, is a proxy for the real enemy Israel is confronting: Iran. And Israel’s current operation against Hamas represents a unique chance to deal a strategic blow to Iranian expansionism.

Until now, the Iranian revolution has appeared unstoppable. The Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s ended with Iranian troops occupying Iraqi territory. Iranian influence then spread to Saudi Arabia’s heavily Shi’ite and oil-rich Eastern province, and to Lebanon through Hizb’ullah. Since the fall of their long-standing enemy, Saddam Hussein, Iranians have deeply infiltrated Iraq.

Syria has been drawn into Iran’s sphere, and even the Sunni sheikdoms of the gulf now defer to Iran, dispatching foreign ministers to Tehran and defying international sanctions against it.

Iran has co-opted Hamas, a Sunni organization closely linked to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, transforming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a jihad against the Jewish state.

But Iran’s boldest achievement has been to thwart world pressure and approach the nuclear threshold. Once fortified with nuclear weapons, Iranian hegemony in the Middle East would be complete.

All of which helps explain the public statements from moderate Arab leaders, such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, who have blamed the end of the tenuous Israel-Hamas cease-fire on Hamas.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit has even called on the Arab world to stop using the UN as a forum for blaming Israel alone for the fighting; surely a first! Those leaders understand what many in the West have yet to grasp: The Middle East conflict is no longer just about creating a Palestinian state but about preventing the region’s takeover by radical Islam.

Indeed, Palestinian statehood is impossible without neutralizing the extremists who oppose any negotiated solution.

If Israel successfully overthrows Hamas in Gaza, it would strengthen anti-Iranian forces throughout the Middle East and signal the region that Iranian momentum can be reversed. Israel’s main goal is to ensure that Hamas is unable to proclaim victory and thereby enhance Iranian prestige in the Arab world.

An earlier opportunity to check Iran — during Israel’s war against Hizb’ullah in 2006 — was squandered through a combination of Israeli incompetence and international pressure. Hizb’ullah manipulated the Western media by grossly inflating the number of civilian casualties and even “recycling” corpses from one bombed site to another.

The international community responded by imposing a cease-fire before Israel could achieve its goals and installing a peacekeeping force that has since allowed Hizb’ullah to more than double its prewar arsenal. Though the Israeli army killed a quarter of Hizb’ullah’s troops and destroyed its headquarters, Israel was widely perceived as the loser. The winner was Iran.

Israel learned the bitter lesson of Lebanon. But the question remains whether the international community has learned its Lebanon lesson, or will once again allow the jihadists to win.  

- www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-halevi4-2009jan04,0,3919516.story

 

IRAN - THE MOST DANGEROUS REGIME

“This is the most dangerous Iranian regime in history and if they get nuclear weapons and Iran attaches those weapons to the high speed missiles they already have, Iran could do in six minutes what it took Adolph Hitler almost six years to do, and that is to kill six million Jews.”   - Author and Mideast analyst Joel Rosenberg

ARAB RIOTS IN ISRAEL

Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen said 600 Arab-Israelis had been arrested within Israel over the past week, and 230 are still behind bars in connection with violent demonstrations against the Gaza operation. 50 police officers were injured in the rioting by Arab citizens of Israel.  - IsraelNN. com

THE GLOBAL ANTI-ISRAEL PROTESTS

”Look, the nations are as a drop in the bucket, and are counted as small dust on the balances. See, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.” (Isaiah 40:15)

The anti-Israel propaganda kicked in from the start – it is very much a part of the war, and the enemies of Israel count on it!  Passionate and often violent pro-Palestinian demonstrations have taken place around the world.  Hal Lindsay gives this comment:

“It began with the usual suspects – led by the Arabs, the Russians, the Muslims – all demanding an immediate Israeli withdrawal from its “invasion” of Gaza. Then right on cue, the members of the United Nations begin their usual chorus – charging that Israel’s response is “not proportionate.”

“Finally, the media revs up their one-sided campaign. Their job is to spotlight the injuries and deaths of Palestinian women and children who are accidentally hit during the intense battles. Apparently, the months and years of constant bombardment lavished on the Israelis by Hamas thugs didn’t trigger the media’s interest. Only when Israel struck back did the signal go out for the mainstream media to join the fray.

“What is it about Israel that makes it the world’s pariah state? How can it be that no insult to the Arabs is too slight to justify wholesale murder, whereas no atrocity, no matter how outrageous, justifies an Israeli defensive response? It matters not how reasonable and legitimate the defensive action would be for any other nation. But leaders from around the world have streamed into the UN to defend the ‘Palestinian democracy’ – as if such an entity exists.

“It makes absolutely no sense in the natural. Only the Bible can explain the mystery behind the supernatural hatred of the Jews. Bible prophecy predicted that Israel would be miraculously reborn in “the last days.” The Bible also predicted that a supernatural hatred against Jews would grow worldwide. This will be soon followed by Armageddon and the return of Jesus the Messiah.

“All of this is being fulfilled to the letter before our eyes. So don’t be surprised or afraid. Christ’s return to deliver those who have believed in Him is coming very soon.”

THE GAZA CONFLICT IN PROPER CONTEXT

The general news media likes to report the conflict as a tit-for-tat issue, with Palestinians responding in the only way they know how against the Israeli siege and settlements - “The occupation.”  But that is simply propaganda.

For Hamas, the issue is not about the ‘occupation.’ The Hamas charter still calls for the complete destruction of the state of Israel and the Jewish people. There is no amount of land that Israel could give up that Hamas would be satisfied with. 

Gaza terrorists have deliberately targeted Israeli civilians with 3000 rockets in the last year alone. And yet the international community condemns Israel’s ‘disproportionate response.’

If Israel indiscriminately fired missiles on civilians in Gaza there would be tens of thousands of Palestinians slain. But Israel does not target Palestinian civilians,  In fact they deliberately seek to avoid injuring civilians, whereas as Hamas places rockets in civilian areas, and their operatives cower behind human shields, there are, tragically, civilians killed.

Hamas also teaches their children to hate and kill, and then send their young people and their women to their deaths with explosives strapped to their waists. And if their desires could be fulfilled, tens of thousands of Jews would be slaughtered – so many that the rest would feel compelled to flee from the land.

If the Palestinian radicals were more successful, Israel would have wiped them out long ago.

Of course as Christians we know there is another side to this issue. There is a spiritual aspect to all this which cannot be ignored. The Bible predicted that this would happen; that the nation of Israel would be reborn (Ezekiel 37); and that they would have war with their enemies until the time comes when they (the Jews) are ready to embrace the One whom they have rejected for so long.  (Zechariah 12).

CEASE-FIRE AND TRUCE NEGOTIATIONS

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni rejected an early call for a 48-hour “humanitarian pause” and told her French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, that Hamas must not be given the opportunity to gain any sort of legitimacy within a renewal of a truce. Under the current offensive, she said, Hamas must understand that Israel will not tolerate Gaza rocket fire without a response.

QUARTET CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE TRUCE

Dec 30, 08. Foreign ministers from the Quartet of Middle East peace brokers - the UN, the US, Russia and the EU - called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and southern Israel.

But Israel’s envoy to the U.S., Sallay Meridor, blamed Iran for the situation in Gaza.  “What you see in Gaza is made by Iran - it’s funded by Iran, the terrorists are trained by Iran, it’s supplied by Iran, the know-how to create short range rockets is Iranian,” he said. “As an octopus, Iran has proxies in the region and beyond the region, and at the same time they’re moving towards nuclear weapons.”

“This is not a separate Israeli problem or just a threat to Israel; this is very well-connected to the threat in Mumbai, Beersheva, or God forbid, NYC, and we can defeat it only if we stand together determined not to let those terrorists kill citizens and destroy our way of life. You must act against terror if you want to give peace a chance,” he said. But “we are making efforts to make sure that whatever humanitarian aid wants to get to Gaza, will get into Gaza.”

On Jan 3, the US blocked approval of a UN Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

The US has designated Hamas a terrorist organization, and it sees no prospect of Hamas abiding by the council’s call for an immediate end to the violence.

ARABS SEEK UN RESOLUTION

On Jan 4.  A delegation of foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria, led by the PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, were  in New York, urging  the UN Security Council to adopt an Arab draft resolution that would condemn Israel and demand a halt to its bombing campaign in Gaza. 

There were also calls for a lifting of the blockade on Gaza, a return to negotiations, and a renewed truce between Israel and Hamas.  But the US said the draft is unacceptable and unbalanced because it makes no mention of halting the Hamas rocketing of southern Israel which led to the Israeli offensive.

UN WANTS MONITORS FOR CEASE-FIRE

Jan 5. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging key world leaders to intensify efforts to achieve an immediate Israel-Hamas cease-fire that includes international monitors to enforce a truce and possibly to protect Palestinian civilians.

EU SENDING TWO PEACE MISSIONS

The new Czech EU presidency sent a peace mission to Egypt, Israel, Palestine’s West Bank and Jordan to try to broker a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war.

Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg led the team, comprising French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, EU top diplomat Javier Solana and external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

At the same time, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, led a mission to Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel and ‘Palestine.’ The Schwarzenberg and Sarkozy delegations were to hold a joint meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.  

“HAMAS LOOKING FOR WAY OUT”

Jan 4. Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency/ISA) chief Yuval Diskin told the government that “there are initial signs that Hamas is becoming less intransigent about the possible ceasefire. Their leadership is under heavy pressure and they want the Israeli operation halted, while looking for an ‘honourable exit’ that will not humiliate them,” he told a cabinet session.

“There is a willingness on the part of Hamas to reach an accommodation,” Diskin said. “The Hamas leadership abroad and in Gaza is under pressure and is acting to achieve a ceasefire,” he explained. “It is disappointed with the Arab countries which are not standing by its side. Everything Hamas has created in Gaza is under real threat and its leadership feels an existential danger,” he added.

Military Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the cabinet that “Hamas understands that it made a strategic mistake in violating the ‘calm.’ It has been dealt a serious blow. Dozens of command posts have been hit, ammunition depots and [weapon] production infrastructure have been destroyed. The ability to smuggle through tunnels has been impaired. Their ability to govern has also been harmed; its leaders have completely abandoned the population and are worrying only about themselves,” Yadlin said.

 

SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION - #1860

Jan 8. The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate durable and fully respected ceasefire leading to the “full withdrawal” of Israeli forces from Gaza. It also demanded “the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance,” and measures to prevent arms smuggling to Palestinian militants, and the opening of border crossings into Gaza.

14 of the 15 Security Council members voted in favour of the resolution. The US abstained as it first wants “to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation” with Israel and Hamas.

BOTH ISRAEL AND HAMAS REJECT THE RESOLUTION!

Israel’s government said any cease-fire must guarantee an end to rocket fire and arms smuggling into Gaza.

(During the recent six-month cease-fire, Hamas is believed to have used tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border to smuggle in the medium-range rockets that it is now using to hit deeper than ever inside Israel.)

Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza said: “Even though we are the main actors on the ground in Gaza, we were not consulted about this resolution and they have not taken into account our vision and the interests of our people.”

Hamas has said it won’t accept any agreement that does not include the full opening Gaza’s blockaded border crossings. Israel is unlikely to agree to that demand, as it would allow Hamas to strengthen its hold on the territory which it violently seized in June 2007.

While the UNSC call is tantamount to a demand on the parties, Israel’s troops won’t be required to pull out of Gaza until there is a durable cease-fire. The resolution calls on U.N. member states to intensify efforts to provide guarantees in Gaza to sustain a lasting truce, including prevention of illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition.

Jan 9. The Israeli Security Cabinet voted to continue Operation Cast Lead despite the UNSC resolution. “The State of Israel has never agreed that any outside body would determine its right to defend the security of its citizens,” read a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office immediately following the meeting.

“The IDF will continue operations in order to defend Israeli citizens and will carry out the missions with which it has been assigned in the operation. This morning’s rocket fire (by Hamas) against residents of the south only proves that the UN Security Council Resolution #1860 is not practical and will not be honoured in actual fact by the Palestinian terror organizations.”

U.S. HOUSE BACKS ISRAEL

Jan 10. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution “recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza” by a majority of 390-5.

Lawmakers in Washington routinely pass non-binding resolutions supporting Israel during Middle East crises.

US, Egypt, Jordan, Germany and Israel -

 all ARE working FOR A ceasefire package

Jan 6. DEBKAfile reports that Washington, Cairo, Amman and Jerusalem are hammering out a ceasefire deal that will depend on the state of combat in the Gaza Strip. Jerusalem accepts the proposition that the ceasefire lines will follow the lines of combat reached in the Gaza Strip in the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman outlined the deal for the Hamas delegation after it finally agreed to discuss a truce. It was clear to both sides that he was dictating honorable terms for a Hamas capitulation.

Egyptian and Jordanian forces will then enter the Gaza Strip. Israel will hold the lines established on the day the ceasefire goes into effect, for a 2-3 month trial period. Egyptian and Jordanian units will remain in the enclave until a pre-set date. An international mechanism will prevent Hamas from rearming.

Alongside this overt diplomatic drive for a ceasefire, Washington is quietly moving ahead on a package in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt - which is managing the Hamas track - and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

SARKOZY: HALT TO ARMS SMUGGLING IS KEY TO CEASE-FIRE

Jan 9. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the key; to reaching a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza was the permanent cessation of arms smuggling to the Hamas-ruled coastal territory.

“We must give Israel the guarantee that weapons will not pass through that border. As of that moment, the Israeli army must withdraw from Gaza. Then in a second phase we will talk about reopening the border crossings,” Sarkozy told a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris.

According to Israeli estimates, there were around 300 active smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor before Operation Cast Lead. At least half of them have been destroyed by the Israeli air and land forces.

One of the options being considered is deployment of an American military engineering force along the Philadelphi Corridor to assist the Egyptians in stopping the smuggling.

The Egyptians have also asked Israel to allow them to increase their Border Police force along the Gaza border, a move that would enable Egypt to crack down on the tunnel-smuggling industry more effectively.

Cairo believes that Israel is open to the idea and understands that if Egypt is to stand a chance at halting the smuggling, it will need a larger force than the 750 border policemen agreed upon following Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005.

UN DRAFTING GAZA PLAN TO REINSTATE PA

Jan 10. A day after the UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire was dismissed by both Israel and Hamas, a new plan was being hatched to reinstitute the Palestinian Authority on the Gaza-Egypt border, according to the British Times. The report said that the UN diplomats were drawing up a plan to bring in international monitors to police the Egypt-Gaza border.

According to the new plan, a triangle at the southern end of Gaza, including the Rafah crossing to Egypt and the Kerem Shalom crossing to Israel, would be policed by Turkish and French military monitors to stop arms smuggling into Gaza, while the Strip itself would return to the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.

EU monitors were previously installed on the border, but they fled when Hamas violently wrested the Strip from the hands of the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Since then, Egypt, which has been working to tone down the power of the fanatic Muslim Brotherhood inside Egypt, has shut the Gaza border on its own side, wary of an emerging terror base affiliated with the Brotherhood on its north eastern border.

Hamas in Gaza has been flouting Abbas’ authority since its takeover of the Strip, and now it has announced that after January 9, it would stop regarding him as the legal head of the West Bank as well.

Hamas says it will not allow monitors other than its own men on the side of the border it claims as its own.

EGYPT REFUSES TO STATION FOREIGN TROOPS ON GAZA BORDER

Jan 10. Egyptian efforts to broker a Gaza cease-fire appears to have run into trouble because of disagreements with Israel over how to secure the border to prevent Hamas from rearming. Israeli and European diplomats said Egypt had objections to proposals for foreign forces deploying on the Egyptian side of its 15-km (9-mile) border with the Gaza Strip.

The diplomats said an international deployment on the Palestinian side of the border was also unlikely because of objections from Hamas.

“IF CEASE-FIRE DEAL DOESN’T MEET ISRAEL’S DEMANDS,

GAZA OPERATION WILL CONTINUE”

Jan 8. Defence Minister Ehud Barak during a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said that “[Israel] is working to ensure that [Operation Cast Lead] creates a safer reality for the southern communities. We will not abandon this objective.”

Referring to the possibility of a cease-fire agreement with Hamas, Barak said that Israel “will examine it to make sure it leads to the creation of the desired reality. If it does not, the Israel Defence Forces will continue its operation in Gaza and possibly intensify it.”

Israeli Spokesman Mark Regev said Israel could accept the proposal if it halts hostile fire from Gaza and includes measures to prevent Hamas from rearming. “The talks continue on the basis of that initiative - a sustainable calm in the south will be based upon the total absence of hostile fire from Gaza into Israel and an effective arms embargo on Hamas that enjoys international support.”

HAMAS ARMED WING MAY RESIST CEASE-FIRE

Jan 7. Israel’s defence establishment believes that Hamas’ armed wing is likely to resist any ceasefire agreement, regardless of what the Islamist group’s political leadership decides.

Hamas, which comprises a military wing, as well as political leaderships in Gaza and Syria, does not make decisions as a unified body. Rather, the organization’s separate branches hold their own discussions.

According to this assessment, Hamas’ armed wing will not accept the Egyptian and French brokered truce proposal, which calls for an end to the smuggling of weapons and militants from Sinai.

HAMAS: WE REJECT A PERMANENT TRUCE

Jan 7. The deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau said his group is studying peace initiatives to end the violence in Gaza Strip but rejects a permanent truce with Israel.

Exiled Hamas leader Moussa Abou Marzouk said there will be no talks about a permanent cease-fire and that as long as there is an Israeli occupation, there will be resistance. Hamas received proposals from France, Turkey, Syria and Egypt to bring about a cease-fire, Abu Marzouk said, and it stands by its demands for an immediate end to Israel’s offensive, Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and the opening of the border with the strip.

A Hamas representative in Lebanon close to the group’s leadership in Syria, told al-Jazeera television that Hamas would not accept any initiative that does not include the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza and the opening of all of the territory’s border crossings.

“The idea of an international force is rejected and such forces that will come to Gaza to protect Israel, will be dealt with as enemy forces,” he said

   Jan 10.  Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, in Damascus, accused Israel of carrying out a “holocaust” in Gaza, and said Israel’s attack had destroyed any chance of a settlement agreement.

CEASEFIRE IS DANGEROUS

Dec. 30, 08. Former IDF Brig.-Gen. MK Effie Eitam says that a ceasefire now is practically an existential danger to the State of Israel. “We must understand that this war against the Hamas terrorist regime has ramifications well beyond the immediate outcome,” Eitam told Arutz-7’. “The entire Arab and terrorist worlds, especially Iran and the like, are watching Israel to see how it deals, yet again, with terror threats and rockets fired into its territory.” 

No Excuse This Time

Eitam noted that our lack of success last time, only two and a half years ago, set the stage for the war in Gaza:

“Our failure last time in Lebanon is that which created the present situation … Everything taking place now in Gaza is a direct imitation of what happened in Lebanon: the way they prepared themselves on the ground, firing rockets at our cities, etc.  In Lebanon, we had a few excuses, in that our army wasn’t perfectly ready, and Hizb’ullah had a home front behind them constantly re-supplying them and helping them – but here in Gaza this is not true: Our army is ready, there is no home front behind them (Hamas), and we will have no excuse for not dealing them a total defeat.”

“If we do not now effect the total defeat of a terrorist organization to the point where they get down on their knees and beg for mercy,” Eitam said, “we will face a deterrence-loss crisis much greater than that which occurred following the Second Lebanon War.”

MK Eitam defines this “total defeat of Hamas” as one in which “we deal a terrific blow to their military capabilities and to the desires of their decision-makers – if they are still around at the end; in my opinion they should not be - to resume firing rockets at us. Anything less will endanger us in the long run. Therefore, the test now is for the government leaders, not the army, which is ready and capable. If we fail, it will be a failure of the leadership. If they do half-a-job, it will have the gravest ramifications on our deterrence capability.”

“Hamas can easily decide to stop firing rockets for a few days,” Eitam said, “if that is the condition for a ceasefire - and then where will we be?  We will have had a small exchange of rockets between us, ending in a tie… We must not stop under any circumstances until we have achieved the objectives I stated above.”

“The very fact that Olmert, Livni and Barak are deliberating over this question of a ceasefire,” Eitam said, “proves why they must be voted out of power and not allowed to remain at the helm.  It was their governments that brought us to this situation in the first place – with the Disengagement from Gaza, which allowed them to prepare for this war, and then the decision to allow Hamas to run in the Gaza elections.”

“IT WILL END WITH A CEASEFIRE”

Rabbi Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, the Number Four man on the National Union’s Knesset list, thinks the leaders of Israel should follow King David’s advice from the Eighteenth Psalm regarding Gaza:

“I will chase my enemies and catch up to them and I shall not return until I annihilate them.” (Psalm 18:37)

“This should be the slogan of every leader and IDF commander,” he said. “The enemy must know that whoever raises his hand on Israel, we will teach him a lesson and annihilate him as well as all his helpers and supporters, and only thus will we take out their will to fire missiles at us.” However, he is under no illusions that the present government will do so.

“The conflict will be decided on the political level,” Ben-Ari predicted. “In the end, the Arabs’ pleas for a ceasefire will be heeded before we break the enemy’s will to fight, just like our humiliating defeat in the Second Lebanon War and Resolution 1701.”

“There will probably be an agreement on some kind of ceasefire but the enemy will never agree to lose their ability to rearm. Their entire existence depends on their ability to keep on hurting us,” he said.   -  IsraelNN.com

BUT ISRAELIS WANT VICTORY !

Israelis in general define victory as the destruction of the Hamas military and political leadership and the liberation of southern Israel from the constant threat of Hamas rocket, missile and mortar fire. Anything less than the accomplishment of these goals, they say, would make the situation worse because it would effectively be a victory for Hamas and a defeat for Israel.

And 94% of the Jewish Israeli population want Gilad Shalit to be liberated from his Gaza dungeon.

WILL ISRAEL COMPLETE THE JOB, OR WILL IT SURRENDER TO A COMPROMISE THAT WILL LEAVE HAMAS ALIVE IN GAZA?

Jan 11. This is the question going though “everyone’s” mind at this time.

Although Ehud Olmert said a few days ago that it was not Israel’s goal to destroy the Hamas leadership, Defence officials say they are prepared for a third stage of the offensive, in which ground troops would push much further into Gaza.

Moreover, the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were discussing classified information, said the army has also planned a fourth stage which calls for a full re-occupation of Gaza and the toppling of Hamas.

But there are fears that the current war will end up like the Lebanon war – in a dangerous compromise.

Caroline B. Glick who writes for the Jewish World Review, is a forthright critic of the Olmert-Livni-Barak coalition and their failed policies in Gaza, and in Lebanon, and their anemic performance over the last three years.

She is convinced that the Olmert government will not pursue the conflict until Israel’s objectives are fulfilled. Rather, it will be a repeat of the 2006 Lebanon fiasco in which international UNIFIL troops were brought in to monitor and enforce the UN ceasefire.

“These outside actors have done nothing of the sort. The European-commanded UNIFIL force in Lebanon has instead acted as a shield defending Hizb’ullah from Israel. Under UNIFIL’s blind eye, Iran and Syria have tripled the size of Hizb’ullah’s pre-war missile arsenal. And Hizb’ullah has taken full control over some 130 villages along the border.

“In a similar fashion, today the government is insisting on the establishment of an international monitoring force, comprised perhaps of Egyptian, Israeli, Fatah-affiliated Palestinian, American and European officials that will monitor Gaza’s border with Egypt and somehow prevent weapons smuggling.

“It ignores the fact that similar, already existing, theoretically friendly monitoring forces - like the US-commanded Multi-National Force Observers in the Sinai - have done nothing to prevent or even keep tabs on weapons transfers to Hamas.”

But Glick admits Israel may emerge as the perceived victor in the current campaign.

“Firstly, Hamas’ leaders are reportedly hiding in hospitals - cynically using the sick as human shields. And the Hamas leadership in Damascus have sent representatives to their new arch-enemy Egypt to begin discussing cease-fire terms. Taken together, these moves could indicate that Hamas is collapsing. But they could also indicate that Hamas is opting to fight another day - assuming that Israel will agree to let it do so.”

“Secondly, Hamas may be defeated because much to everyone’s surprise, Iran may have decided to let Hamas lose. Like Hizb’ullah, Hamas is an Iranian proxy. And just as was the case in 2006, Iran was instrumental in inciting the current war.

Iran prepared Hamas for this war. It used Hamas’ six-month cease-fire with Israel to double both the range and the size of Hamas’ missile arsenal. It trained Hamas’ 20,000-man army for this war. And as the six months drew to a close, Iran incited Hamas to attack.

But today Iran seems to have little interest in expanding the war and saving Hamas from military defeat and humiliation.

Glick says there are many possible explanations for Iran’s inaction.  Two are:

1. “There is the fact that war is an expensive proposition and Iran today is in trouble because of the big plunge in the price of oil. (Oil is Iran’s chief money-earner).  Iran has been begging OPEC to cut back supply quotas to jack up the price of oil. But, perhaps in its interest of weakening Iran, Saudi Arabia has consistently refused Iran’s requests.

2. “There is Iran’s political weakness. Washington-based Iran expert Michael Ledeen argued that Iran’s apparent decision to sit this war out may well be the result of the regime’s weakness. Its recent crackdown on Irani dissidents - with the execution of nine people on Christmas Day - and the unleashing of regime supporters in riots against the Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, Turkish and French embassies, as well as the home of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, lends to the conclusion that the regime is worried about its own survival. Ledeen says Tehran may view another expensive terror war as a spark which could incite a popular revolution or simply destabilize the country ahead of June’s scheduled presidential elections.”

IRAN AND HIZB’ULLAH RESTRAINED

In spite of all its anti-Israel rhetoric (like “10,000 Iranians volunteer as suicide bombers to fight Israel”), Iran has evidently deterred Hizb’ullah from starting a second front. Maybe for the same as those above.

And Hizb’ullah also, with an eye on its own national elections in mid year, does not want to jeopardise its chances of winning by bringing calamity on Lebanon by another unpopular war with Israel – at this time.

And Iran, moreover, does not want to see its Lebanese delivery systems destroyed in a local war – when those systems will be needed if and when Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear installations - in 2009.

(Last month, a French parliamentary report on Iran’s nuclear program concluded that Iran will have passed the nuclear threshold by the end of 2009 and will become a nuclear power no later than 2011. Other reports say Iran has already passed the threshold.)

So political and financial events could be restraining both Iran and Hizb’ullah, and giving Israel a free hand in its Cast Lead operation. But there is no guarantee that Israel will complete the job!

A DEBKAfile report suggests it will do so ...

IDF POISED FOR NEXT STAGE. 

ULTIMATUM TO HAMAS

DEBKAfile reports, (Jan 12, 09), that Israel and Egypt are playing hard ball with a Hamas delegation who arrived in Cairo on 10th January to seek a ceasefire in Gaza hostilities.

When Ehud Olmert said, “We are closer than ever before to ending the rocket fire and getting Hamas’ arms traffic under control,” he may have had in mind the “ball game” going on in Cairo.

DEBKAfile says Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman rejected Hamas negotiators’ appeal for compromises and told them the deal on offer was take-it-or-leave-it: Accept or face an all-out Israeli assault on all fronts.

This was the first time the Egyptian government has used Israeli military gains as currency to further its national interests, namely, breaking the back of an Islamist movement deemed a destabilizing element for the Mubarak regime.

Suleiman informed the Palestinian delegation that Israel was holding out for Hamas to collect all its rockets and missile stocks, and weapons in the hands of other Palestinian terrorist groups, and turn them over to a third party. This party would also take charge of security in the Philadelphi Corridor. Hamas would be given a month to implement the handover, but no longer.

Israel was also adamant about retaining its army on the battle lines held in the Gaza Strip when the ceasefire goes into effect until a new military mechanism is put in place on the Philadelphi Corridor and has proved capable of effectively stemming the arms traffic entering through tunnels from outside sources.

The Hamas negotiators also ran into a blank Egyptian wall when they proposed setting a six-month time cap on the proposed ceasefire and reopening the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Sinai as a face-saving gesture to mark the onset of a truce. Suleiman said firmly that Rafah would reopen only when all six Gaza crossings into Israel were reactivated by Palestinian Authority personnel and European military monitors.

Sunday, an Egyptian military plane ferried the Hamas-Gaza delegation to Damascus to seek the endorsement of hard-line Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal for the truce terms dictated by Egypt and Israel. Gen. Suleiman directed them to pass this message on to Mashaal: “Give up your illusions; Hamas’ only remaining option now is to bow to the Middle East Quartet’s primary condition: Recognize Israel.”

But ... Jan 12. The Gaza Hamas faction failed to persuade its Damascus leaders to accept the Egyptian ceasefire terms and was ordered to carry on fighting in the Gaza Strip.

It is now up to the Israeli defense cabinet to decide whether Israeli forces stand still on their present battle lines or go forward to the crunch, which means entering Gaza City proper and capturing the Philadelphi smuggling corridor.

                                                                                        http://www.debka.com/index1.php

 

IRAN WARNS HAMAS NOT TO ACCEPT TRUCE

Jan 13. Iran is reportedly exerting heavy pressure on Hamas not to accept the proposal for a cease-fire with Israel.

“As soon as the Iranians heard about the Egyptian cease-fire initiative, they dispatched the two officials to Damascus on an urgent mission to warn the Palestinians against accepting it,” an Egyptian government official said.

“The Iranians threatened to stop weapons supplies and funding to the Palestinian factions if they agreed to a cease-fire with Israel. The Iranians want to fight Israel and the US indirectly. They are doing this through Hamas in Palestine and Hizb’ullah in Lebanon.”

ANOTHER DANGER

Even if Hamas is totally removed from power in Gaza, Israel’s problems will not be over. If authority in Gaza is restored to the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas, tremendous pressure will then be applied to establish a “united” Palestinian state, especially after Obama and Clinton enter the fray.

But Fatah as a peace-loving neighbour to Israel, is by no means assured; rather, it is highly unlikely.  The following commentary brings out the very real danger:

TO WIN AGAINST HAMAS IS TO LOSE!

Most of Israel’s supporters believe that the forces should complete the job and eliminate Hamas. But there is another side to this question, as Stan Goodenough explains in the Jerusalem Watchman.

Jan 4. I pray for courage, protection and enhanced fighting ability for the Israeli soldiers. I pray for their safe return to their families. And I pray for wisdom and divine guidance for the military and political leaders in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Regarding Hamas, I pray for failure, for repeated frustration of their efforts, and the efforts of the other terrorist groups, in Gaza.

What I am NOT able to pray for is the successful crushing of Hamas right now. For I do not believe that any answer lies in the return of Gaza to the PLO under Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (or his successor).

On the contrary – for Israel, such a development would be like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. In this sense, more than the “quagmire” Israel fears, Gaza is a real snare for the Jewish state. Let me paint a scenario that will hopefully explain why . . . .

The international community fails to secure and enforce a ceasefire in time to stop Israel from devastating Hamas, killing and imprisoning the leadership and severely degrading its weapons. In reality the half-hearted condemnations of Israel have hardly pressured Jerusalem up to now.

Gaza is handed back to the PLO-run Palestinian Authority – the movement that has been portrayed as “moderate” alongside Hamas.

Immediately the world – including those western powers that are now tempering their criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza, and headed by a new American administration whose president is being swept into office on an enormous wave of popularity that will render him extremely powerful and influential - insists that the climate is finally ripe for the peace process to resume.

The Israeli electorate, thankful to the Kadima Party for effectively dealing with Hamas, makes Tzipi Livni – who is fully committed to the US-pushed two-state vision – their new prime minister.

“We need to change the equation,” Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni reiterated in France on January 1st.

And in a January 2, 2009 Washington Post column, former Israeli Deputy-Minister of Defence Ephraim Sneh called for “a comprehensive solution” to the Gaza crisis that would see the Hamas terror group of Khaled Mashaal replaced by the PLO terror group of Mahmoud Abbas.

What little resistance there still is among the rest of Israel’s politicians to the creation of a State of Palestine on the Jews’ historic homeland is washed aside by this overwhelming flood of support for it, and with the “new reality on the ground.”

Even if the Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu is elected prime minister, the “New Middle East Order” that will exist with Gaza back in the PA’s hands, and the “new world order” that will be our reality with Obama in the White House, will be pretty well impossible to resist.

No – wiping Hamas out and handing the reins back to Mahmoud Abbas would not be a positive development in the long run. Ultimately it could lead to even worse terrorism and war than Israel has experienced in the south – hard as that may be to believe.

Let me stress this: It is absolutely essential that we keep our eyes and our prayers focused on the core issue: Israel’s homeland and the efforts to wrest it from the Jews.     -  Used by permission:  Jerusalem Watchman /   http://www.stangoodenough.com/

The writer of this commentary, Stan Goodenough, would like to see Israel retake the Gaza and to hold on to all of its covenanted land.  He says, “In fact, the land-for-peace formula must be totally revised and reversed. For Israel does not have land to give; and the Palestinians do not have peace to give.”

The Olmert-Livni government have earlier followed a rational approach, and have been bending over backwards to appease “moderate” Arabs, and to surrender more and more parts of God’s land - to the enemies of His covenant - the covenant that is for ever. YHWH told Moses long ago:

“The land shall never ever be sold beyond reclaim (permanently), for the land is Mine; for you are but strangers and settlers with Me.”   (Leviticus 25:23)

Gaza was clearly part of the promised land given to Israel (Genesis 15:18) - to Judah in particular, and it was captured by Joshua. (Joshua 15:47)

                 WHERE ARE WE NOW?     

The cover story of TIME magazine (Jan 19, 09) has the title, WHY ISRAEL CAN’T WIN. The article sums up the situation: “The assault on Gaza, no matter how it ends, will not ease the Jewish state’s existential anxiety. Peace, not war, is its only hope.”

Sure, but they have been trying for peace for decades!

Prophetically, we know there will be no true peace until the Messiah establishes the Millennial Kingdom.

And Gaza, the West Bank, and the Arab nations will never have true lasting peace with Israel, even though the Man of Sin arbitrates the 7-year peace deal.

But when will the Messiah come to Israel?  Y’shua Himself said, “You will not see me until you sayBaruk haba b’Shem Adonai’.” - “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD.” (Luke 11:35)

There is a Deliverer for Israel - Yahweh who is mighty to save! Yahweh, manifest in Y’shua the Messiah.

But first, Israel needs to turn to Y’shua the Anointed One - the One who died on the cross to provide redemption and deliverance for Israel, and for all of us.

“O Israel; return to YHWH your God.”   (Hosea 14:1)

Until then, Israel will not know the powerful spiritual anointing that it so desperately needs. 

Now it’s true, Israel may suffer from constant threats and attacks, but Israel will not be destroyed, even when Iran perfects its nuclear weapons.  It is Iran that will be wiped out, along with Russia, when they come up against God’s land.

“And with pestilence and with bloodshed I shall execute judgment upon him; and I shall rain on him, and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones and burning sulphur.” (Ezekiel 38:22)

“Listen! I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; I will turn you around and drive you on. I will bring you from the remotest parts of the north, and send you against the mountains of Israel.

…. You will fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops, and the nations who are with you. I will give you as food to birds of prey of every kind and to the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Master, YHWH. I will also send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands. Then they will know that I am YHWH.”  (Ezekiel 39:1-2, 4-6)

But for the times ahead, Israel is destined for continuous bouts of war as Daniel says:

“There will be war until the end; and desolations have been decreed.”  (Daniel 9:26)

And the prophecy in Psalm 83 and Zechariah 12 will also be fulfilled.

 “They have said, ‘Come, and let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’  For they have conspired together with one mind; they make a pact against You - Edom, the Ishmaelites, Philistia (Gaza), the inhabitants of Tyre (Lebanon), Assyria (Iraq) also.”                ( Psalm 83:4-8)

(Watch Iraq – as British and American troops pull out their troops beginning this year, Iran will seek to move in to fulfil the “vacuum”, and the Tehran-backed Shia majority will join in the fray against Israel!)

A PROMISE FOR ISRAEL

“They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you, says YHWH, to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:19)

“In that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a burning pot in a woodpile, and like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples; and Jerusalem will be inhabited again on her own sites - in Jerusalem. YHWH will save the tents of Judah first, in order that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not be greater than that of Judah.

“In that day YHWH will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of YHWH going before them. And it will come about in that day that I will set out to destroy all the nations that come up against Jerusalem.

“And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication, so they will look on Me, the One they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly for Him, like the bitter weeping over a lost first-born.” (Zechariah 12:6-10)

These prophecies are still ahead, and I expect they will take place early in the 7-year Great Tribulation.

THE PRESENT SITUATION

The Gaza conflict will end, I expect, before you receive this Alert. Hamas has been badly battered but it will survive. (So far there have been no leaders emerging from their hideouts with their hands up! ) And again, Israel has not secured the release of Gilad Shalit who was captured by Gazan terrorists 2½ years ago.

Hamas is preparing to claim victory - on the basis of its own survival, and the fact that Israel, the most powerful military in the Middle East, was “not able” to wipe it out.

The exact terms of the cease-fire agreement are being thrashed out even as I finalise this Alert and send it to the press. I’ll leave you to read or hear those details in the news media in the next few days.

Egypt is insisting that the Palestinian Authority under Mahmound Abbas must be involved in the control of Gaza’s borders. Egypt has a compelling interest to prevent a Hamas remake, and its control of the border.

Israel is insisting on a total absence of all hostile fire from Gaza into Israel, and an internationally supported mechanism that will prevent the rebuilding of tunnels, and Hamas rearming.”

Hamas says it is willing only for a 6-month truce. It does not want the PA involved with the borders; but it wants Gaza’s borders to be open.  It is not likely to get that for a very long time.

Like Hizb’ullah, Hamas will contravene embargoes and agreements, and build up again; and on the strength of its “victory,” it is likely to instigate situations through which it may gain control of the Palestinian Authority.

It remains to be seen who will compromise, and who will get their own way. There may be a time of quiet for some time, but Israel will be threatened again before long.  That’s the way it will be until after Psalm 83 and Zechariah 12 are fulfilled.

The big issue now looming is Iran and its nuclear program. The whole world is preparing for World War, and for the New World Order. Gordon Brown is only one who is calling for a NWO and a new financial system.  Barack Obama will undoubtedly be another.

And while there’s no real shalom – no true peace - in the world, for the believer there is our Father’s promise:

“Do not be anxious about anything - do not worry at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through the Messiah, Y’shua.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

My dear reader, if you do not know Y’shua, Jesus the Messiah, as your own personal Saviour, that promise may not mean much to you, because you can only come to God through the Messiah – He is the Saviour of all who call upon Him.

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”       (Acts 4:12)

Is there a battle still raging within your heart, my friend? If so, I want you to know you can enjoy peace with God – the peace that Christ obtained for you through His sacrifice on the cross. (Colossians 1:20)?

So pray to the Heavenly Father, confessing that you are a lost sinner needing His peace and salvation. Confess that you believe in the Lord Jesus – that He is indeed the living Saviour who died for you, and who rose from the dead. And then ask Him, and trust Him, to save you today.

IN TIMES LIKE THESE

In these times of terrorism, financial crisis, constant disasters, and anxiety, the most important thing that every one of us needs is a strong faith in Y’shua who promises to uphold us in His mighty hands, during the stormy gales, and turbulent seas.

This faith is expressed in this old song by James McGranahan:

When the storms of life are raging,

tempests wild on sea and land,

I will seek a place of refuge

in the shadow of God’s Hand.

Though He may send some affliction,

’twill but make me long for home,

For in love and not in anger,

all His chastenings will come.

Enemies may strive to injure,

Satan all his arts employ.

God will turn what seems to harm me,

into everlasting joy.

So while here the cross I’m bearing,

meeting storms and billows wild,

Jesus, for my soul is caring,

nought can harm His Father’s child.

He will hide me, He will hide me,

where no harm can ever betide (trouble) me;

He will hide me, safely hide me,

in the shadow of His Hand.

                             (Alexander’s Hymns 172)

And another old song says:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the LORD has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?

Count your many blessings every doubt will fly,

And you will keep singing as the days go by.

My dear reader, let’s start counting the blessings! And God bless you!

 

 

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