Sunday, January 4, 2009

Middle East Update

Much has happened in Israel in the past week, and I will try to summarize what has occurred, what is happening now, and where I feel this may go in the next week. As I hope you know by now, Israeli forces began to attack Hamas missile launching sites in the Gaza strip last week. Using the Israeli Air Force, precision bombs targeted these launching sites to great effect. They then began targeting the Hamas infrastructure by attacking government office buildings, police stations, and even the homes of the Hamas leaders. This was followed by attacks on known bomb and rocket stockpiles, as well as the tunnels used to smuggle these arms into Gaza from Egypt. These attacks have been successful in severely crippling the ability of Hamas to attack Israel, but unfortunately it has come with an unfortunate price.

It has always been the habit of Hamas to hide themselves among the general population in order to attempt to keep Israel from directly attacking them. It is their standard operating procedure to operate from schools, hospitals, mosques, even orphanages in an attempt to escape retaliation for their attacks on Israel. Although Israel has made every attempt to warn the civilian population to flee and not allow Hamas to use them as shields, civilian casualties are mounting as Hamas forces these unfortunate people to stay.

The good news from the Israeli side is that their attacks are severely crippling Hamas, and most of their forces under the age of 25 or so have deserted and refused to fight. The rest have retreated to tunnels in an attempt to hide from the Israeli attacks. This is why on Saturday morning the Israeli army began a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip in an attempt to once and for all root out the remaining Hamas forces, and find the remaining armament stockpiles and destroy them. As of this morning the good news is that there have been no Israeli casualties reported, and only two severely wounded soldiers.

There have been, however, developments that bode ill towards Israel that may in fact relate to the prophecy of Isaiah 17 that I believe is the next prophecy regarding Israel that the Bible tells us will occur. On Tuesday of this last week Hamas launched Grad type rockets at the town of Beersheva, located in the south of Israel. Two important points need to be recognized here. One, these rockets came from Iran, smuggled through tunnels from Egypt, and also on freighters to the coast of Gaza. Two, these are not the only rockets Hamas has from Iran. They have also been given Fajr-3 rockets which have a much longer range. Why is this important? Simply because Israels' nuclear installation at Dimona is only 20 miles east of Beersheva, and I hope you know by now that the prophecy of Isaiah 17 refers to the area of Dimona coming under attack. The only question left unanswered is will Hamas decide to use these rockets to attack Dimona?

As this week progresses and Israels' forces begin to squeeze the Gaza Strip to flush out the remaining resistance Hamas is faced with a serious dilemma. If they do not launch these missiles two things will likely happen. One, obviously, they will lose them to Israel who will most assuredly destroy them. Two, if they allow that to happen, Iran would probably decide to never give them any more, and Hamas would lose not only their ability to attack Israel, but lose face with other terrorist organizations in the Middle East as well as their own supporters.

I believe this week will go a long way in deciding the immediate future of the Middle East and Israels' relationship with the Arab world. Those organizations that oppose Israel find themselves in a very awkward position. If they remain on the sidelines and allow Hamas to fail, they lose their credibility and most likely a good portion of their support. It sends the message that if you want to attack Israel, you are on your own. I truly believe that Iran and Syria will not remain neutral much longer. Yesterday Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council arrived in Syria for talks with Bashar Assad, president of Syria. Reports are that what was discussed was an attack by Hizbullah as a result of the ground incursion of Gaza. If Israel is attacked by Hizbullah in the north, and Hamas from the west, to what degree will it respond? Especially if the decision to attack Israels' nuclear capability is made? It appears that all the pieces are beginning to fall into place concerning much of what the Bible has to say about the last days.

As we watch the events in the Middle East unfold, please remember to pray for the people affected by this conflict, and to pray for the peace that only God can bring to this part of the world. Keep watching.