“Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.” Micah 4:11-12
Dear Intercessors for Israel:
In what has been called a “limited conflict,” earlier this past week Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired over 130 rockets and mortars into the Israeli border communities surrounding the Gaza Strip. One rocket struck a playground outside an Israeli kindergarten, just one hour before classes convened. Other rockets damaged two transformers at the power station in Ashkelon. (Israel provides the majority of electricity to the Gaza Strip) Hamas terrorists, by targeting this site, deliberately plunged the Gaza Strip into darkness. Heavy machine gun fire also hit houses in Sderot. Incendiary “kites” were also flown by Hamas terrorists and ignited over 3000 acres of farmland in Israel along with destroying a nature reserve.
Over the course of 22 hours, from 7 a.m. Tuesday to 5:17 a.m. Wednesday, sirens were triggered at least 166 times in southern Israel, according to the IDF Home Front Command, by mortar fire, rockets or, in some cases, heavy machine gun fire. The army said it determined that on Tuesday and Wednesday over 100 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip and were on a trajectory to hit Israel. A large number of the projectiles launched from Gaza failed to clear the border and thus were not included in the military’s figure. The number of rockets and mortar shells fired over the course of those 22 hours was greater than in the previous three years and 10 months, since the 2014 war, combined. (www.timesofisrael.com )
Dozens of the incoming mortar shells and rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, which proved relatively successful for the first time against short-range mortar fire. Others landed in open fields in southern Israel. A small number landed inside Israeli communities, including a mortar round that directly hit a home in the Eshkol region and the shell that exploded in the yard of a kindergarten. Parts of a rocket also struck a sports center in the town of Netivot, causing damage to the facility but no injuries.
Israeli Air Force Strikes
The Israel air force in return struck dozens of military sites in Gaza overnight as rocket fire continued toward southern Israeli communities into early Wednesday morning, setting off air raid sirens in the area throughout the night. The military said it hit drone storage facilities, military compounds, and rocket and munition workshops across the Gaza Strip. According to the military, among the targets struck by the air force were a terror tunnel that extended into Israel, Hamas drone facilities, naval bases, caches of shoulder-fired SA-7 missiles, and a rocket manufacturing plant. In addition, the army said, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad weapons depot, containing locally produced rockets, was also destroyed in southern Gaza. Neither Hamas or the Islamic Jihad Organizations reported suffering any causalities.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers said Wednesday they had agreed to a cease-fire with Israel to end the largest flare-up of violence between the two sides since the 2014 war. Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, said Egyptian mediators intervened “after the resistance succeeded in warding off the aggression.” He said that “the militant groups in Gaza will commit to the cease-fire as long as Israel does”. (www.ynetnews.com)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel gave Palestinian terror groups in Gaza “the strongest blow dealt to them in years,” and warned against renewed rocket fire. “When they try us, they pay immediately. And if they continue to try us, they will pay a lot more,” (www.jpost.com ). It was clear though that neither Israel nor the Palestinian factions in Gaza went full bore in their attacks, a sign that neither side was interested in escalating hostilities. Militants in Gaza did not fire long-range rockets at Israel’s major cities, as they did in 2014, and Israeli airstrikes zeroed in on only unmanned military targets.
A Conflict Among Enemies
The Gaza Strip is an independent enclave along Israel’s southern border and home to some two million Arabs (www.indexmundi.com). It is governed by Iranian supported organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Their joint aim and vision is the complete destruction of Israel. The Palestinian Authority also seeks to play a role in governing this strip but has been successfully shut out by the other groups. In response the P.A. has not paid wages this month to its 38,000 Gaza employees (www.reuters.com).
In April 2017, Abbas reduced Gaza salaries by 30 percent. He has also slashed PA staff numbers in Gaza from 60,000 by ordering early retirement for nearly a third of employees. These “cuts” and “non-payments” directly affect the ability of Hamas to collect tax revenue from its citizens. Hamas also suffers budgetary shortfalls caused by Egypt’s closure of smuggling tunnels from its Sinai Peninsula to Gaza. The Islamist faction had collected tax on goods brought in through the tunnels. More than half of Gazans depend on international aid, and 43.6 percent of workers are unemployed, the highest rate in the world (www.reuters.coom).
Analysts say that the recent attacks against Israel reflect a growing conflict of aims by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The attempt by Hamas to portray its demonstrations along Israel’s borders as being non-violent was unsuccessful. Hamas’ clashes against Israel were largely met with indifference by other nations. Only Turkish President Erdogan and Iranian leaders supported these clashes. Islamic Jihad leaders then decided to make their move against Israel by launching rockets and mortars. This “limited conflict” returned the “plight” of the Gazans back into the news and appeared to portray Hamas as being powerless. The United Nations Security Council refused to condemn these attacks. The nation of Kuwait, a temporary member successfully blocked a resolution condemning the Gaza Strip for its rockets against Israel.
A Bag Full of Holes
The Gaza Strip has always had the potential to be an economic goldmine, except its leaders want to pursue warfare against Israel. World nations and leaders in the past have proposed building a modern harbor, a major highway to Hebron, a modern electrical facility, desalination plants, a state of the art sewage disposal site and forming tax havens like Monaco. Monies and funds have been pledged to turn this Strip into a prosperous area, but these funds have all been siphoned off by Hamas. Furthermore, the Gaza Strip has billions of dollars of natural gas reserves off of its seacoast but has failed to develop these resources. Instead, by choosing to fight Israel, they have earned wages and stored them in a bag full of holes. (Hag. 1:6).
Pray for people of the Gaza Strip. Pray for a change in leadership. Pray that the “ungodly would become as chaff in the wind” (Ps. 1:4). Pray that those who sit in darkness would see a Great Light: Jesus. Pray that during this Muslim season of Ramadan fasting, that many would see Jesus in dreams and visions, and come to him. Pray for the persecuted Christians who live there.
Pray for those Israelis who live near the Gaza Strip. Pray that they would have shalom peace in their communities. Pray Psalm 91 over Israelis border communities, that those who dwell there would not fear the arrow by day, nor the terror by night (Ps. 91:5). Pray that the LORD would continue to cover these communities with His protection (Ps. 91:4).
One of Jerusalem’s hidden treasures can be found in the Alliance Cemetery, located in the German Colony. Dereck Prince, Lance Lambert and many other faithful believers are buried there. Here in a six and half year project, artist Patricia Solveson painted a mural on its walls, depicting biblical events from Genesis to Revelation. The mural is longer than a football field.
Now this mural is in danger of being destroyed. Developers have purchased the land next to the cemetery’s walls and are starting to excavate the ground in order to build apartments and offices. The wall and its mural have already been damaged, and lawyers from both sides have taken this to the Court. A decision will be made soon as to “who” owns the wall. Three options have been presented: 1). Alliance Cemetery owns it, 2). The development company owns it, or 3). Each side owns half of it.
Please pray that this mural can be preserved and protected. It serves as a great witness to many in Jerusalem. Funds are urgently needed for legal fees by the Alliance Church. For more information and photos of the mural, go to www.gofundme.com/Savethemural
Marylois and I left Jerusalem and the House of Peace this past Tuesday. After a night of flying, we arrived in the United States. We were sad to leave the many friends we have there and the work of the ministry but pressed to go. We are currently in Asheville, N.C. with family. We will be returning to Engeltal in the following weeks to prepare for the 40th ETH&S World Convention in Springdale, Arkansas, July 2-6th. Please plan on meeting us there!
Gene and Marylois/House of Peace