Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, May 21, 2021

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Every week, we post seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Tense Calm Holds as 11-Day Conflict Ends in Cease-fire

by Kate Norman

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An IDF soldier guarding the Gaza border (illustrative)

Friday, 21 May 2021 | After 11 days of a nearly uninterrupted barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip, answered by Israeli military strikes on terror targets in the enclave, Israel and Hamas have reached a cease-fire.

Despite disagreements over the terms of the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, which went into effect at 2 a.m. Thursday morning, the newfound calm seems to be holding.

The cease-fire was announced around 10 p.m. Thursday night. Making the most of their last few hours, rocket alert sirens sounded in the Israeli communities bordering Gaza as terrorists fired off the last few rounds of projectiles toward the Jewish state.

Israel was prepared in the event that the terrorists decided they just couldn’t quit launching rockets even after the 2 a.m. deadline.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman said the military warned Hamas that it would respond should the terrorist group attack after 2 a.m., and even backed up the promise by keeping Israeli jets circling the Gazan skies in the hours before the deadline.

Hamas and Israeli leaders disagree over the cease-fire terms, however. The terrorist group’s foreign relations chief said Israel had made promises about its security personnel on the Temple Mount as well as the impending removal of Arab squatters from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, the Times of Israel reported.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz dismissed that as “completely false,” according to the Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the “mutual cease-fire without preconditions” in a statement released by his office Thursday night.

The chiefs of the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israeli internal security organization) described to Israel’s top ministers the “significant achievements in the operation, some of which are unprecedented,” Netanyahu stated.

The prime minister noted that Israel’s Security Cabinet unanimously voted for the cease-fire at the recommendation of the Jewish state’s top military, security and defense personnel.

Nonetheless, Hamas and the Palestinian people claimed victory, with Hamas leaders boasting and people flooding the streets of Gaza as well as eastern Jerusalem to celebrate and chant “Allahu akkhbar” (“Allah is greatest”).

“This is the euphoria of victory,” senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said, as quoted by the Times of Israel, amid a throng of Palestinians celebrating in the streets, waving Palestinian flags and taking selfies.

The numbers don’t seem to add up to a victory for the Gazan terrorists, however.

Over the 11 days of constant rockets, 12 civilians were killed in Israel: nine Israeli citizens, including a 5-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl, a disabled man and an elderly grandmother. The other three killed were foreign workers: two men from Thailand and one woman from India.

Two IDF soldiers were wounded, one who was injured last week by anti-tank missile fire, and another who was injured on Wednesday while assisting in a shipment of much-needed humanitarian aid supplies into Gaza.

But it wasn’t just Israelis who were hurt and killed in the attacks. In the more than 4,300 rockets fired from Gaza, about 15% of them failed to clear the border or misfired, killing innocent civilians in the Strip, including children. The number of such casualties is unknown, as the health ministry in Gaza is run by Hamas, who spreads misinformation and often blames Israel for the death of its people killed in misfires.

Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defense system had a 90% success rate of intercepting the incoming rockets. However, Israel still had to respond to the constant barrage of rockets aimed toward its civilians across the country.

Launching Operation Guardian of the Walls, the IDF responded to the rocket attacks by conducting retaliatory strikes in Gaza, targeting terrorist leaders and military targets in an attempt to cripple Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ’s) infrastructure and ability to continue attacking Israel.

Over the course of the operation, the IDF announced that it struck more than 1,000 terror targets, including more than 100 kilometers (62 mi.) of Hamas’s terror tunnels, multiple rockets and rocket launchers, mortars, weapons storage and production sites, Hamas intel and security offices, banks that managed terrorist funds, command rooms and the homes of Hamas and PIJ chiefs.

The Israeli military also targeted terrorists, reportedly killing more than 200 Hamas and PIJ operatives as well as eliminating 25 terror chiefs.

Amid the surgical strikes, the IDF went to great lengths to prevent innocent civilian casualties in Gaza, often warning any civilians in range of a strike to evacuate the area immediately or even calling off impending strikes when spotting nearby civilians.

Now as the dust settles, Israel is enjoying the longest stretch of peace and quiet it has experienced since Hamas first fired rockets on Jerusalem nearly two weeks ago.

Some Israelis down south are exiting their bomb shelters for the first time since the barrages started.

Despite its terrorist infrastructure being hobbled and its top chiefs being eliminated, Hamas and PIJ too are enjoying the newfound quiet, with terror chiefs crawling out of their underground shelters to declare victory.

Israelis are preparing to enter into Shabbat (Sabbath), hoping that the cease-fire will hold, hoping for the first truly quiet period of rest after such a volatile 11 days.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 21, 2021)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that Israel was able to reach its goal of crippling Hamas and obtained significant—even unprecedented—achievements in the operation. Pray that the agreement reached will be solid and effective in insuring the end of violence and the security of the people of Israel.

Scripture

“Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”


- Deuteronomy 20:3b–4

Israel Explains to World IDF Efforts to Protect Innocent in Gaza

by Joshua Spurlock

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 | Against the backdrop of Gaza terrorists firing rockets while hiding behind their own people as human shields, Israel is taking multi-level steps to avoid civilian casualties in responding to the attacks—and on Saturday they highlighted this effort to the world. The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Twitter page, in a series of tweets, explained how Israel approaches tall buildings in Gaza used by terrorists for military purposes.

“The Israel Defense Forces struck a number of such buildings in recent days, but before we did so, we took steps to try and ensure that civilians would not be harmed,” said the posts. “We called the building’s residents and warned them to leave. We sent SMS [text] messages. We dropped ‘roof knocker’ bombs; they make loud noises and hit only the roof. We provided sufficient time to evacuate.”

This effort to protect civilians can sometimes mean Israel’s air strikes on terrorist targets are less effective. A series of posts highlighted the Israeli efforts to avoid innocent casualties in striking Al Jala Tower in Gaza. While the building was used by international media in Gaza, the IDF tweets noted it was also used as a Hamas base that “gathered intel for attacks against Israel, manufactured weapons & positioned equipment to hamper IDF operations.”

Despite the significance of the Hamas base, the IDF posts said that Israel “warned civilians in the building about our strike out of concern for their safety & gave them enough time to safely evacuate. Hamas & Islamic Jihad used this time to take items out of the building. We were willing to pay that price to not harm any civilians.”

In addition to risking a military advantage by allowing civilians to escape, Israel has also taken the approach of canceling an attack altogether to prevent collateral damage. A Twitter post on Sunday showed a video in which an Israeli air strike is called off because of the apparent “possibility” that children were present. Said the tweet, “Fighting a terrorist organization that operates within civilian areas isn’t easy.”

Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] reiterated this Israeli approach in his comments with United States President Joe Biden on Saturday. In a press release about the call, Israel said Netanyahu “emphasized that Israel is doing everything to avoid harming persons who are uninvolved; the proof of this is that the buildings in which terrorist targets are being hit by the IDF are evacuated of uninvolved persons.”

In separate comments to the public on Saturday, Netanyahu contrasted Israel’s approach to the innocent with that of Hamas. “I want to remind the world that in firing on our cities, Hamas is committing a double war crime. They’re targeting our civilians and hiding behind Palestinian civilians, effectively using them as human shields,” said Netanyahu in a statement released by his office.

“As always, Israel is doing everything possible to protect our civilians and keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way. We demonstrated this yet again today when we warned civilians to vacate the building used by the Hamas terror intelligence. They vacated the premises before the target was destroyed and that’s why you don’t hear of casualties from these collapsing terror towers because we take special care to avoid these civilian casualties, exactly the opposite of Hamas.”

And it’s not only Israeli civilians being hit by Hamas rockets. In a tragic twist of irony, the IDF reported on Twitter that as of Sunday, a stunning 439 rockets fired by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the last week had ended up crashing into Gaza instead of Israel. This resulted in causing “around 20 Palestinian casualties” per the IDF post.

“That’s 15% of their launches,” continued the IDF. “Think of it this way: About 1 in 7 rockets that Hamas fires—it fires at its own people.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Mideast Update on May 16, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that Israel can boast the most moral army on earth. Thank the Lord that IDF soldiers are taught to value and protect all human life, even to their own detriment. Cry out to Him that the nations will recognize the care that Israel takes to minimize civilian casualties, and pray for an outcry against Hamas’s use of civilians as human shields.

Scripture

“When the army goes out against your enemies, then keep yourself from every wicked thing.”


- Deuteronomy 23:9

EU Foreign Ministers to Arrive in Israel in Show of Solidarity

by Itamar Eichner

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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

Thursday, 20 May 2021 | The foreign ministers of Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia will arrive in Israel on Thursday in a show of solidarity and support of the Jewish state.

The three diplomats were invited by Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. Their visit to Israel comes off the heels of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias’s visit to the country earlier in the week.

Additional visits by other foreign dignitaries are expected next week, as part of Israel’s effort to strengthen its legitimacy during the current round of fighting against Gaza’s terrorist factions.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass is expected to land at Ben Gurion Airport Thursday morning, followed by the Czech Republic’s Jakub Kulhánek and Slovakia’s Ivan Korčok.

The diplomats will meet with Ashkenazi and will travel to a crash site of a Hamas rocket to witness the destruction firsthand. Later, they are expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Maas himself is also slated to meet with Palestinian [Authority] Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah.

“The foreign ministers’ visit to Israel is a demonstration of solidarity and support for Israel’s right to defend itself following Hamas’s rocket fire,” Ashkenazi said.

“This is further proof of the broad support and legitimacy Israel receives from foreign countries during these days of fighting. This is thanks to the diplomatic and political effort led by Israeli ambassadors around the world and the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.”

In a speech to the German Parliament Tuesday, Maas said that Hamas was the one that deliberately led to the escalation in the Middle East with dire consequences. Maas also ruled out talking to Hamas.

“After the events of recent days, there is no reason to talk directly with Hamas,” said Maas. “Those are terrorist attacks that are being carried out by Hamas in Israel and which in my view completely rule out talking without intermediaries, directly to Hamas.”

Maas also proposed a three-stage plan to end the conflict: a cease-fire, an immediate halt to rocket fire and an armistice agreement, and the resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The top German diplomat voiced his support for a 40 million euros ([US] $48.86 million) aid plan, meant to ramp up humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza.

He also condemned anti-Semitic attacks on German soil and said his country takes the issue seriously.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 19, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: МИД России/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the support Israel is receiving from various countries around the world and for the visits of these foreign ministers. Pray that such visits will only serve to strengthen their support as they actually see with their own eyes the tragic results of Hamas’s unending barrage of missiles. Pray for God’s blessing on those who stand with His chosen nation.

Scripture

The righteous is delivered from trouble, and it comes to the wicked instead.


- Proverbs 11:8

AP, Al Jazeera and the Mainstream Media are Tools in Hamas’s War against Israel

by Alex Traiman~JNS

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Smoke rising from the Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza after an Israeli airstrike

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 | Journalists are expressing their outrage that the 12-story Al-Jalaa building housing the Gaza headquarters of Associated Press and Al Jazeera was targeted during retaliatory Israeli air strikes on Saturday.

Al Jazeera Jerusalem bureau chief Walid al-Omari said that by striking the building, Israel was acting “not only to sow destruction and killing, but also to silence those who broadcast it.”

Not exactly an objective assessment.

AP CEO Gary Pruitt released a statement expressing that the world’s largest news syndication service was “shocked and horrified” by the strike.

Meanwhile, Hamas was using the building as an intelligence and operations center.

“This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life,” Pruitt’s statement added. “A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building, and thankfully we were able to evacuate them in time. The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”

Senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Aaron Klein, told JNS that “it is Hamas that must be condemned for housing its terrorist infrastructure in the same complex as the international media. This is far from the first time that Hamas has used journalists as human shields.”

Klein added that the building was utilized by Hamas “for waging a terror war on Israeli civilians and was only targeted after the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] warned civilians at the site and waited enough time for them to evacuate. Hamas provides no such warning when it daily commits the double war crimes of firing rockets indiscriminately into Israeli cities and launching those rockets from Palestinian civilian zones.”

The reason that AP was able to evacuate its journalists is because the IDF alerted every single person inside that the building was about to be targeted by an air strike. And aside from phone calls and text messages, the IDF clips the rooftops of such targets with a drone strike—meant not to cause significant damage, but to further warn civilians inside the building that they are risking their lives by staying inside.

The IDF has taken these same measures with nearly every carefully selected target, as it works with surgical precision to hit terrorist infrastructure, while limiting the possibility of civilian casualties.

It is a procedure that no other army in the world would dare undertake, as it gives additional time to the enemy to continue firing rockets at population centers. It is also a practice that is not featured prominently in mainstream-media coverage.

In a statement, Netanyahu said, that, “as always, Israel is doing everything possible to protect our civilians and keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way. We demonstrated this yet again [yesterday] when we warned civilians to vacate the building used by the Hamas terror intelligence. They vacated the premises before the target was destroyed, and that’s why you don’t hear of casualties from these collapsing terror towers, because we take special care to avoid these civilian casualties, exactly the opposite of Hamas.”

As reported by Palestinian Media Watch, even the Palestinian press has acknowledged that buildings are evacuated before they are hit.

PMW director Itamar Marcus noted that “Israel’s care for civilians is unique, especially in the history of warfare against terror organizations that use civilians as human shields. Moreover, the international community’s questioning of Israel about civilian casualties exposes its great hypocrisy.”

“Hypocrisy” is an overly kind word. A better term would be “narrative warfare.”

In the current conflict being waged between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Gaza, Judea and Samaria—and even within fully Israeli-controlled cities, including Lod, Akko, Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem and others—the media has been intentionally painting pictures of the war designed to paint Palestinians as innocent victims. Indeed, it has been purposefully misframing the events that led up to the ongoing full-scale hostilities.

According to the media, this war started initially because the Israel Police employed crowd-control measures near a gate outside the Old City of Jerusalem, where innocent Muslim penitents were gathering after their daily Ramadan [one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed] fast. Reports to this effect made little mention, if at all, of the rioting taking place there, night in and night out.

Next, the media made it sound as though Arabs had no choice but to riot when Israeli courts were moving to evict Palestinians from homes in eastern Jerusalem and handing those houses over to hard-line Israeli settlers. It is of little interest that the neighborhood in question, Sheikh Jarrah, is the site of the tomb of the ancient Jewish high priest, Simon the Righteous; that the homes in question were owned by Jews for generations; that the Arabs living in them are squatters; and that the case had been in court for more than 30 years.

The straw that clearly broke the Palestinians’ back, however—and led to all-out war—was when Israeli law enforcement ostensibly “stormed” the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. It didn’t matter that Israeli police officers entered the compound to dispel a violent Arab riot, which included the throwing of rocks and hurling of Molotov cocktails at defenseless Jewish worshipers in the Western Wall plaza some 70 feet [21 m.] below.

Suddenly, an annual parade by Israelis on “Jerusalem Day” was portrayed as an act of aggressive nationalism. And when Arabs rioting on the Temple Mount—Judaism’s holiest site beyond any dispute, even among Muslims—set a tree ablaze with fireworks illegally lit while Jews were having a concert at the Western Wall, many media outlets spread images of Jews “celebrating the burning of Al-Aqsa.”

Worse, these outlets have been attempting to disingenuously link up the Palestinian cause with the sentiments that have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement—a movement that similarly justified rioting in urban centers.

This is done with careful coordination across media outlets and employs talking points tested in focus groups, with the specific goal of eliciting emotional responses from viewers sitting in front of their televisions and phones.

To see this phony media campaign in action, one can watch various Israeli spokespersons across different networks being bombarded with the exact same accusations and questions about civilian casualties in Gaza.

Aside from its strike on the building housing AP and Al Jazeera, the IDF actually used an unwitting mainstream media to achieve a well-designed strategic objective. A day prior to the hit, the Israeli military reportedly alerted various outlets to its supposed upcoming ground incursion into Gaza.

At the time, the IDF tweeted that its “ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip,” a post that promptly went viral as evidence that the said incursion had begun.

In response to the messages being broadcast by media outlets, Hamas ordered its operatives to enter the network of tunnels—built with funds and materials that could otherwise be used to better the lives of Gaza’s residents—in preparation for infiltrations into Israel. At that very moment, Israel bombed the tunnel network, killing dozens of terrorists.

This isn’t the first time that Israel has “played” the mainstream media, which deserves it.

Israel is a democracy, charged with protecting its citizens from attacks by well-funded terror organizations. It neither seeks conflict nor prefers fighting. Yet a “free press” is clearly working for—and even in the same building as—a terrorist organization.

The reason that Israel struck the building that houses the AP and Al Jazeera offices in Gaza had nothing to do with the media’s agenda of painting Israel as the aggressor, in its brazen and dangerous attempt to drain international support for the Jewish state.

But, if Israel had targeted media outlets that openly and intentionally support its enemies, it may have been justified on those grounds alone. Sadly, but not surprisingly, it is unlikely that outlets like AP and Al Jazeera will learn their lesson.

Alex Traiman is managing director and Jerusalem bureau chief of Jewish News Syndicate.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 16, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Atia Mohammed/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that these media outlets will actually be ashamed for their disgraceful lack of truth and integrity in reporting what is happening in Gaza, for the blind eye they have turned as Hamas used their same building as a headquarters and for failing to admit the truth that they were warned in plenty of time to evacuate. Pray that they would actually report the truth.

Scripture

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,” says the LORD.


- Jeremiah 9:3

The “We-Must-Hate-Israel” Season Reopens in Turkey

by Burak Bekdil~Gatestone

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Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Thursday, 20 May 2021 | Each time the Arab–Israel dispute turns violent on Israeli soil, Turks immediately return to their post-truth mode. One newspaper headline proudly says that Palestinian fighters shot 137 rockets into Israel within five minutes. The next headline says Israel is a state of terror because it reciprocated to attacks against its citizens.

“This is how al-Qassam Brigade hit a lifeline oil plant in Ashkelon–Eilat,” one headline said. “Hamas hits, Zionists are burning,” was another. “Rockets shock Zionists.” “Tel Aviv turns into hell” “Zionists are fleeing Hamas rockets.” And, according to Hamas’s leader Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza militants “have defended Jerusalem.” There are more.

“To the Islamic world, we say: It’s time to stop Israel’s heinous and cruel attacks!” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesman, Fahrettin Altun, wrote on Twitter. On May 9, thousands of angry Turks demonstrated in support of Palestinians outside both Israel’s Embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul. The Turkish police did not intervene, despite a ban in place on large public gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic. The crowds chanted: “Turkish soldiers to Gaza!”

In the meantime, Turkey withdrew an invitation extended earlier to Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz for the Antalya Diplomacy Forum on June 18–20, citing “Israel’s increasing violations and attacks against Palestinians.”

Secular Turks took advantage of the Islamist hysteria in humorous ways. When Ömer Lekesiz, a columnist for the Islamist daily Yeni Şafak, wrote, “May Allah give me a chance to become a martyr in the name of Palestine,” some maverick Turks on social media sent him a link to the Turkish Airlines’ Istanbul–Tel Aviv flight schedule, with a note that said: “Here is your flight. Go to Israel and become a martyr.”

None of this anti-Israeli hysteria in Turkey is new. When Turkey and Israel decided to normalize their badly strained ties in December 2016, after more than six years of downgraded diplomatic relations, the first thing they did, as the protocol dictated, was to appoint ambassadors to each other’s capital.

In essence, Erdoğan had pragmatically agreed to shake hands with Israel, but his ideological hostility to the Jewish state and his ideological love affair with Hamas had not disappeared. After less than a year and a half, the Turkish and Israeli embassies in Tel Aviv and Ankara were once again ambassador-less. The loveless date had turned into a tussle after clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters caused the deaths of dozens of demonstrators.

It was another May, violent in Israel and hysterical in Turkey, three years ago. Turkey recalled its ambassador and asked the Israeli ambassador to leave the country “for a while,” which became permanent.

There is, however, a significant difference between Turkey in May 2018 and May 2021. In May 2018, Turkey was heading for presidential and parliamentary elections—which Erdoğan won with 51.5% of the national vote.

Erdoğan was confident of “making Turkey great again” and systematically fueled hostility against Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In May 2021, Turkey is not heading for elections but for economic collapse and political isolation, and Erdoğan had just pushed the button to quietly reset relations with Turkey’s adversaries around the Eastern Mediterranean basin, including Israel.

Bad luck for Erdoğan. Wrong timing.

Erdoğan has grossly profited, in domestic politics, from every form and period of violence in the Arab–Israeli dispute in the past two decades. But he will not get anything from this year’s clashes between terrorists and a legitimate state. There are no elections in sight. And the Turks, despite their usual manifest anti-Israeli behavior, are in fact too busy with their everyday struggles to bring bread to their homes and milk to their babies.

Some grocery stores in big cities like Istanbul have recently started to sell “stale bread” for the first time. A stale loaf sells at five US cents cheaper than standard bread and has thousands of customers. There are long queues in front of municipality-run shops selling subsidized bread, a dime cheaper than the market price of bread.

Erdoğan will not be able to take advantage of this year’s unfortunate deaths in Israel and Gaza.

Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey’s leading journalists, was recently fired from the country’s most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute on May 19, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kremlin.ru/wikimediacommons

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will bring an end to the incitement against Israel by Turkey’s leaders. Beseech Him that the truth of the conflict will find its way to the ears and hearts of the Turkish people and that Erdoğan’s anti-Semitic propaganda will fall on deaf ears.

Scripture

You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.


- Psalm 5:6

Hamas’s Woefully Successful Battle Plan

by Richard Kemp~Gatestone

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IDF soldiers searching for terror tunnels in Gaza (illustrative)

Wednesday, 19 May 2021 | During an operation in Gaza last week, the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] attacked a Hamas tunnel complex with 12 squadrons of 160 combat planes striking over 150 targets with hundreds of bunker-busting JDAMs [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] in less than an hour.

Although the battle damage assessment is still underway, the raid destroyed perhaps the most critical element of Hamas infrastructure, wiping out vast stocks of munitions and likely killing dozens if not hundreds of fighters. This was a hammer blow to Hamas and may prove to be a turning point in the conflict. It also sent a powerful message to Iran and Hezbollah, foretelling the consequences of an assault on Israel with their arsenal of tens of thousands of missiles in southern Lebanon.

The IDF operation was a carefully coordinated combination of intelligence, surveillance, knowledge of enemy tactics, deception, surprise and precisely targeted, overwhelming force. Of all these, deception and surprise were key. Surprise is a principle of war in the American, British and many other forces, defined in the US Army Field Manual as “striking the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared.” Throughout the history of warfare, surprise achieved through deception has led to many stunning military victories—often against the odds.

The IDF’s deception operation was reminiscent of the biblical Israelite leader Gideon’s famous stratagem against the Midianites. He had his men blow trumpets, light torches and yell battle cries, simulating a much larger force and causing the vastly superior enemy army to flee the field.

Last Thursday, the IDF massed tanks, artillery and infantry combat vehicles on the Gaza border, engines roaring like Gideon’s trumpets. The build-up was observed by Hamas and widely reported in international media as an imminent ground invasion. Like the Midianites, hundreds of Hamas fighters rushed to take shelter inside the “metro” tunnel network. Built by Hamas after the 2014 conflict to house command facilities, store weapons and facilitate protected movement, these tunnels covered dozens of kilometers beneath the Gaza Strip. There the fighters were trapped as JDAM after JDAM thundered in from above. Emerging to fight the invasion that never came, the surviving anti-tank teams and mortar squads were then also hit from the air.

This masterpiece of tactical synchronization, with all its complex elements, symbolizes the IDF’s precision attacks during this campaign, Operation Guardian of the Walls, which have already inflicted damage from which Hamas will not recover for years. The IDF learned many lessons from previous engagements in Gaza and since 2014 has vigorously collected intelligence and worked to develop battle plans and technological solutions to deal with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Hamas is no match for the IDF and could be quickly and much more cheaply defeated by blunt and crushing military force were it not for one thing—the Israeli need to minimize loss of civilian life.

Hamas knows that. They know they cannot prevail over the IDF and have no intention of trying. Their entire strategy is to attack Israeli population centers using rockets, kamikaze drones and tunnels, aimed at luring IDF counterattacks that will kill their own civilians in order to vilify and isolate Israel around the world and gain international support for their cause. With human shields as the fundamental element of every operation, Hamas is the first “army” in history to use the lives of its own civilian population as weapons of war.

Their strategy has been woefully successful. Over many years of conflict in Gaza, the majority of the world’s media have enthusiastically reported the deaths of Palestinian civilians as though they were the deliberate object of Israel’s callous and uncaring way of war. This blatantly false propaganda has been taken up in the West.

In the US, Britain and Europe last week, we have seen hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators brandishing Palestinian banners, burning Israeli flags, spitting out their hate for the Jewish state and screaming about IDF baby-killers. Hamas’s calumny is a prime motivator among Israel-loathing academics in Western universities and high schools who have mined their false allegations as rich seams of material to indoctrinate generations of students.

Human rights groups around the world have been doing the same. There have been dozens of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN, often drawing on Hamas’s narrative, twisting every aspect of the conflicts in Gaza. The prize has been the International Criminal Court’s decision this year to launch a full investigation with the hope of dragging Israeli soldiers, officials and politicians into the dock at The Hague.

I have taken part in every UN Human Rights Council evidence session and emergency debate on Gaza conflicts in the last 15 years. The willful ignorance combined with malice has always been breathtaking. Every commission of inquiry determined Israel’s guilt before it even met for the first time. Every debate and vote has overwhelmingly and of course falsely affirmed Israel’s supposed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Meanwhile Hamas’s actual multiple war crimes have been brushed aside.

The reality is very different from the lies emanating from these modern-day Towers of Babel. The IDF attack on the “metro” tunnels this week depended on lightning action and the coordination of 160 planes attacking a small area in a very short space of time.

Alongside these awesome complexities, the IDF did all it could to ensure minimum loss of civilian life by selecting targets where the lowest levels of innocents would be harmed, such as empty roadways under which tunnels ran, and maintaining close surveillance to confirm a bus load of civilians didn’t suddenly appear. The IDF has so far destroyed several high-rise buildings containing critical Hamas military infrastructure as well as civilian offices and apartments. Remarkably, all of these have been smashed down without any reported civilian casualties.

As in previous conflicts in Gaza, the IDF has made radio broadcasts in Arabic, sent SMS messages and even phoned civilians inside the Strip to warn them of impending strikes, where to go for their own safety and which routes to take. Gazans have given interviews confirming this.

When civilians do not leave an intended target building, the IDF sometimes drops specially designed low-power munitions (“knock on the roof”) to encourage them to get out. With careful surveillance of target areas, the Israeli air force frequently aborts planned sorties if there is a risk of civilian casualties.

In a conflict designed by Hamas to maximize civilian deaths, some are inevitable. It is too early to accurately assess casualty figures or ratios of civilians to fighters killed, but current assessments suggest the IDF has been even more successful in minimizing civilian casualties during this campaign than in previous engagements in Gaza.

Many in the media, human rights groups and international bodies have rushed to characterize all civilian casualties (other than those inflicted by Hamas, of course) as war crimes. But the Geneva Conventions disagree. Inflicting civilian casualties is not illegal, provided a military operation is necessary for the prosecution of a war, they are not disproportionate to the planned military gain and that combatant commanders do not intentionally target civilians while doing all they can to avoid hitting them.

The media takes reports from the Gaza health ministry as authoritative and objective. That is disingenuous and they know it. The health ministry is controlled by Hamas and follows their every order. For example, of around 2,000 rockets fired so far by Hamas during this conflict, approximately 400 have fallen short, landing inside Gaza. Some of these have killed civilians, and the health ministry has attributed all of them to IDF action.

Counterintuitively, the most effective means of saving Gazan civilian lives has been Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Despite Hamas efforts to overwhelm it, the Iron Dome has had a 90% success rate in preventing missiles from Gaza hitting their targets. Not only has this saved the lives of countless Israeli civilians, but it has also meant the IDF campaign can be more deliberate, discriminating and precise.

If hundreds of Israelis were dying under Hamas rockets, the IDF would have no choice other than to strike Gaza with much greater ferocity, and ground forces would already have entered the Gaza Strip, unavoidably inflicting vastly more civilian casualties than we have seen so far.

Despite all of this, as the media unceasingly show us, the real victims in this campaign have indeed been Gaza civilians. But they usually get the cause wrong. Every one is due to Hamas’s unprovoked aggression against Israel. None would have occurred without it. Once this round of fighting is over, Hamas will work to build back better for next time—that is, to regenerate their military capability rather than civilian infrastructure. If Western governments, international bodies and human rights groups are genuinely interested in avoiding suffering in Gaza, they should start now, striving to end Hamas’s reign of terror rather than support it by parroting their baleful narrative.

Colonel Richard Kemp is a former British Army Commander. He was also head of the international terrorism team in the UK Cabinet Office and is now a writer and speaker on international and military affairs. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Gatestone Institute on May 16, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray that the author’s desire for Western governments, international bodies and human rights groups to cease their support for Hamas’s reign of terror and help instead to bring it to an end will become reality. Beseech the Lord that the flow of anti-Israel propaganda will come to an abrupt end, no longer fueling hatred and resulting in violent demonstrations.

Scripture

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men.


- Psalm 59:1–2

President Shares Holiday Joy with Soldiers as Israel Marks Feast of Weeks during Conflict

by Joshua Spurlock

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President Rivlin celebrates with IDF soldiers (illustrative).

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 | As rockets from Gaza terrorists continued to rain down on Israel on Sunday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin literally shared a taste of holiday cheer with soldiers defending the country to help them mark the start of the Feast of Weeks holiday. The festival—known in Hebrew as Shavuot and also referred to as Pentecost—marks the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai and is traditionally a season of great joy.

With the shroud of war covering the nation as the holiday was poised to begin on Sunday night, Rivlin shared a traditional holiday cheesecake with soldiers working an Iron Dome missile defense battery who couldn’t celebrate Shavuot at home. Rivlin, according to an Israeli press release, thanked the soldiers for their defense of the country and let them know sharing the festive dessert was a tradition of Rivlin’s late wife, Nechama.

“I came here ahead of Shavuot because I knew you wouldn’t be home and that your parents will be missing you…Thank you! Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Rivlin. “Nechama, my wife of blessed memory, would go between security forces who had stayed back to guard us on holiday and give them a slice of her famous cheesecake. And I’m here to carry on her tradition.”

Rivlin noted in his comments that many of the parents missing the soldiers during the holiday are caught in the conflict too as Gaza terrorists fire rockets at Israeli civilians, noting “the home front has become the front line.”

However, he told those manning the Iron Dome—which consistently intercepts incoming missiles aimed at Israeli cities—that they are “the irrefutable answer,” that Israel’s civilians “can live safely and know that they are being protected.”

Said Rivlin, “I came here and see that the guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers. You are the guardians of our walls. I saw the professionalism with which you are running this campaign, and I am proud of you. All of Israel trusts you.”

While visiting the Iron Dome battery, Rivlin also used the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] communications network to share a holiday message with all IDF soldiers engaged in the conflict.

“No words can express the appreciation and love we have for you. Today, you won’t be sitting around the holiday table with your families, but the whole Israeli people is with you. You make it possible for us, all of us, to enjoy a happier, safer holiday,” Rivlin was quoted in the press release as saying.

“Through you, I would like to thank all IDF soldiers and security forces. You are our light, you are our pride, you are in our hearts at every moment. On behalf of the entire Israeli people, I would like to say thank you. Take care of yourselves, my dears, and take care of us. We trust you.”

IDF Col. Moran Omer, commander of the operations unit in the command center at the Kirya General Staff HQ base, thanked the president for his words and highlighted the IDF’s sacred view of defending the nation. Said Col. Omer in the press release, “We see protecting and defending Israel as a great privilege during this complex time and take this opportunity to wish you and all Israel a happy Shavuot holiday, as much quiet as possible.”

Rivlin wasn’t the only Israeli leader who was highlighting the Shavuot holiday during the latest Gaza conflict. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in comments to the nation on Sunday published by his office, noted a teaching from the historic Jewish sage Rashi that when Israel received the Ten Commandments they did so “as one person, with one heart.”

Said Netanyahu, “Thus we stand today—as one person, with one heart, with one heart in the fight for our state, one heart behind our soldiers, and one heart for our security and our future.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on May 16, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Mark Neyman / Government Press Office (Israel)

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for President Rivlin’s remarks. Pray for the physical and emotional safety of every member of the IDF, and ask the Lord to bless each one’s parents and loved ones with a sense of peace and pride in their sons and daughters as they fight to protect the nation.

Scripture

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.


- Proverbs 18:10