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Israel – Gaza Conflict, 2014

Quite a few people have asked me about the current conflict in Israel. I have also seen many comments and statements on Facebook. There is also a growing Anti-Semitic atmosphere in the media and around the world. I want to make my position clear and the position of Bethel Community Church, Newport.

As a church fellowship we support and pray for Israel, as instructed in the Bible, The Living Word of God. With reference to the current Israel/Gaza conflict.1

History and Background

The Arabs who live in the Gaza strip are governed by Hamas a recognised terrorist organisation; its manifesto advocates the destruction of the state of Israel, and calls for the raising of "the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.”

‘Palestine’ was the name given to the land of Israel by the Romans in the 2nd century. They exiled the majority of Jews and re-named the territory ‘Palestine’ to distance the Jewish people from their God-given land. After Roman occupation the land was conquered by five different occupying forces – including the Crusaders from Britain and Europe.  There was always a Jewish presence there –though sometimes very small in number - throughout the centuries. At the end of the 19th century, when the Ottoman Turkish Empire in the region began to decline, Jews began to return to their ancient homeland. In 1917, in the Balfour Declaration, the British Government affirmed their support for a Jewish homeland and, at the end of World War I the world map was redrawn. The Balfour Declaration was incorporated into international law by the League of Nations in 1920. At this time many Jews returned and began to cultivate what was a barren wasteland. The Bank of Palestine, the Palestinian Post newspaper and the Palestine Orchestra were all predominantly Jewish. In 1947, after the horrors of World War II, the United Nations voted on a partition plan which offered land previously allocated to the Jews, to both Jews and Arabs. The plan was accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs and, on 14th May 1948, the modern State of Israel came into being, the culmination of nearly 2,000 years of hopes by Jewish people that they would one day return to the land from which the Romans expelled them.

There has never been a Palestinian state and, although the Arabs in the region have gained recognition as a ‘Palestinian people’ there is no  Palestinian culture, Palestinian language, Palestinian history or Palestinian archaeological finds, or coinage. The present-day "Palestinians" are an Arab people, with Arab culture, Arabic language and Arab history, who have migrated into the land. Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation was born in Cairo.

Conflict

For many years Israeli towns have been bombarded by rockets fired from Gaza.

The Israeli town of Sderot, close to the Gaza border has had thousands of rockets and mortar attacks over the last ten years, on average 4 a day. As of July 2014, the attacks have killed 28 people, mostly civilians, and injured thousands, but their main effect is their creation of widespread psychological trauma and disruption of daily life among the Israeli population. Sderot is infamously referred to as The "Bomb Shelter Capital of the World." Had it not been for the millions of dollars spend by the Israeli government to provide these shelters and develop the Iron Dome anti-missile system the death toll would be much higher. In 2005 Israel withdrew all of their citizens and all military forces out of Gaza and the land was given over to the Arabs. They had the opportunity to live in peace, and to develop an economy built around tourism, as Gaza has a beautiful Mediterranean coast line. 

Instead the people of Gaza (many under duress) voted for Hamas to rule them in 2006. This ruling party has been more concerned with the destruction of Israel than it is with the welfare of its own people. Consequently life in Gaza is very poor with high unemployment and low standard of living.

There are 5000 administrative, communication tunnels crisscrossing Gaza, allowing Hamas free movement underground almost all across the Gaza Strip. Some tunnels also penetrate into Israel and are used for terrorist attacks.

Israel and Egypt have also had to set up blockades governing who and what goes in and out of Gaza because of the terrorist threat, but still Hamas continues its bombardment of Israeli towns. It is bitterly learning that any terrorist attack against Israel carries a heavy price -- in the form of Israel's reaction. Initially funded by Iran and now by Qatar and Turkey, Iran has also vowed to wipe Israel off the map.

The number of civilian casualties is appalling, especially as a lot of them are children. But again Hamas is culpable for not protecting its citizens. In fact it actually puts them in harm’s way by hiding its rocket launchers in civilian areas, homes, schools and hospitals.

Before Israel attacks these sites, they drop leaflets over the area by air to warn the people to flee before the bombs arrive. (No other army in the world does this). They also send SMS text messages and live voice calls to warn people. They have also been known to fire warning shots, before they bomb.

No one wants to see all these civilian causalities and we pray that this conflict will end soon, to prevent anymore. During this current conflict, to date there have been 3 attempts at ceasefire – Israel has accepted all, but Hamas has breached it each time.

The truth is, Hamas is not adverse to these casualties because it wants the world to be outraged, it wants the world to oppose Israel.

Israel

Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system, and proportional representation. The Prime Minister serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as Israel's legislative body.  Within the Knesset are Arab members and Arab parties.

Israel is a developed country with the 43rd-largest economy in the world. Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the third highest in Asia. It is among the highest life expectancies in the world. It is Number 1 in patents filed per capita in the world. The medical and scientific advancements and new technologies developed in Israel benefit the whole world.


"Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store."
- Charles Krauthammer - The Weekly Standard, May 11, 1998


What is so important about this tiny piece of land the same size as Wales? Israel has no natural resources, no oil or diamond mines, it is mostly desert.

To understand why Israel is so important to the whole world, you have to look through spiritual eyes, because it’s not for political or even religious reasons that everyone wants this land.  If you are not spiritual and do not accept the Living Word of God you will probably never understand the significance of this tiny country and its people.


So why is Israel important?

Because - It is God’s special land, a land that He gave to the Jewish people, by Title Deed/Covenant.

"Then He (God) said to him (Abram), "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it."
Gen 15:7 NKJV
"So the Lord gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies. Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true."
Joshua 21: 43-45 NLT

Because “All prophesies have and WILL be fulfilled through this land and this people."

"For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land."
Ezek 36:24 NIV

Because the temple has to be rebuilt, and the antichrist who is yet to be revealed will desecrate it.

"The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration2 standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!)
Matthew 24:15 NLT

In 1948, Israel returned as a nation – The above prophecy was fulfilled. It’s the only land they have ever had! They do not belong anywhere else.


Because Jesus will return to this land

Israel is very important in the last days and for the return of Christ, He will not return (second advent) until all prophesies are fulfilled. Zechariah 14:4 says that He will return to the land of Israel, His feet will touch the mount of Olives.

If Israel and the Jewish people were destroyed, then the prophecies would not be fulfilled, and the God of Israel and His Word would be called false. This is why the enemies of Israel don’t just want the land, they want to utterly destroy Israel and the Jewish people There is a spiritual evil force working against God and His Word.

"[God] may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you-even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets."
Acts 3:20-22 NIV


Because we have been instructed to pray

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you.""
Ps 122:6 NKJV


Because it’s dangerous to come against God and His Covenant

"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." 
Gen 12:2-3 NIV

Because God has not forgotten, rejected or replaced His people or his promises.

"I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not!"Romans 11:1 NLT
"Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn."
Romans 11:28-29 NLT

We must remember that God is still in charge, no matter what mankind does.

"The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations."
Psalm 33:10-11

Prayer Points

- Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all of Israel 
- Let us pray for the protection of all civilians and especially children that they will be protected during this conflict.
- Let us pray that this conflict ends soon - Peacefully.
- Let us pray that the world will not be deceived by all the lies and propaganda that is spoken against Israel.
- Let us pray that the rise in Anti-Semitism will diminish.

Further Information & Sources

http://www.i24news.tv/app.php/en/news/international/middle-east/38487-140728-hamas-idf-has-destroyed-a-fraction-of-our-tunnels 
http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/the-most-important-video-about-israel-ever-madehttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/10957521/Israels-front-line-town-of-Sderot-battered-by-missiles.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28320901 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbJYB-S64rw

Footnotes

1    This article is originated in response to the July 2014 conflict.
2    The abomination of desolation. See Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11