Last week, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched air strikes in retaliation for rocket attacks from the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas, which primarily operates in the West Bank. More than 900 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since the assassination of the commander of the Hamas military wing, Ahmed Jabari. Two missiles hit Tel Aviv Friday November 16 and others fired at Jerusalem. No injuries or damage were reported.
Palestinian terrorists have fired more than 12,000 at Israel in the past 12 years. The IDF says it will do whatever is necessary to protect Israeli citizens and “cripple the terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.”
The Palestinian Authority has joined Hamas, the Sunni Muslim Palestinian extremist group based in the Gaza Strip, in its attacks against Israel. Additionally, intelligence shows Iran is supplying Hamas with Iranian-made Fajr-5 long-range missiles. Terrorists continue to stockpile more than 10,000 rockets in Gaza. These long-range missiles and rockets have forced families into bomb shelters and bunkers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the regular weekly cabinet meeting that the IDF "is prepared for a significant expansion of its operation."
Netanyahu said he would continue to speak to world leaders and emphasize "the effort Israel is making to avoid hitting civilians, and this at a time when Hamas and the [other] terrorist organizations are making every effort to hit civilian targets in Israel."
The Foreign Ministry said it was the first time a missile was fired at Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war. The Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted hundreds of missiles fired at major population centers in Israel.
Gaza health official, Ashraf al-Kidra, reports that the death toll has risen to some 70 Palestinians, both terrorists and civilians. Three Israelis were killed last Thursday.
Life Under Rocket Fire
While many Israelis are all too familiar with living with the threat of war, being in the Holy Land during a time such as this brings a heightened sense of anxiety.
“As I write these words, the beauty of Bethlehem is dipped into a pungent mist of burning tires and tear gas,” Brian Schrauger, a social media consultant living in Bethlehem, wrote in an email. “It permeates the atmosphere and has slithered through the open windows into my room. I hope it dissipates before I head to bed.”
And in another email:
“I was out all day in Herzliya and Ra'anana near Tel Aviv,” Schrauger continued. “It was nice. I’m back now to another night of burning tire smoke laced with tear gas permeating the air in Bethlehem. Booms and sirens echo in the distance. Taxis are not seen. Word is, a growing confrontation is brewing by the [security] wall.”
For Sarit Haim, life has always been frightening. She lives near Tel Aviv where rockets from Gaza fly pass her house almost monthly.
She worries whenever she goes to work or when she sends her children to school and even when she is out shopping for groceries.
"The thought that you are not safe is horrifying," she said. "I cannot imagine the life of the people who don't know where to flee because their houses are not safe.”
While Haim is further away from the fighting, her fellow countrymen aren’t so fortunate.
The International Fellowship of Christians (The Fellowship) and Jews has pledged aid to communities in southern Israel. The Fellowship has pledged a $2.7 million emergency and security aid package, which includes supplies for people in Netivot, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat, Sdot Negev and Eshkol. Funds will help with new security projects, food, clothing and medical care, among other assistance.
”With 20 percent of the nation’s people in bomb shelters today, improving the security of the residents of the south is a vital priority for The Fellowship,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and CEO of The Fellowship. “The untenable situation of more than 1 million residents living under constant threat of rocket fire must top the list of concerns of every friend of Israel. We are working hand-in-hand with the Israel Ministry for Home Front Defense and the IDF, and we will continue to cooperate to ensure the security of Israel’s people.”
U.S., Other World Powers Mostly Silent
Five days into air attacks between Israel and Hamas, President Obama said Sunday that Israel has “every right” to defend itself against missile attacks by terrorists inside Gaza.
Obama said at a press conference in Thailand, "Let's understand what the precipitating event here that's causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there's no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”
In the wake of the recent Hamas attacks, several lawmakers backed a House resolution expressing support for Israel’s right to act in self-defense.
New Jersey congressman Leonard Lance called for an end to the mounting terrorist attacks on Israel and urged President Barack Obama to stand with Israel, a close American ally in the Middle East.
The seventh congressional district lawmaker supported a bipartisan congressional resolution the House approved expressing support for Israel's “inherent right to act in self-defense.” The U.S. Senate approved an identical measure late Friday, November 16, by unanimous consent.
“The resolution expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes and strongly supports its inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism,” said Lance.
“I am pleased the U.S. House in bipartisan manner reaffirmed America’s longstanding belief that Israel has every right to live in peace and defend itself,” said Lance. “When nearly 400 Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets are being fired into Israel and killing innocent Israeli citizens, America must firmly stand with Israel and denounce the recent terrorist attacks by Hamas and others.”
Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said, “During these tumultuous times, it is important for President Obama to reiterate his unwavering support for our natural ally, Israel, and for Prime Minister Netanyahu. We must stand with Israel. Saying or doing nothing is a sign of weakness that will embolden the radical Islamic terrorists.”
“I am in regular contact with Israelis in Israel who provide me with first-hand accounts. The Israeli people are strong and resolved. They want peace, and they are determined to defend themselves against terrorists. They have that right and we must support them,” concluded Staver.
Anti-Israel Media Bias
CEO and founder of News Corporation and the creator of Fox Broadcasting Rupert Murdoch used Twitter to lash out at CNN and the Associated Press for biased anti-Israel coverage.
He tweeted: "Why is Jewish owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?"
Earlier in the day, he also tweeted:
@rupertmurdoch: "Middle East ready to boil over any day. Israel position precarious. Meanwhile watch CNN and AP bias to point of embarrassment."
Murdoch apologized for his “Jewish owned press” comments Sunday.
While it is uncertain whether there will be a ground invasion of Gaza, both the IDF and al-Qassam, Hamas’ military wing, have waged a war of words using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media outlets to get out their differing perspectives.
An IDF spokesman requested “no one posts anything on Facebook about where rockets and grads are falling and where sirens are being heard. Hamas intelligence can see all these posts and it can inadvertently help them with where to aim their rockets!!! Everyone take note and share."
Expecting to find a general consensus from the Israeli population, however, Jonathan David, radio news anchor for Israel Today Magazine, said he discovered more diverse opinions than he anticipated. David maintains many Israelis found European news reports to be more biased than American coverage.
“There is a saying -- if you ask 10 Israelis for their opinion, you will get 11 in return,” said David.
But David argues that most believers in Israel are united in their view of world events in the Middle East.
“Believers in Israel are more biblically literate and understand more about prophecy than American Christianity," he said. "Americans are biblically illiterate compared to the believers in Israel. Believers here believe the Lord is in control and that ultimately enemies of Israel will be destroyed, according to Scripture.”
Russ Jones is a 25-year award-winning journalist and correspondent. He is co-publisher of various Christian news sites such as ChristianPress.com, OxfordFamily.com and a media consultant to a number of political and cause-oriented campaigns. He is also a freelance correspondent for the American Family Radio Network, a regular contributor for ReligionToday.com, Crosswalk.com and various Christian TV networks. He has been a guest on such programs as the Mike Gallagher Show, the Dennis Prager Show and Sandy Rios in the Morning. Jones holds degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia and St. Paul School of Theology. Russ is married to Jackie and together they have four children. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook.com/russjones.
Publication date: November 19, 2012