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Israel Congratulates Obama

In response to Israel extending a warm welcome to President Obama’s re-election, the US Ambassador Shapiro said: “Thank you. Mr. Prime Minister, on behalf of the President, Vice President and the American people, thank you for those good wishes. Americans are very proud of our democratic system and values and our free elections. Obviously Israelis share those values. The President has enjoyed close security cooperation with you and your government in his first term and we look forward to continuing it in the second term.”

May I suggest, Americans need to stop being “very proud”.  The bible says that, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and seek My  face and turn from their wicked ways, then

US Supports Israel Iron Dome

WASHINGTON — US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a letter to congressional leadership on Tuesday requesting $225 million in additional US funding to accelerate production of Iron Dome missile-defense components to ensure Israel will have adequate stockpiles to protect itself from rockets launched by Hamas militants in Gaza.

Israel requested the extra components in recent days, and the Pentagon supports the request, which would come on top of the $176 million the Obama administration already requested for the program in the fiscal 2015 defense budget.

In congressional markups this past spring, House and Senate defense and appropriations panels have doubled the Pentagon’s fiscal 2015 budget request for the Iron Dome to $351 million. The House passed its bill in June but the Senate has yet to take up the measure.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said Wednesday morning that the additional money would come on top of the Pentagon’s original request since the congressional plus-ups have yet to be passed.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, threw his support behind the increased funding on Wednesday, saying in a statement that “the only thing that stands between Israel and a barrage of  Hamas rockets is the Iron Dome. We should ensure that Israel has the ability to utilize the Iron Dome and protect innocent civilians from rocket attacks during this crisis and into the future. I applaud Secretary Hagel and the administration for making this request. I will work with my colleagues in Congress to get this request approved.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said in a statement “The bill includes $225 million in Department of Defense emergency supplemental funding for Israel to procure additional Iron Dome interceptors. The ongoing crisis in Israel and Gaza has resulted in thousands of rockets being launched at Israeli cities and towns, and the Iron Dome missile defense system has proven highly effective at neutralizing these threats.”

In Hagel’s letter, he told congressional leaders that “US industrial base issues are associated with support of Iron Dome,” since the agreement between the two countries stipulates that some production be done in the United States.

“However, Israel assesses that it will take another two to three years to reach full production capacity in the United States, which would not address Israel’s current shortfall.”

In addition to the increased Iron Dome spending in the House bill, the House Armed Services Committee included hundreds of millions of dollars more for other Israeli missile programs, including $130 million for Arrow and $137.9 million for David’s Sling.

“In all,” Smith said, “the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act contains more than $600 million in funding for Israeli missile defense and the United States has provided over $1 billion for Iron Dome since its inception, including the FY15 authorization.”

Travel Warning for Israel

U.S. Department of State -

Just 12 hours after the travel ban to Israel on US flights to and from Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, the Federal Aviation Authority on Thursday withdrew the ban, setting the stage for US and international carriers to resume flights. Europe’s Aviation Safety Agency, which had issued a “strong recommendation” against flights to Tel Aviv, retracted its warning later in the day.

Since the FAA ban on Tuesday – following the first successful Hamas rocket landing within the vicinity of the airport – hundreds of flights were canceled, and thousands of travelers stranded.

Following the American and European flight approvals, US Airways and United Airlines decided to resume their flights and informed the Israel Airports Authority that they would be landing planes on Friday at Ben-Gurion to take off on Saturday morning. Delta Airlines also decided to renew flights, as did Air Berlin, Al Italia, Meridian, Air Mediterranee, Nios, Air Iberia, Niki, EasyJet, Veiling, Mistrel, Air Canada and FedEx, the IAA said.

Transportation Minister Israel Katz welcomed the FAA’s decision, and organized a meeting among relevant parties at Ben-Gurion Airport Thursday morning to assess the overall situation and discuss the site’s preparedness.

“Once again it was proven that Israeli skies are safe,” Katz said Thursday morning.

“He who tried to blockade Israel failed. I hope that European companies will also announce the return of activities soon.”

Israel lobbied heavily for the US to lift the restriction, which politicians called a victory for Hamas and terrorism.

The FAA said it took into account “significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation,” before making its decision, but stressed that its primary goal was to protect passengers on US airlines.

The EASA, meanwhile, said it had also coordinated with Israel and the FAA, and advised national aviation authorities to conduct their own risk assessment.

Though El Al and Arkia added capacity and new flights during the flight ban, Israeli customers were incensed by the high prices they were charging for tickets at a time of crisis, when so many people were stranded abroad. State Comptroller Joseph Shapira said on Thursday he would look into allegations of price gouging.

The Tourism Ministry convened a meeting with the Finance Ministry to discuss damage to Israel’s tourist industry, which it feared could take a long-term hit as the operation drags on.

Meanwhile, in light of the fact that most planes would no longer be making use of the alternative Ovda Airport, located some 60 km. north of Eilat, the IAA said it had ordered buses from Eilat to return passengers to Ben-Gurion Airport. IAA CEO Yaakov Ganot appointed an investigative team under the leadership of Shlomo Oren, vice president for aviation cooperation, to ensure the operational capabilities and services of the airport.

Two Air Europa planes waiting at Ovda elected to take off without passengers, the IAA announced around noon.

Stressing that the authority was doing its utmost to allow as many travelers as possible to reach their European destinations, the IAA said that a portion of the passengers were transferred to other flights at Ovda while others returned to Ben-Gurion Airport for assistance from the airline itself.

On Thursday afternoon, El Al announced the addition of two additional flights from Ben-Gurion Airport to Athens and Zurich. In addition, the airline said it was sending a special flight to Athens in the evening to return hundreds of Israelis to Israel who were stranded in Greece due to foreign airline cancellations.

In addition, the company said it was increasing the amount of seats on flights to Rome, Amsterdam and Zurich by replacing the originally planned planes with wide-body aircraft.

Obama, Israel, Gaza

Washington DC-

President Obama pledged strong support Friday for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas militants, but urged the Jewish state to try to minimize civilian deaths in its ground push into Gaza.

Obama said he spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday about the escalating situation. “We support their military efforts to make sure more rockets aren’t being fired, “Obama told reporters at a press conference at the White House.

“No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunneling into its territory,” Obama said. “I also made clear that the United States and our friends and allies are deeply concerned about the risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life.”

The comments came after Netanyahu ordered the Israeli military to prepare for a “significant expansion” of its ground operation against Gaza militants, aiming to destroy underground tunnels used by Hamas to attack the Jewish State.

“Our understanding is the current military ground operations are designed to deal with the tunnels. And we are hopeful that Israel will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties,” Obama said.

Israeli ground troops and tanks struck more than 100 terror targets in Israel’s first major ground offensive in Gaza in just over five years.

Israeli officials have said the goal is to weaken Hamas militarily and have not addressed the possibility of driving the Islamic militants from power.

The offensive follows an Egyptian effort earlier this week to halt hostilities. Israel accepted the terms, but Hamas refused, demanding that Israel and Egypt first give guarantees to ease the blockade on Gaza.

Obama said he spoke by phone to Netanyahu earlier in the day over the sounds of sirens going off in the background in Tel Aviv and told him Secretary of State John Kerry is prepared to travel to the region.

Israel had been reticent about launching a ground offensive for fear of endangering its own soldiers and drawing international condemnation over Palestinian civilian deaths.

Since the July 8 start of the air campaign, more than 260 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded, Palestinian health officials said. In Israel, one civilian died and several were wounded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

GAZA WAR UPDATE, Day #11

Explosion in Gaza as ground operations began Thursday night.

Explosion in Gaza as ground operations began Thursday night.

Hamas is storing rocket launchers, rockets and weapons in tunnels under Gaza. They're also digging tunnels under Israel for terrorists to use to enter Israeli villages.

Hamas is storing rocket launchers, rockets and weapons in tunnels under Gaza. They’re also digging tunnels under Israel for terrorists to use to enter Israeli villages.

UPDATED AT 11:30am EASTERN, FRIDAY: (Washington, D.C.) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday his government’s intention to expand the scope of the IDF ground campaign in Gaza.

The top priority is not so much to topple Hamas but to restore calm. To do that, Netanyahu says, one vital thing Israel must do is identify and destroy the labyrinth of tunnels and underground warehouses that Hamas and other terror groups are using to store rockets, launchers and other weapons under Gaza, as well as the tunnels Hamas is digging under Israel.

“We decided to launch the action after we tried all the other ways, and with an understanding that without this operation the price we will have to pay later would be much higher,” Netanyahu told reporters.

Netanyahu, speaking at the opening of an emergency cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, said that “since there is no way to deal with the tunnels only from the air, our soldiers are doing it now from the ground,” reported the Jerusalem Post.

“The supreme consideration guiding us is to restore security to the civilians and quiet to the state. There is not a more moral army than the IDF, and we do not want to harm even one innocent civilian. Not even one. We are operating only against terror targets.”

On Thursday, just before the ground war commenced, Israeli forces spotted a group of heavily-armed Hamas terrorists emerging out of a tunnel into Israeli territory, heading towards and Israeli village. IDF forces fired on the terrorists and prevented a major disaster that surely would have ensued if the terrorist had reached their destination.

 Please pray this will all end quickly. Please pray for calm to be restored. And please pray for mercy for Israelis and Palestinians. It is so painful to see the suffering and trauma on both sides. The Bible commands us to pray for peace — let us be faithful.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WAR:

REACTIONS FROM LEADERS IN THE REGION

Protective Edge Day 10

Israel on Wednesday accepted a UN proposal for a five-hour unilateral humanitarian pause in the fighting to allow for relief aid into Gaza, less than two days after it accepted a more comprehensive cease-fire proposal that was answered by continuous rocket attacks from Gaza.

It started at 10 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. During the 5 hour cease fire Hamas terrorists fired 3 mortars into Israel of which the IDF did not respond.

At 2:59 p.m. Hamas terrorists fired the first rocket to end the cease fire, directed at Ashkelon. Within three hours more than fifty rockets had been fired from Gaza, 3 of them directed at Sderot.

For the past thirteen years the rest of the country and for that matter the rest of the world have watched and listened to the stories of the terrorist attacks on Isreal and in some cases have been detached until nine days ago.

No one in Israel is immune to running to a bomb shelter at the sound of the alarm as the Iron Dome takes out one incoming rocket after another.

 

Israel Under Fire

Israel continues to endure a shower of rockets from Gaza.  Over 100 rockets have hit Israel just in the past 24 hours. Tseva Adom, Code Red, sirens go off constantly in Sderot and all the way into Jerusalem.

The Times of Israel said, “Hamas has goaded Israel into action—whether because of unpaid salaries, or hopes of fanning the flames of the unrest in Israel and the West Bank, or a need to stave off its rivals—Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the assorted Salafi organizations—or in-house disagreements between its political and military wings, or as an expression of its alienation from Egypt and Iran (and those are just a few of the current theories).”

Israel has been forced into air strikes.  Reservists are being called to duty.  People are running frequently to bomb shelters.

A forced, defensive, Operation Protective Edge has been initiated.

IDN Weekly reported:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called for the kind of operation that would enable reassertion of Israeli control over the Gaza Strip. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday (July 7) refused to state his position over the air waves, but likely advocates a similar move (Times, July  8). The generals say such a large move would require massive reserves call-up, a lengthy operation in the Gaza Strip, including ground troops, and a prolonged toll on the Israeli civilian population. Researchers put the economic toll of such an action at $4.4 billion. It would also leave Israel in charge of 1.5 million Palestinians.

Retired Maj. General Amos Yadlin is advocating an offensive that targets the military wing of Hamas, the organization’s leaders, its firepower, and its weapons-production capabilities. Even that, he says, “might include damage to the fabric of life in Israel, the Israeli economy, and even fatalities. But it is necessary,” he concludes.

What Israel has done so far is being referred to as Operation Protective Edge.

Hamas has been trying to do as much dirty work as possible. In fact, they say they have tried to hit the Dimona nuclear reactor, but so far have been unsuccessful. Three rockets were fired at the town of Dimona. Two of them fell in open areas, while one was intercepted. Rockets have also been fired at Tel Aviv, and Iron Dome has taken out at least one of them. Rockets have also landed in open areas south of Haifa. Hamas now has weapons considerably more sophisticated than the homemade projectiles that were fired in previous clashes—presumably smuggled in from Iran. With many tunnels destroyed or closed from the Egyptian side, it is hoped that the remaining stockpile of weapons will be destroyed before they can do more damage. It is estimated that Hamas has around 10,000 rockets of varying strike-distance capability.

If forced into a limited war, the army will begin with a coordinated strike, probably against Hamas’ long-range rockets, which are less mobile than its leaders, who have probably gone underground at this point. From there the IDF will attempt to score maximum points in minimum time.

“But as former Mossad head Efraim Halevy said during a recent interview, one knows where a war starts, but never where it ends. ‘The fortunes of war are not predestined’” (The Times of Israel).

 

ISIS Poised to Invade Jordan

As of this writing, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has its sights set on Jordan, preparing to invade. It is clear that Israel does not want an ISIS state on its right flank across the Jordan, but whether it will be able to protect Jordan is not clear. Tied down by her war with Hamas, Israel might be limited in what she can do to help Jordan.

Israel’s intentions, however, are clear. Israeli diplomats have told their American counterparts that Israel would be prepared to take military action to save the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan if it came under attack by jihadist militants.

The chief concern is that an attack on Jordan would inevitably drag Israel and possibly the United States into the fighting. “Jordan could not repel a full assault from ISIS on its own at this point,” one senator was quoted as saying. Jordan “will ask Israel and the United States for as much help as they can get.”

Thomas Sanderson, co-director for transnational threats at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was quoted as saying that both Israel and the U.S. view the survival of the Jordanian monarchy as a paramount national security objective.

“I think Israel and the United States would identify a substantial threat to Jordan as a threat to themselves and would offer all appropriate assets to the Jordanians,” he said (Haaretz June 28).

We all need to pray that Israel will be able to handle the multiple threats she is facing right now—with God’s help.

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation”  Psalm 91:14-167

Protective Edge

Sderot has been showered for the past ten days with kassams; rockets being fired from Hamas in Gaza.

The Iron Dome, Israel’s protection against these constant fire bombs is working full time now.

Sderot, the town closest to Gaza looks like a ghost town.  However, people haven’t left, they are in hiding.  They are too scared to go out to the market or to the bank.  The citizens of Sderot are instead crouched in their bomb shelters or basements, praying they won’t be the next kassam victim. Most of the stores are closed and almost all of the IDF Reserves have been called out for active duty.

Some 40,000 husbands, dads, sons and brothers are amassing on the Gaza border in an attempt to stop the constant bombardment from Gaza.

The kassam rockets aren’t just aimed at the town of Sderot but have also been firing into Bee’r Sheva, Jaffa and Tel Aviv.

Steward, founder of Hope for Sderot reports, “On the way home we stopped off in Ashkelon to do some grocery shopping only to get our cart and half way down the produce isle to hear “Tseva Adom” . We left our cart and now ran to the bomb shelter in the grocery store. The stress and anxiety levels this time around are much higher than ever before, patience is wearing thin and the speed limit seems to be a thing of the past as people race to go to where they must go and then race back home. No one wants to be out and away from their bomb shelter. In some cases we have to force ourselves to get up, get out and go about our daily lives but boy it sure is hard.

We have been warned that this operation might take some time to accomplish and I can’t fathom what our nerves will look like in a month from now… But for now we are coping.”

 

Israel Under Fire

In the past 20 hours Hamas terrorists have fired Kassam rockets at towns that border Gaza 128 times. Is it any reason the headlines from the Jerusalem post look the way they do?

*Home Front Command bans gatherings of over 500 people in areas within 40 km of Gaza.

*Code red rocket alert siren sounds in Sderot.

*Volley of some 20 Gaza rockets fired at southern Israel.

*Home Front Command instructs southern communities to open public bomb shelters.

* IDF preparing for escalation against Hamas, senior ary source says.

The anxiety level here in Sderot is the highest as it has been in a long time. Street have less traffic, parks are empty. It has got to the point that some are even afraid to take a shower or use the toilet in fear of a Kassam falling or the “Tseva Adom” alarm going off.

(9:13 p.m.) In the past few hours more than 66 rockets have been launched from Gaza. It is becoming impossible to keep up with the Kassam count because they are coming in so fast.

We are a humanitarian Aid Organization and try never to get into politics or religion but in this case we will break that rule, that silence tonight.

No matter what your religious affiliation is We would ask for you to pray for us, not only for us here in ;Sderot but all the cities effected by this ongoing rain of rockets. Also please pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I talked to a friend today and he said there hasn’t been this much tension since the 1998 when buses were being blown up and restaurants bombed.

As we were preparing this update (10:11 p.m.) “Iron Dome” just intercepted a Kassam over Sderot.

This article is a repost from Hope for Sderot.

Israeli Teens Murdered

The bodies of three Israeli kidnapped teenagers (Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer, and Naftali Frankel) were found in a field near the Palestinian town of Halhul north of Hebron. They appeared to have been thrown into a field by their abductors after a hasty effort to conceal them. The whole nation of Israel has gone into mourning. These were not just three boys from three families—these boys belonged to every family in Israel, and their death is everyone’s loss. The bell tolls for the whole country.

The Israeli cabinet is in emergency session over this incident.

The suspected abductors are two Hamas activists, who went missing from their homes about the same time the boys disappeared. The Shin Bet security service has named them as Marwan Qwasmeh and Amar Abu Aisha, from Hebron. Both of them have done time in Israeli and Palestinian jails for terrorist activities and then were released.

The three teenagers disappeared on June 12 near Gush Etzion. After the boys had been missing for two days, authorities concluded they had been kidnapped. At one point one of the boys made a phone call to an emergency service in Kiryat Arba. He was heard whispering “I was kidnapped.” After that gun shots were heard and the cell phone was abruptly switched off. The police officer who received the call apparently passed it off as a prank. He and other officers in the region were later fired by the police commissioner (Debkafile, June 30).

Reports seem to indicate that the boys were shot very soon after their kidnapping. IDF soldiers are now pursuing the kidnappers, while the Israeli cabinet seems to be weighing their options, and considering another major invasion of Gaza.

In a statement, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.” He added that the teenagers “were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by wild beasts.”

MK Danny Danon called on the international community “to end all aid to the Palestinian Authority and its Hamas-backed government.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “cannot continue to claim to want peace with Israel, while at the same time partnering with Hamas as they kidnap and brutally murder teenagers.”

Tensions have been high between Israel and Hamas since the June 12 kidnappings, which came 10 days after Abbas and his Fatah Party that rules the West Bank formed a unity government with Hamas, which controls Gaza. Israel, which considers Hamas a terrorist group, strongly opposes the union.

Ambulance Carrying Boys’ Bodies Attacked

In a blog posted on FrontPage magazine, Daniel Greenfield says, “Our enemy is nothing if not consistent. [They are guilty of] utter and total hatred in life and death. The trouble is that we are the inconsistent ones.”

Palestinian Arabs attacked an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) ambulance humvee on Monday that was transporting the bodies of three Israeli boys, an Israeli source reported.

In a blog called “Muqata,” a picture of the ambulance was posted. In the picture, the ambulance’s windshield is shattered and splattered with paint.

ISIS Declares Caliphate

Emboldened by a weakened Iraqi government that is having a hard time stopping them, the radicals of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria declared over the weekend that they have set up a caliphate stretching across large areas of the two countries (CNN June 20). In a statement from the official spokesman of ISIS, the group called on Muslims to swear allegiance to the new caliphate. They say their flag now flies from Aleppo in Syria to Diyala province in eastern Iraq. They are reportedly changing the name of the area to simply “the Islamic State.”

ISISTerritorial control of the ISIS as of 21 June 2014 (CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia)

ISIS now overshadows al Qaeda. Savage and brutal, they leave death and destruction wherever they go. In actuality they are giving the Muslim religion a worse name than it already had. As if the reputation of Islam were not already bad enough, the ISIS extremists have now made it worse.

“In a bold declaration of its ambition, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has laid claim to leadership of the global Islamist movement, calling on Muslims worldwide to swear allegiance to its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“By claiming such preeminence, ISIS is seeking to eclipse al Qaeda and its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in what analysts see as the most dramatic shift in militant jihadism since 9/11. But ISIS also makes the outlandish claims—if its words are taken literally—that it leads 1.5 billion Muslims and that the world, not just the deserts of Syria and Iraq, are its new stage”(CNN).

caliphateMap of expansion of Caliphate (an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader
known as a caliph – i.e. “successor” – to Muhammad) 
(CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikipedia)

As noted in last week’s IND, some ISIS units are already in eastern Jordan, and they have their sights set on Israel. Israel, however, has already indicated that she may be ready to defend Jordan both because of the strategic importance of that country and also because Israel and Jordan have a mutual defense pact.

But Israel may be their ultimate goal. They have allegedly declared that they will break every border until they reach Jerusalem.

Excerpt from cfijerusalem.org.

In Memory

It is now 68 years after the  Second World War in Europe has ended.  In memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians,  10 Million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated.

holocaust2

Where is Peace?

manora“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth— If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.” – Psalm 137:5-6 (NKJV)

By Rolando Regino
As the saga of recent peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians continue, this recent round has the potential of collapsing because of Palestinian accusations of Israel’s refusal to release another batch of political prisoners, while Israel claims that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has gone to other UN countries to establish their state. Even U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, has threatened that Washington had “limits” to how much it can invest to move this process along.¹ However, the PA has asserted its right to engage in treaties with other countries, while Israel has also asserted its right to continue to build settlements along the West Bank, which territory everyone assumes to be part of the new Palestinian state, including East Jerusalem if Palestinians could have their way. Currently, both sides seem to be no closer down the road to a settlement than when they first started under this current U.S. administration.

So goes the so-called negotiation process that would make a deal to provide the Palestinian people statehood while brokering a lasting peace to secure Israel’s borders. Indeed, the spectacle of this “messy” negotiation route with its twists and turns leaves many wondering if the two sides could one day see this process through, and if peace is actually obtainable. “What is the problem between the two entities?” “Why can’t they resolve to make a lasting peace agreement?” “Is peace in the Middle East just a dream?”

The importance of a peace agreement
Ever since the reestablishment of the nation of Israel in 1948, the security of the land among its Arab neighbors has always been in question. Since then, Israel has fought 6 wars, 2 intifadas, and continuous terrorist threats² (not to mention consistent rocket attacks both in the Northern part from both Syria and Lebanon, as well as from the Gaza, in which the Palestinians reside). Even now, as peace talks continue to waver, the unspoken alternative is again war.

Signs of the end times
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the sign(s) of His second coming, He responded, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet (Matthew 24:6-7). The gospel of Matthew continues, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” Most bible scholars believe that the fig tree mentioned here signifies Israel. By becoming tender and putting forth its leaves, this indicates that Israel has been restored to statehood. Jesus said that this generation will see the Lord’s return according to the signs found in Matthew 24.

How will peace be gained in Israel?
So will peace finally come between the Jews and Palestinians? The answer can again be found in Matthew 24 and its reference to the prophet Daniel. “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains (Matt. 24:15-16). These verses are in reference to the book of Daniel which predicts that in the last days a deceiver, a “prince of peace,” or the “Antichrist” will make a peace deal with Israel, which will last seven years. This peace, however, will be short-lived. In the middle of the agreement, he will break it and cancel all sacrifices in the temple, which will be rebuilt at that time. The brief peace will be replaced with one of the worst times in the history of humanity. Matthew 24 v. 21 continues, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Real lasting peace will not be obtained until the millennial kingdom, which will be established at the second coming of Christ (Revelation 20).

Israel today
On a recent trip to Israel, we visited the town of Sderot, just northeast of the Gaza Strip. Just before we arrived, the news media reported that over 70 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, some hitting that small town. When we got there (despite the warning from our tour guide not to travel into that area), we were told about the attack. However, as supporters of Israel, we felt strongly to visit Hope for Sderot, a humanitarian organization that helps the poor people in town, who because of the lack of employment opportunities caused by the trauma of rocket attacks, don’t have enough to eat or are too injured to work. Our visit was timely, as most of their cupboards were bare, and we were able to replenish their supplies. These are the real consequences of Israel not having peace with any of its neighbors.

Support for Israel
We must support the people of Israel. God’s promise to Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation says, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) Israel needs both our prayers and physical support. In doing so, we ourselves shall also experience God’s blessing.

The last days
Many prophetic signs have come to pass in our lifetime such as Israel becoming a nation, the restoration of Jerusalem, and one day, the brokering of a short-term peace in the Middle East by the Antichrist. As we see these things transpiring, we ourselves need to be ready for the Lord’s coming. 2 Peter 3:11 says, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?”
God is looking for those who will support His chosen people Israel and be ready to end the age and bring in His kingdom on this earth.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may they prosper who love you.”
Psalm 122:6

¹ AFP and Times of Israel Staff, Monday, April 7, 2014
² Linda Sharaby, Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 6, No. 3 (September, 2002)