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Cease Fire Ends

After over 100 hours of negotiations the cease fire ended short today after three rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel.
The talks that were being held in Egypt were abruptly ended as a result.  The Israeli military launched an airstrike against militant targets in Gaza and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled the Israeli delegation from Cairo.
A spokesman for the prime minister reiterated Israel’s position that it will not negotiate under rocket fire, but declined to comment on whether Israel was willing to resume talks if calm returned.
“The talks are based on a premise that there is a cease-fire,” said Mark Regev, a spokesman for the prime minister. “If there is no cease-fire, there is no foundation to the discussions.”

Israel Cease Fire Talks

The threat of renewed war in Gaza loomed on Wednesday as the clock ticked towards the end of a three-day ceasefire with no sign of a breakthrough in indirect talks in Cairo between Israel and the Palestinians.

Officials in Egypt indicated that the talks were struggling, but said efforts were still being made to reach some sort of a deal before the truce expired at 2100 GMT, including possibly extending the suspension of hostilities by a further 72 hours.

Two hours before the temporary ceasefire was due to end a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landing inside southern Israel. Hamas Islamists denied launching the missile.

A Palestinian official with knowledge of negotiations in Cairo said Egypt had presented a new proposal for a permanent truce agreement that included a major Palestinian demand for a lifting of the Israeli and Egyptian blockades of the Gaza Strip.

Israel and Egypt harbor deep security concerns about Hamas, the dominant Islamist group in the small, Mediterranean coastal enclave, complicating any deal on easing border restrictions.

It was unclear from the official’s remarks how those worries, along with Israel’s demand for Gaza’s demilitarization, would be dealt with. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said disarming was not an option.

God Helps Iron Dome

“But do not fear, O My servant Jacob, and do not be dismayed, O Israel! For behold, I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; no one shall make him afraid.” Jeremiah 46

Claims of divine intervention are being reported in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, with an operator of Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system saying he personally witnessed “the hand of God” diverting an incoming rocket out of harm’s way.

Israel Today translated a report from a Hebrew-language news site, which noted the Iron Dome battery failed three times to intercept an incoming rocket headed toward Tel Aviv last week.

The commander recalled: “A missile was fired from Gaza. Iron Dome precisely calculated [its trajectory]. We know where these missiles are going to land down to a radius of 200 meters. This particular missile was going to hit either the Azrieli Towers, the Kirya (Israel’s equivalent of the Pentagon) or [a central Tel Aviv railway station]. Hundreds could have died.

“We fired the first [interceptor]. It missed. Second [interceptor]. It missed. This is very rare. I was in shock. At this point we had just four seconds until the missile lands. We had already notified emergency services to converge on the target location and had warned of a mass-casualty incident.

“Suddenly, Iron Dome (which calculates wind speeds, among other things) shows a major wind coming from the east, a strong wind that … sends the missile into the sea. We were all stunned. I stood up and shouted, ‘There is a God!’

“I witnessed this miracle with my own eyes. It was not told or reported to me. I saw the hand of God send that missile into the sea.”

Modern-day Israel is truly a divine wonder of the current age. Get the DVD series that shows how it survives “Against All Odds.”

The commander’s account is reminiscent of a recent newspaper headline which trumpeted the possibility of supernatural protection.

“Their God changes the path of our rockets in mid-air, said a terrorst,” was the headline in the July 18 edition of the Jewish Telegraph.

It was a partial quote from Barbara Ordman, who lives in Ma’ale Adumim on the West Bank.

Her exact quotation was: “As one of the terrorists from Gaza was reported to say when asked why they couldn’t aim their rockets more effectively: “We do aim them, but their God changes their path in mid-air.”

She opened her piece by noting: “In October 1956, [Israeli Prime Minister] David Ben Gurion was interviewed by CBS. He stated: ‘In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.’”

Meanwhile, the Times of Israel reported a senior officer in Israel’s army said divine miracles protected his soldiers during fighting in the Gaza Strip.

IDF Col. Ofer Winter

Givati Brigade commander Col. Ofer Winter told the weekly publication Mishpacha that he “witnessed a miraculous occurrence, the likes of which he had never seen before during his military career.”

Winter indicated a predawn raid intended to use darkness as cover was delayed, forcing the soldiers to move toward their objective as sunrise was approaching.

With the troops in danger of being exposed at daybreak, Winter explained how heavy fog quickly descended to shroud their movements until their mission was accomplished.

“Suddenly a cloud protected us,” he said, referring to clouds the Bible says guided the ancient Israelites as they wandered in the desert. “Clouds of glory.”

Winter said only when the soldiers were in a secure position, the fog finally lifted.

“It really was a fulfillment of the verse ‘For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to give you victory,’” he said, quoting Deuteronomy 20:4.

The Times of Israel notes Winter made headlines over an official letter he sent to battalion and company commanders July 9, telling his subordinates that “history has chosen us to spearhead the fighting (against) the terrorist ‘Gazan’ enemy which abuses, blasphemes and curses the God of Israel’s (defense) forces.”

The dispatch came under fire from some, since it portrayed the Operation Protective Edge as a religious war against non-Jews. The Israeli government’s stated aim is to stop rocket attacks at Israel and destroy a network of tunnels dug under the border from Gaza used to launch terror attacks inside Israeli territory.

In his interview with Mishpacha, Winter defended his message, saying everyone finds God when in combat.

“Anyone who attacked me for the letter apparently has only seen weapons in pictures, was never in combat, and doesn’t know what fighting spirit is,” he said, revealing that before going into action his custom was to recite the blessing with which the ancient Israelite priests would bless the army before it went to war.

“When a person is in a life-threatening situation he connects with his deepest internal truths, and when that happens, even the biggest atheist meets God,” he said, claiming soldiers see so many miracles, “it is hard not to believe [in God].”

Portions of this article were taken from WND

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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.”