Standing Firm Against the Rise of Palestinian Violence

Fifteen years ago today, two IDF soldiers, Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami, accidentally passed an Israeli checkpoint and entered Ramallah. They were detained by Palestinian police only to have the police station overrun by an angry mob of Palestinians. What happened next is one of the most horrific acts of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The soldiers were beaten, stabbed, had their eyes gouged out, and were Ramallah Lynchingdisemboweled. At this point, the Palestinian pictured below appeared at the window and displayed his blood-soaked hands to the crowd which erupted in cheers. The crowd clapped and cheered as one of the soldier’s body was thrown out of the window and stamped on and beaten by the frenzied crowd. The other bid was set on fire. Soon after this, the crowd dragged the two mutilated bodies to Al-Manara Square in the city center as the crowd began an impromptu victory celebration. Palestinian police did not attempt to stop any of this violence but instead joined in the violence.

Fifteen years later, not much has changed. While there is rarely true peace in the Land, there has been a fresh wave of intensified violence from the Palestinians as the result of a call to violence from Hamas and the Palestinian government in the region.

There have been countless stabbings, molotov cocktails, car rampages, beatings, and attacks from the Palestinians against Jews — simply for being Jewish.

How can the world be silent on the wave of terror happening in Israel right now?! The people calling for and committing these acts of terror are sick and evil. How else could you explain murdering people in this manner with no regard for human life? It’s pure evil.

Take the video below, for instance. This Palestinian man uses his car as a weapon and bulldozes Jews walking down the street. Next, he gets out of his car and begins hacking at the people lying on the sidewalk with a butcher’s knife before being stopped by a pedestrian with a gun. Who does this?! How could any sane, good person do these things to another human being for no reason?

And yet, this is what the Jewish people have faced their entire existence. There has always been someone that wanted to destroy and exterminate Israel. And while there is nothing new under the sun, the one thing that has changed is you.

You are alive and here for such a time as this. You may not be able to do anything to change the past but you can surely do something to change the future. It starts with you standing for what is right and not backing down in the face of evil. When someone speaks against Israel, be ready with an answer and stand firm for what you know is true. Pray for Israel and her people’s safety and peace. Get on your face before YHVH and ask Him to protect and comfort His people.

YHVH’s promise to His people is that He will never leave them nor forsake them. He will comfort them from Zion. YHVH will defend and rescue His people! He will not forget them nor let them be destroyed! Try as they might, the enemy will never succeed in destroying God’s people! Remember, we do not fight against flesh and blood and that vengeance is God’s; therefore, prayer is our most powerful weapon right now. We should not be fearful but remember that YHVH will deliver His people from the hand of the enemy!

The time is now. Will you be ready to stand firm? Will you be willing to stand for truth? You can make a difference and you can help change the future. Let’s stand firm with our brother Judah during this time violence.

*WARNING: Some viewers may find the following content disturbing*

Israel Loves Life and Pursues Peace

As I’ve followed the ongoing situation in Israel and watched as events have unfolded, I’ve noticed there are a lot of false accusations being made against Israel. In this post, I will address some of the most common accusations and hopefully shed some truth on the situation.

1. Israel is committing war crimes
First, let’s start off by defining what a war crime is. War crimes are serious violations of the laws and customs of war. Here are some examples of war crimes:

1. the murder, mistreatment, or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps
2. the murder or mistreatment of POWs/civilian internees
3. forcing protected persons to serve in the forces of a hostile power
4. killing hostages, killing or punishing spies or other persons convicted of war crimes without a fair trial
5. wantonly destroying cities, towns, villages, or any object not warranted by military necessity.

I think it’s pretty obvious that two of these examples are what the world is using as their focus in their campaign against Israel. So let’s address #1 and #5. Israel has not murdered, mistreated, or deported any civilian residents of occupied territory because Gaza is not occupied territory. Yup….I said it. Let me repeat that. Gaza is not occupied territory. Let me give you a very brief explanation as to why.

Article 6 of “The Mandate for Palestine” reads: “The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.”

Article 6, therefore, commands the British government to encouragement “settlement” on the land of Palestine from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, which includes the West Bank and Gaza.

In 2005, in an effort to broker a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Israel withdrew from Gaza and the West Bank and demolished many Israeli homes and settlements in the area. By pulling out of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel ensured that Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region would establish a stronghold in these territories. So, Israel isn’t occupying Gaza or the West Bank. They have left these disputed areas and allowed the Palestinians to elect their government…Hamas.

When Operation Protective Edge began three weeks ago, the world was quick to cry out that Israel had invaded Gaza. You can’t invade a country that you already occupy. To invade means to forcibly enter a land or region so as to subjugate or occupy it. So which is it? Has Israel been occupying Gaza all these years? Or are they now invading?

Even if you dispute the non-occupied territory claim, Israel hasn’t murdered, mistreated, or deported civilian residents of Gaza.

Israel regularly sends humanitarian aid to Gaza. This aid has continued despite the attacks by Hamas in Gaza and Operation Protective Edge. In fact, as of July 20, 2014, Israel had sent 148 trucks of food and medical supplies, 250 tons of gas, and 720,000 liters of fuel into Gaza. In addition, Israel also set up a field hospital near the border with Gaza in order to treat the civilians injured in the crossfire, primarily the women and children. Two days ago, Hamas opened fire on this field hospital and severely handicapped its operations.

The Israeli Defense Forces has also gone to great lengths to ensure innocent civilian lives aren’t lost. Contrary to popular belief, they are not targeting civilians. The reason so many “civilians” have died in Gaza is because Hamas uses the civilian population as human shields.

Hamas frequently uses hospitals, schools, playgrounds, and homes as the launch sites for their rocket attacks. When the IDF warns civilians to leave the vicinity because they are about to conduct a strike against these known terrorist targets, Hamas tells their civilians not to leave but instead, coerces them to stay.

One of the avenues the IDF employs to warns the Palestinian civilians are emergency warnings on the television. In order to keep their populace ignorant of these warnings – and thereby losing their human shields – Hamas takes control of the airwaves and instead airs only propaganda against Israel.

Israel is also not maliciously destroying cities, towns, or villages. They are destroying terrorist targets.  Remember, Hamas hides their rocket caches in heavily populated areas. The definition of war crime stipulates, unless warranted by military necessity. I think destroying a terrorist organization’s stockpile of weapons is pretty good justification for military necessity.

Which brings me to my next point.

2. Israel should exercise restraint
Have we forgotten that Hamas is a terrorist organization??? Terrorists. As in terrorists who kill innocent people. The same kind of terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11. Or have we forgotten? Because we sure act like we have forgotten.

Why should terrorists get “fair” treatment? Israel does everything within reason, and beyond, to ensure that truly innocent lives are spared. They call on the telephone, send text messages, drop leaflets, leave voice messages, and fire warning shots before conducting a strike on a known terrorist target. No other military in the world goes to such lengths to ensure that innocent lives are spared.

And don’t think Israel has to do this either. They don’t. This is war. And Hamas doesn’t take any measures to ensure innocent Israeli lives are spared. In fact, the opposite is true! Hamas purposefully targets the populations where they have better chances of killing Israeli civilians. The charter of Hamas says, “We love death as much as the Jews love life.”

Take a minute and let that sink in. The Jews love life and do all they can to preserve and protect life. Hamas does all they can to destroy and end life. They want to cause destruction. They love chaos and confusion.

Israel wants peace. Israel loves life.

3. Israel’s response is not proportional
Why should Israel’s response be proportional? They had rockets fired at their innocent civilians by terrorists who have vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, and the world wants Israel to exercise restraint? The official U.S. position has supported and defended Israel’s right to self-defense. But they have also been the loudest ones in the cry for restraint. So which is it? Can they defend themselves or do they show restraint? Are they allowed to defend themselves up to a certain point? Who gets to decide that point? I’m guessing it would be a nation whose citizens aren’t under constant rocket attack. Or isn’t being threatened by all its surrounding countries to be wiped off the map.

I hate to sound cold but, that’s war. Since the beginning of time wars have been fought. They haven’t been pretty and they haven’t been fair. Land has been won and lost. People have built up and been displaced. Rulers have been enthroned and rules have been deposed. Israel isn’t trying to land-grab – much like we just saw Russia do in the Ukraine. Israel isn’t killing her own people – like we see happening in Syria. Israel isn’t pursuing a dangerous weapon of mass destruction – like her Iranian neighbor. Israel isn’t trying to overthrow a country – as is the case with ISIS in Iraq. All Israel wants is to live. To live at peace with her neighbors.

The world is angry that more Palestinians have died than Israelis. Is one life more precious than another? Most of these civilian casualties are caused by Hamas. They kill their own people. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. One of their main tactics is to use suicide bombers to kill people. This is a people who is willing to sacrifice its own children for an ideology of hate. Their hatred for the Jews, for America, for YHVH, for truth, runs so deeply within them that they are willing to sacrifice their own children for their ideology of hate. And they will not stop. This is not a hunger that can ever be satisfied. They will not stop until someone steps up and stops them. So far, Israel is the only one who is willing to rise to the challenge. Through Israel, and her destruction of terror, the whole world will be blessed. Will we thank them or will we punish them?

4. Israel is killing innocent civilians, including women and children
Clearly Hamas thinks so little of a human life that they would willingly sacrifice their life or the life of a woman or child in order to further their jihad. The rules of engagement that we as Americans adhere to in war are different than the rules terrorists follow, and we usually pay a heavy price when we fail to realize this. Terrorists, particularly those in heavily populated areas, will frequently use women or children as human shields to protect themselves. They understand the humanitarian rules and exploit them. They know Israel will cancel an operation if civilians are seen in the area. Because of this, Hamas hides their weapons and launches their rocket attacks from places such as schools, mosques, hospitals, and homes.

To make matters more confusing, most of these civilians are not as innocent as we think. Many times these civilians are aiding the terrorists or are terrorists themselves but are dressed as civilians and living among the civilian population in order to avoid detection. Families frequently offer up their children as human sacrifices for the purpose of jihad. Dozens of the women and children killed in Gaza are killed when rockets backfire, misfire, or are fired too early.

And let’s not forget that Israel is also being attacked. They are seeing rockets fall in their sovereign land every, single day. What about Israeli children that are being harmed and dealing with the stress of rocket attacks every hour? What about the Israeli women that are injured shielding and protecting their children from rockets and debris?

Let us not forget that Israel has agreed to 2 humanitarian ceasefires only to have Hamas continue to fire rockets into Israel. Hopefully the UN, during their one-sided investigation into the Israeli “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity,” will remember that. But with a largely biased majority of Muslim countries and Western countries unwilling to stand up for what it right and just, its unlikely. But maybe, just maybe, they will acknowledge the truth they know to be true about Israel.

That Israel loves life and pursues peace.

The Power of Prayer

With the situation on the ground in Gaza heating up and rockets continually falling in Israel, many people around the world have become quite worried about the growing war in the Promised Land and what it means for them.

For some, they are considering cancelling their tours to the Holy Land. For others, they have resolved to never go to the Promised Land. Some still desire to go but are postponing trips for a “safer time” – what a “safer time” in Israel looks like I’m not sure but it is for this that they wait. And for others, this only strengthens their resolve that the Land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob needs her people to return to her more than ever.

The decision by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to cancel all flights in and out of Israel hasn’t helped this growing fear of returning to the Land. In fact, the American decision led to many European airlines halting all their air traffic to Israel as well. The Israeli Transportation Minister has urged American and European air travel to resume calling the move a “prize to terrorism.”

Since the outset of Operation Protective Edge on July 8, 2014, over 200 Hamas militant terrorists have been killed and 30 tunnels and 63 tunnel shafts have been discovered.

However, these simple stats don’t do justice to the real impact of Operation Protective Edge. Israel is not just making Israel a safer place to live. Israel is making the entire world a safer place. By removing Hamas militants and tearing down their infrastructure, Israel is ridding the world of a deadly tumor that threatens to overtake all that is good in the world.

A literal translation of the operation’s name (Hebrew: מִבְצָע צוּק אֵיתָן, Mivtza’ Tzuk Eitan) is “Operation Steadfast Cliff” or “Firm Cliff.” More loosely translated it is, “Operation Solid Rock” or “Operation Mighty Cliff.” The IDF’s official Arabic translation reads “Operation Resolute Cliff.”

This literal translation reminds me of how YHVH’s love for us is “steadfast” and immovable; that YHVH Himself is unchanging and forever. For us as believers, it should also remind us that Yeshua is our Rock on which we stand. If we are firmly – or steadfastly – planted on the Rock, then when the storm beats down on us and tries to destroy us, we will stand firm and not be moved.

The same is true of Israel.

They are standing firm on the promises of YHVH and are establishing themselves on His “Solid Rock.” There is a storm raging in Israel right now…and it’s nothing new. For thousands of years the same storm has been brewing and will continue until Messiah Yeshua reigns from His rightful throne on the Temple Mount.

The entire world is coming against Israel right now. They accuse them of war crimes, of humanitarian violations, of being the murderers of women and children; it’s a never-ending list.

So what can we do?

I’ve read reports of the so-called “lone soldiers” who leave their comfortable lives in places like Australia, Europe, and America and volunteer to fight in the Israeli Defense Forces. They sacrifice everything to serve and defend the nation with which they feel a spiritual connection. Others are volunteering with groups and organizations to go to Israel and do what they can. They are volunteer fire-fighters, volunteer medical personnel, and even volunteer meal servers.

Others organize gatherings of support in their local communities for Israel. They raise funds to send with those who volunteer to travel to Israel. They organize the community’s support for the People of Israel.

YHVH asks each of us to play our part and our individual roles may look different. And while we all have different reactions to the situation in Israel, there are two things we have in common. First, we can’t discourage each other from the unique path and giftings YHVH has given each one of us. We should be encouraging one another in the different talents that we possess and the special training that YHVH has for each of us. Second, we can all pray.

We may not agree on how right Israel is, or how far you would go to support them, or if they are reacting too strongly, or how much you empathize with the Palestinians. But regardless of those differences, Jews and Christians alike both agree that the Land of Israel was the land promised to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are fighting for their inheritance from YHVH Himself – Maker of the Heavens and Earth.

Wouldn’t you fight for your inheritance from the Almighty too?

The Word of God is clear that we must stand with Israel. That we must stand with Him. So regardless of your feelings on the situation, YHVH is still sovereign and is clearly working in the midst of this war.

So the one thing we can all do is pray in support of Israel.

Michael Freund put it best in his appeal to Christians and Jews that they pray the Psalms as a response to the spiritual battle being waged in Israel.

“If our foes are resorting to their form of holy war, I think it’s incumbent upon us not to abandon the sacred weapons that we have in our arsenal, chief and foremost among them, the power of prayer…The international arena is comprised of actors. But what they don’t tell you is that there is also a Director.

Now each of us has the ability on a daily basis to have a direct conversation with the Director. To talk to Him about what we would like to see in the script that is world history. We dare not forego such an opportunity. We dare not ignore our ability as individuals, as communities, to have an input, to have a say, in how the future develops. No one out there should ever feel powerless about what’s going on. Because at the end of the day we each have, through the power of prayer…the ability to influence events.”

We too, like Esther and Daniel before us, can get on our faces before our God – King of the Universe – and appeal to Him. Because this isn’t a battle of flesh and blood. This is a spiritual battle and it won’t be over till there is a victor. I know Who that victor is. This is a spiritual battle with our inheritance hanging in the balance that can only be fought with surrendered hearts and bent knees.

Choose this day on whose side you will fight.