By David Aikman, Editor in Chief
Ever since May 14,1948 when David Ben-Gurion, executive head of the World Zionist Organization, declared the independence and (re) establishment of the State of Israel, this country, so precious to committed lovers of Jesus, has been under almost constant threat to its survival as a nation.
On May 11,1949 the State of Israel was admitted to membership in the United Nations with UN Resolution 273 after receiving the approval of 37 countries: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, ByelorussianSSR, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican_Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Ukrainian SSR, USSR, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia.
Following the successful war of independence in 1948-49, there were at least six major conflicts between 1967 and 1973. In the Six-Day War of June 1967, the Gaza Strip was taken back by Israel, and retained for the next quarter century. There have been several other existential battles that Israel has faced since then.
Now Israel is facing yet another major crisis with the unrest between Israeli citizens of Arab background (about 20 percent of the population of the country) and Jewish Israelis in Jerusalem and other cities in Israel with large populations of both Jews and Arabs. Some have warned of the danger of a full scale civil war breaking out between Jews and Arabs in the country.
Christians must pray earnestly that the ethnic rivalry between Jews and Arabs deescalates. There is a major danger of civil war along ethnic lines, and this would be a catastrophe for the country. The Hamas charter, published in 1988, calls on Muslims everywhere to fight for the destruction of Israel. It also specifically invites Muslims to kill Jews wherever they find them.
Will Israel Take Back the Gaza Territory?
Israel, which gave up the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian National Authority in 2007, has faced persistent rocket barrages into its territory from Islamist groups like Hamas operating in Gaza.
If the Israeli government feels it has no alternative to the current belligerence of the Islamists of Gaza than to invade and take back the Gaza territory, the international ramifications will be gigantic.
Naturally, Israel will come under the global condemnation at the United Nations and elsewhere by people who regard the Palestinian demands as non-negotiable.
As far as Israelis are concerned, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that the destructive attitude of Islamists has united the Jewish people as never before.
We don’t know yet what the attitude will be of the United States, but we do know that under Biden administration, America has been much less supportive of Israel than it was under former President Donald Trump, Biden’s predecessor.
Hundreds of Missiles Fired into Israel
Palestinian Islamic groups in Gaza, which is governed by the Islamic Resistance Movement also known as Hamas, have launched thousands of missiles into Israel. These have killed and wounded dozens of Israeli citizens.
Israel has responded by launching strikes against military targets in Gaza, including at individuals associated with planning the strikes against Israel and the actual locations from where the rockets are launched.
Inevitably, civilians have been killed and wounded in Gaza who were unconnected with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. This is the worst violence in years between Israelis and Palestinians, with hundreds of Palestinians killed and wounded, and the United Nations warned the conflict could mushroom into “full-scale war.”
This week, Netanyahu warned Hamas that if they did not suppress the rockets being launched into the Gaza territory in Israel, there would be a profound military assault on the country by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
There are reports of many tanks being assembled close to the Israeli border with Gaza. Many people have interpreted Netanyahu’s ultimatum as a warning that Israel may completely invade Gaza as a whole territory with its ground forces.
A full-scale land invasion would be much more serious than any previous wars involving Palestinians.
Essentially, Israel would be taking back, at least temporarily, the entire administration and livelihood of those living on the Gaza Strip. The destruction caused as a result of a military initiative would have profound consequences internationally.
Biblically speaking, the Lord our God does not instruct us to trade land He's given us for peace (see Deuteronomy 7).
Pray Earnestly for Israel
Followers of Jesus in the United States and internationally do not have the luxury of not being concerned about what happens in Israel. In fact, ever since President Harry Truman recognized the new state of Israel within minutes of its Declaration of Independence by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, American Christians have been instinctively pro Israel. Let us pray that this biblically-based affinity for the Jewish state remains strong, in spite of pressures within the Biden administration to follow a different course.
The future of Christian believers all over the world is in many ways intimately bound up with the destiny of Israel.
We Christians must pray earnestly for grace and wisdom for that country and its leaders, even as we live out our own destiny in God’s kingdom.
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