“Much Ado About Gaza”
In May, 2021, Israel and Hamas, the terrorist organization who is at the helm of the government in Gaza, became involved in an eleven day war. It was not the first, nor will it be the last war between the two sides. Just recently, Israel and Islamic Jihad, also operating in Gaza, became involved in a mini-war during the first week of August, 2022. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been launching rockets and missiles into Israel for years and the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) has usually responded, mostly by using Israel’s air force. The 11 day war in 2021 was the largest conflict between the opposing sides since the Gaza war in 2014, in which the IDF eventually had to send ground forces into the enclave.
Most people watching the media’s reports of the repeated clashes between Hamas and Israel don’t pay a whole lot of attention because, to this point, it has not directly affected them personally. In this writing I hope to show that the conflict between Israel and Hamas may soon have important prophetic significance due to other prophetic events it will be connected with. These events are now on the horizon and as they unfold, they will eventually affect much more of our world than just the Middle East.
As these latest conflicts unfolded, it appeared that the major powers—other than voicing concern about the casualties and infrastructure destruction in Gaza—had issues of greater importance on their plates. Russia is heavily involved with Ukraine and its standoff with NATO in eastern Europe. China is aggressively pushing its own agenda on several fronts and appears to be on a collision course with a number of nations, including, Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea, and especially Taiwan. The United States, for the most part, is taking a “hands off” policy—at least on the surface, as the Biden administration continues to realign much of the US foreign policy away from that of the Trump administration.
The Middle East has been plagued with conflict throughout the centuries but the emphasis of this writing will be to look mainly at what has unfolded since Israel became a nation on May 14,1948, but more importantly, what the Bible tells us of the Middle East conflicts directly ahead— just prior to the return of the Messiah.
It is amazing that the city of Jerusalem has been such a lightning rod throughout the centuries. Most world-class cities are located on a great river or near a deep water port. Jerusalem cannot claim either one. Yet, throughout its long history, this ancient city has been completely destroyed at least twice; once by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC and then again in 70-71 AD by Roman General Titus, eldest son of Roman Emperor Vespasian. In addition to its complete destruction twice, it was besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and recaptured 44 times.
Today, Jerusalem is the bullseye of a great tug-of-war between the vast Muslim world, who claim the Temple Mount as their third most holy site (although not mentioned once in the Qu’ran), and the Jewish people, who have been returning back to their ancient homeland after near 2,000 years of being scattered all over the world. The number of Jews returning to their ancient homeland has escalated, especially since Israel was declared a sovereign nation once again in 1948. The Muslim world however denies that Jewish history goes back nearly 4,000 to the time of their patriarch, Abraham.
On the day after Israel was once again declared an independent sovereign nation, the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon attacked the fledgling nation, intending to obliterate it from the face of the earth. By a miracle of God’s intervention, they failed miserably. Civil war however broke out within the new nation and fighting continued until a temporary armistice was reached in 1949. As part of the armistice agreement, the West Bank came under Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip was placed under the control of Egypt.
A number of wars and assorted acts of terrorism have ensued since the Arab-Israeli war in 1948. I won’t take the time to detail them here but they include:
- The Suez Crisis in 1956
- The Six-Day War in 1967
- The Yom Kippur War in 1973
- Lebanon War in 1982
- First Palestinian Intifada in 1987
- Second Palestinian Infitada in 2000
- Second Lebanon War in 2006
- Hamas Wars, the most significant ones having happened in 2008, 2012, 2014, and the most recent clash in 2021.
For decades the constant drumbeat has been for modern-day Israel to be divided into two independent states, one for the Jews, and one for the Palestinians. Negotiations at one time had offered Yassar Arafat, chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, 97% of what he demanded, but, he refused the offer. And so the wrangling has gone on through the administrations of a number of US presidents as well as Israeli prime ministers.
Truth be told, Israel is already having to tolerate a four-state solution. According to the original maps drawn and agreed upon after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War 1, the new nation state formed for the Jewish people was to include land which is now the nation of Jordan. Due to the vehement uproar of the Arabs, the boundaries were redrawn and Transjordan was founded in 1922. Today the nation of Israel also includes the West Bank which was also part of the temporary armistice agreement in 1949, along with the Gaza Strip. In the Six-Day War of 1967, in what started as a planned surprise attack on Israel, the Israeli military soundly defeated Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. This resulted in Israel taking control of the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. These areas are still considered “occupied” by the United Nations and most nations in the world. And, the UN still demands that Israel divide the tiny land mass—which is about the size of the small U.S. State of New Jersey—into two autonomous nations, Israel and Palestine.
Now that we’ve taken a quick look at a very limited summary of what has transpired—mostly since Israel’s independence in 1948, let’s discuss Gaza.
After being reclaimed from Egypt by Israel in the Six-Day War, Gaza slowly began to be reintegrated into Israel. Approximately 9,000 settlers began to develop land they had purchased, building large greenhouses, turning useless acres into agricultural projects, and constructing new communities complete with schools, shops, and municipal centers.
Yet, the attacks from the Palestinians in Gaza, but also criticism from nations all around the world, accusing Israel of being “occupier”, never stopped. Finally, in order to try and bring some semblance of peace and also to tamp down on criticism of Israel from all around the world—although it would prove to be a grave historical error, prime minister Ariel Sharon and the Israeli government made the decision for a unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip as well as four settlements in North Samaria on August 15, 2005. IDF installations and forces were removed and over 9,000 Israeli citizens living in 25 settlements were evicted. Those who refused to leave were eventually forcibly removed by the Israeli military. By September 22, 2005, Israel’s withdrawal was complete.
Less than two years later, in June of 2007, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority. Since that time, multiplied thousands of rockets and missiles have been fired into Israel, terrorizing Israeli citizens. This finally culminated into the 2014 Israeli-Hamas war in which Israel finally had to send in an IDF ground force into Gaza to put a stop to the uprising.
This brings us to May 10, 2021 and the eleven day war. Using the excuse of a court case involving some Palestinians who had lived for decades as squatters in homes owned by Israeli citizens without paying rent, and a preplanned riot on the temple mount in which Palestinian rioters accessing piles of rocks prestaged in the Al Aqsa mosque, rioters began throwing the rocks and frozen water bottles at Israeli police, leaving the police no choice but to use force to quell the violence. At the same time, rockets and missiles began to be launched by Hamas and and Islamic Jihad out of Gaza all over southern Israel. Soon missiles were being launched all the way to the outskirts of Jerusalem and hundreds more at Tel Aviv, forcing Israel to shut Ben Gurion airport to all commercial plane traffic.
In eleven days, Hamas launched nearly 4,000 rockets into Israel. The IDF of course quickly responded and hit hundreds of Hamas targets throughout Gaza. The Israeli air force also destroyed many miles of tunnels that Hamas dug for use as a network to move weapons, ammunition, rockets and missiles to locations all across Gaza—mostly in locations that had dense populations of civilians. Many of Hamas’ rocket launchers were located in hospitals and schools, using civilians including women and children as human shields. Of the thousands of rockets fired at Israel, between 600-700 fell back into Gazan territory, killing many of their own people. When a ceasefire was finally declared, ten Israeli’s had been killed and well over 200 Gazans, mostly Hamas or Islamic Jihad militants. Sadly, there were civilians among the dead too, mostly women and children.
In the heat of the conflict, Prime Minister Netanyahu had stated in no uncertain terms that the IDF would not stop their operations this time until the entire Hamas problem was eliminated. Unfortunately, due to enormous pressures from the UN and other international entities, Israel agreed to a brokered ceasefire before this was accomplished. Although Hamas had taken a vicious pounding from the IDF, the terrorist organization was left well able to restructure and rebuild in preparation for its next moves against Israel. In a typical war, if it is a win, ground is taken. Three sides are attacked and the fourth left open as a back door for civilians to escape. The question was being asked by many during the hostilities if prophecies in Obadiah were going to be fulfilled or would it be another Ariel Sharon type of outcome. In this case, Instead of a decisive war, the 11 day conflict became just another skirmish—although a serious one—and the real war is still to come..
The Old Testament prophets had much to say about the “Tents of Edom”. This is another way of describing the descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, son of Isaac. In Obadiah we find these words spoken by Israel’s enemies in the last part of verse 1:
“Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle”
Most of the rest of this article will be spent on verses 15 to the end of the chapter, coupled with an assortment of other Old Testament passages, giving additional prophetic details to the story.. Note: For the balance of this writing, the population residing in Gaza and the Palestinians, which they are a part of, will be referred to synonymously unless otherwise indicated.
Obadiah verses 2 and 3 gives a perfect description of the Palestinian status and “cause” today.
“Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You shall be greatly despised, the pride of your heart has deceived you…
It is worth noting, for all the accusations against Israel for its reluctance to allow a separate autonomous Palestinian State within Israeli borders, why is it that not one of the surrounding Arab nations have offered the same? Other than Lebanon to Israel’s north, the Arab national land masses dwarf the size of Israel. Yet, refugees who have been located in Arab nations, for instance Jordan, have had Palestinians living in huge refugee camps since 1948 and have made it nearly impossible for them to ever gain citizenship.
As a reader who might not know, you might ask the question: Who are the Palestinians? As mentioned above, they are descendants of Esau, the firstborn of Isaac’s twin boys, Esau and Jacob (whom God later renamed Israel). They were called Edomites and are referred to often in the Bible as The Tents of Edom. In truth, they are the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians of the West Bank, and the Palestinian Refugees. The three groups are a mixture of peoples who descend from various origins, only one of them being traceable back to Esau, father of the Edomites. According to the research included in an excellent resource book written by author Bill Salus, “Isralestine”, the Palestinians do not have a common historical lineage that specifically links them biologically to any distinct ethnicity, as the Jewish people do in their traceable common lineage to the biblical patriarchs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The genealogies of the Palestinian people can be traced back to the Edomites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Philistines, Sidonians, Ammonites, Moabites, Yemenites, Saudi Arabians, Moroccans, Christians from Greece, Muslim Sherkas from Russia, and Muslims from Bosnia, as well as others.
Much has been written about the ancient hatred that has smoldered within the descendants of Ishmael and Esau over the millennia and so I won’t go into it here. I have however watched the temperature in the cauldron in the Middle East continue to rise for many years now. The only answer for why it has not exploded into a full-fledged major Mideast war to date is because it was not yet time. God controls all times and seasons. The utter contempt spewed by Hamas, Hezbollah, and the leadership of Iran, as well as other Islamic entities, both Arab and Persian versions, is not being hidden. Below are three examples of a non-ending list of threats that have been made toward the nation of Israel in the past few years by Iranian, Arab, or Palestinian leaders, among others.
- Iranian test missiles have had the message printed on the outside of these missiles clear back to early 2016, saying, “Israel must be wiped out”
- On May 22, 2016, an Iranian commander bragged to the world, “We can destroy Israel in under 8 minutes!”
- On January 28, 2019, an Iranian general said “Tehran aims to wipe Israel off the ‘global political map.’”
- Here, mid-November, 2022, Iranian media with alleged connections to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, has a front page threat to be able to destroy Tel Aviv within 400 seconds with its newly developed hyper-sonic missile.
As much as many would like to see peace being achieved without conflict, it will never happen. The hatred for the Jews all across the Muslim world is too great. This is not a “normal” hatred; it is a demonic hatred driven by Satan himself for God’s chosen people—the vehicle to bring the Messiah into the world.. Ancient Islamic writings foretell an all-out war between Islam and the Jews at the end of the age, and this is what most Islamic clerics and their followers are waiting for.
Continued in Part Two