Israel under Missile Attack from Hamas
This past week, Israel experienced a horrendous bombardment of over 3,150 rockets from Hamas in Gaza. Primarily striking in the southern region, the rockets fell on Israeli civilian targets day and night. Ten Israelis of varying ages have been killed. The Iron Dome anti-missile system, which deploys a rocket to intercept Hamas’s incoming rockets that are detected to land in civilian territory, has a success rate of 90 percent, a miracle of defense.
However, with Hamas sending hundreds of rockets at a time, the Iron Dome cannot always keep up, resulting in direct hits. Hamas targeted Israel’s center—Tel Aviv and surrounding cities—multiple times and sent millions to their bomb shelters or safe rooms. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has responded with targeted airstrikes in Gaza to take out Hamas’ infrastructure, rocket launchers, terrorist tunnels, and command offices. Israel sends leaflets, calls the building management, and even sends text messages to people to vacate the area before a strike. Most recently, a twelve-story building in Gaza was struck in a precision attack.
Though the offices of the Associated Press and other media were known to be housed in the building, the structure was also believed to be the location of Hamas’ military intelligence offices. It is a very difficult and complex situation.
Please pray for Israel’s leadership and protection for all civilians in harm’s way as well as innocent civilians in Gaza.
Coalition Talks on Hold
Naftali Bennett of the Yamina party has pulled out of coalition talks with the “change bloc” led by Yair Lapid. Lapid is currently tasked with forming a coalition unity government. He and other parties representing both left- and right-wing groups are trying to make a change and remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power, which he has held consecutively for twelve years. Bennett would normally lean toward Netanyahu’s camp, but he was trying to make a change and receive the premiership in a rotation.
Now, with the eruption of violence—not just from Hamas but internally from Arabs around the country—Bennett says that the change-bloc would not be able to handle the security situation. Wednesday saw the worst night of riots, hate rallies, and social chaos spreading throughout numerous cities, many of which had been a model of coexistence. The escalation of tension between Israeli Arabs and the radical Jewish population has been two-sided, with Jewish extremists also adding fuel to the fire.
On Monday, Lapid was about to announce to President Reuven Rivlin that a new coalition had basically been finalized with Bennett to serve as prime minister first and Lapid to replace him in a rotation deal, with the swearing in next week. Now, however, the conflict with Hamas leaves Israel in another political vacuum.
Please pray for leadership to take the reins in Israel and lead.
Israel’s Airport Closures
As a result of the conflict with Gaza, airlines from most foreign countries, including the United States and Europe, have canceled their flights for the next few days. Airlines do not want to take a chance on having a plane filled with passengers—either in the air or on the ground—struck by rockets or other projectiles sent from Gaza. Israel’s national carrier, El Al, is continuing flights.
In an alternate arrangement, scheduled arriving flights land at the Ramon Airport in Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city. People disembark the aircraft and board buses to different destinations around the country. Then the empty plane flies to Ben Gurion Airport to take on new passengers and depart to their destinations. This decision helped to widen the air traffic routes and to minimize the number of passenger-filled planes on the ground at any one place.
However, throughout the week, rockets have been fired toward Ben Gurion Airport, and Hamas even sent a long-range missile south toward Ramon Airport. As a result, the airlines have deemed travel very unsafe, and many have canceled all flights to and from Israel through the middle of the week.
Please pray for the safety and security of the airports, pilots, and security personnel making crucial decisions.
Please Pray for the Lord’s Peace in Israel
A personal note from one of our writers in Israel: I do not usually break out of my writing role to give personal thoughts. This “Inside Israel” was one of the hardest to write, as these stories were not just headlines but real life for us. I have been in Israel almost fourteen years and have heard the sirens and the rockets before, but this time it was astounding. Over the past five days, rockets have fallen in the center of Israel at 9:00 pm, 3:00 am, 7:30 pm, 1:00 am, and 2:00 pm, and there was even a massive bombardment on the Sabbath. More than one hundred missiles were sent in our direction each time. It sounded like gigantic fireworks.
We went to our stairwell since we do not have a “safe room” in our apartment, and we got to know our neighbors in a whole new way—mainly in our pajamas! They helped distract the kids so that they would not focus on the sound of the “booms,” which are the Hamas rockets being intercepted by the Iron Dome, Israel’s anti-missile system. We had to wake the children from their sleep and move fast. We returned to bed and heard the rockets again; this happened about three times with only ten minutes in between. It took the kids a while to calm down and go back to sleep. The sound of every motor outside—especially motorcycles—makes me freeze for a second. I see it in the kids too.
The sound of the ambulance sirens was changed to sound like those in Europe instead of the sound of the sirens signaling incoming rockets, which takes the edge off a little. Imagine those living in Israel’s south who have borne the brunt of the rocket attacks night and day! My colleagues—who are also my friends—have reached out to all the people to whom we are ministering. We have prayed with, listened to, cried with, laughed with, and helped relocate those we could. Please continue to pray.