“Following ten days of Hamas attacks against Israel by land, air, and sea,” reports the IDF Blog, “ – and after repeated rejections of offers to deescalate the situation – the Israel Defense Forces has started a new phase of Operation Protective Edge. A large IDF force of infantry, tanks, artillery, combat engineers, and field intelligence is entering the Gaza Strip. The force is supported by the Israel Air Force, Navy, and other Israeli security agencies. Their mission is to target Hamas’ tunnels that cross under the Israel-Gaza border and enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks.”
Adding to the list of validations for the ground invasion is the fact that Hamas violated a five-hour agreement to a suspension of fire that was designed to bring aid to its own people in Gaza. In the “humanitarian window,” both sides agreed to stop firing from 10am to 3pm in order to allow Gaza’s people to emerge from their homes for replenishment of supplies. Israel kept their word, but Hamas did not keep theirs. Three mortars were fired from Gaza around noon and despite previous warnings of a decisive response, Israel refrained and abided by their commitment for the entire five-hour window.
At 8:30am Israel time The Times of Israel noted that IDF air power had discovered 13 Palestinians emerging from a tunnel some 250 yards inside Israel. The militants retreated back into the tunnel when they saw the aircraft and IDF struck the tunnel immediately afterwards. Hamas radio reported that all 13 returned home safely, however, IDF confirmed later that eight were killed. Found at the tunnel site were shoulder mounted RPGs and materials suggesting a plan to take Israeli hostages from the nearby town of Sufa.
The Israel Defense Force summarized its announcement of the ground campaign start with the following words:
"Hamas has sworn itself to endless war against Israel. Its suicide bombers have targeted buses, schools, restaurants, malls, and more. Its rocket launching squads have fired …thousands of rockets in the past decade, making life intolerable not only for Israeli communities near the Gaza border, but also in major cities including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Ashdod, and Ashkelon. The Israel Defense Forces will operate wherever necessary in order to protect the people of Israel."
The Times quoted IDF Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz as saying, “Large numbers of ground troops are controlling objectives in the Gaza Strip,” about an hour after troops first entered the Strip, adding that the operation will expand as necessary with highly motivated troops.
Earlier today, 20 rockets were discovered in the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) School in Gaza. The school is “responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees.” Israel has long charged Hamas with breaking international conventions by using civilian settings as bases of military operations and here is further proof. UNRWA was summoned to Jerusalem where they apologized to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Though they are well known to be highly critical of Israel, their official statement condemned the weapons stash as a “flagrant violation” and reported it has been removed and an investigation launched.
Urgent, fervent prayer is needed.
Please pray for: • A swift end to the fighting with minimal loss of life • Pray for IDF personnel and their families • The residents of Israel • The residents of Gaza • The most vulnerable in both places: innocent civilians, women, children, and the elderly • Israel’s leaders as they make very serious decisions with the potential to impact the entire Middle East • The individual people on both sides of the border to come to faith in Yeshua.
Yeshua alone is the source of peace, freedom, and rescue. May He be seen and embraced as Lord by every heart that is filled with either fear or hatred.
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To the Jew first and also to the Nations, Jewish Voice Ministries International