Operation Swords of Iron – Week 21

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By HFI Staff Writers

Emboldened Islamic terror groups and factions are the direct product of not standing for truth and peace in the Middle East – in the sense of what is required to establish deterrence. On an international level, the world is beginning to pay the price for not standing up to terror, and to its main state sponsor, Iran.

On the other hand, many individuals who are choosing to stand for Israel and for the truth are experiencing personal abuse, threats and discrimination. On college campuses, students are spat at for listening to pro-Israel speakers, while pro-Israel British lawmakers are considering building safe rooms in their offices and homes. Our content has received violent threats on social media, including sexual violence.

In other words, the headline for this week could be, “the cost of standing for Israel – and the cost of not standing for Israel.”

In Israel itself, tensions are high, and the country is waiting – waiting for the hostages to return home, waiting for the war in Gaza to end, and waiting for an explosion of tensions to the north or in Judea and Samaria. This week also brought local elections throughout Israel, while the call for national elections grows.

Hope for Israel’s “Operation Restoration” continues to provide practical support for Israelis affected by the war, including evacuated families and wounded soldiers. When you support “Operation Restoration” you are bringing hot meals and emotional support to wounded soldiers and their families in Israeli hospitals. Hope for Israel will continue to support the people of Israel through whatever the next period of war will bring.

Overall Statistics from Operation “Swords of Iron”:
  • 1,516 Israelis and internationals have been killed, most of them on October 7th.
  • 582 Israeli soldiers have been killed, 242 of them in the ground operation in Gaza. 3,009 soldiers have been injured to varying degrees since the beginning of the war.
  • 134 Israelis and foreign nationals, including multiple children, remain hostages in Gaza. Included in the number are the bodies of hostages murdered by Hamas in captivity.
  • 14,563 Israelis have been injured in the war.
  • Over 12,500 rockets have been fired at Israeli civilians by Hamas and Hizballah since October 7th.
Home Front Update, Including Judea and Samaria

What happened this week on the home front?

  • An Israeli delegation is currently in Doha, Qatar for mediated negotiations with Hamas on a deal to release the remaining hostages.
  • Protests continued in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, with some footage of use of apparently excessive force by police officers. Protesters included released hostages.
  • Israel held municipal elections on Tuesday. During the elections, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired two rockets on Ashkelon, the first on the area in around 10 days.
  • Families of hostages began a march from the Gaza Envelope on Wednesday which is due to finish Saturday in Jerusalem.
  • Israeli parliament set to up the national budget deficit by nearly 4% in order to cover the costs of the war.
  • A Palestinian terrorist murdered two Israelis in a tragic shooting attack near the Israeli community of Eli in Samaria. May their memories be a blessing.

What happened this week in Judea and Samaria and in Palestinian internal affairs?

  • The Palestinian Authority government resigned, following growing economic hardship and popular disillusionment with PA officials. The PA is still widely considered by the international community to be the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, although most Palestinians would disagree.
  • Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a “month of Jihad” during Ramadan and for Palestinians to “break the siege” on the Temple Mount (in response to Israel considering restrictions on Muslim pilgrimage to the site during Ramadan). He also called on other Iranian proxies to ramp up support for Palestinians in Gaza.

Despite US assertions that a hostage deal is days away, Israeli officials – as well as Qatari and Egyptian mediators – remain more skeptical. The fact is that major disagreements likely remain between Israel and Hamas, regarding ceasefire and the IDF’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. These two issues have been the sticking point on a deal for weeks now and compromise on either side is unlikely.

At the same time, there is significant international pressure to reach a deal, especially before Ramadan, which some US officials believe could be a bad combination with continued IDF activity in Gaza. President Biden said this week that Israel had promised not to launch a Rafiah offensive during Ramadan, a claim which Israel has not commented on.

Additionally, last week we discussed the developments in Judea and Samaria and their potential to spark increased violence in Israel itself. As Hamas’ leaders call for violence and for increased Arab support, another piece is falling into place and the chances of Intifada are growing. Israel has not yet responded to Haniyeh’s comments; unfortunately, although publicizing the discussion of Temple Mount prayer may have been a bad decision on the government’s part to begin with, giving in to threats would only make the situation worse.

Gaza Front Update

What happened this week?

  • The IDF finished operations in Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip without causing harm to medical equipment, personnel or operations.
  • Israel is set to open a new crossing into Gaza to bring humanitarian aid directly to civilians, circumventing Hamas’ illegal seizing of the goods.
  • Mobs in Gaza are burning tires after allegations broke that Hamas is selling humanitarian aid. Footage was also released of civilians being run over by aid trucks as they attempted to steal what should be rightfully theirs were Hamas not in control.
  • Reports: Hamas leader Yehieh Sinwar is banking on high civilian casualties in coming Rafiah offensive, and says that the terror group is ready for the IDF. Egypt appears skeptical of the latter claim, saying that Sinwar has “lost touch with reality.”
  • Egypt and Jordan accused Israel of a “massacre” in Gaza after over 100 people were killed in a stampede to take humanitarian aid. Israel released aerial footage showing the incident.
  • Sadly, the IDF released the names of six fallen soldiers, five of whom fell this week in combat and one who fell on October 7th and whose body is currently being held hostage by Hamas.

This week, Sinwar’s own words proved just how little he cares about the wellbeing of his civilians. Other news about the humanitarian aid, including the allegation that it is being sold, again shows Hamas’ callousness towards the suffering for which it is responsible.

We cannot encourage the delusion that Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip would better peoples’ lives. They themselves know that Hamas is to blame for their situation and are increasingly vocal about it.

In order to support quality of life for the people of Gaza, it is essential to continue supporting Israel.

On a different note, this week the number of wounded Israeli soldiers from the war broke 3,000. These are 3,000+ young men and women, many of whom will be unable to return to their previous routines after the war. Tragically, there are thousands more who are suffering from invisible injuries.

Northern Front Update

What happened this week?

  • Hizballah continued to escalate tensions on Israel’s northern border this week, firing heavy barrages on Israeli civilian areas in the Galilee and Golan regions of northern Israel. Israel continues to strike Hizballah targets in return.
  • Hizballah shot down an Israeli UAV in Lebanese territory.
  • After a direct missile hit on a sensitive Air Force base in northern Israel, the IDF launched an airstrike nearly 100km inside Lebanon, the furthest since October 7th.
  • According to multiple reports, Iran has greenlighted Hizballah’s escalation.
  • Hizballah rockets were fired towards Kfar Hasidim, over 40km south of the Lebanese border.

Like the conflict in Judea and Samaria, the war of attrition between Israel and Hizballah may be reaching a boiling point. Heavy Hizballah barrages combined with Israel’s most ambitious strike to date and reports that Iran supports escalation led to the conclusion that a ceasefire unfortunately is not on the horizon.

Since the beginning of the war, Iran’s position has been somewhat obscure. The terror state has even apparently issued instructions to various proxies – including Hizballah – to be careful not to pull Israel into war. It is unclear what could have changed their position. It is also unclear what Israel’s response will be.

It is important to make clear just how serious the situation in the north has become. It is now impossible for Israelis to live normal lives in the entire Galilee region of northern Israel. Well over 100,000 people are still evacuated. Were it not for the war in Gaza, the level of tensions in the north would long ago have elicited serious military action from Israel.

International Front

What happened this week?

  • Left-wing French lawmakers called on the Olympic committee to ban Israeli national symbols at the coming 2024 Paris summer games.
  • Instagram banned the Irish Basketball Association after the latter backed a decision by its players not to shake hands with their Israeli opponents on the court.
  • Brazilians waved Israeli flags at a political protest in support of ex-President Bolsonaro.
  • Students called for “global intifada” outside a pro-Israel event on the campus of UC Berkeley in California. The protesters broke windows and an eyewitness even reported that attendees were spat on and called “Jew” derogatorily.
  • Around 9,000 people called on the prestigious Venice Biennale art show to boycott Israel.
  • In Britain, lawmakers report serious concerns of violence due to pro-Palestinian activism. After expressing support for Israel, some are considering resigning, wearing protective vests and installing safe rooms, among other measures.
  • New Zealand listed Hamas as a terrorist organization.

As we wrote at the beginning of the summary, the costs of standing for the truth of what is happening in the Middle East continue to rise. Much of the hatred directed towards Israeli supporters is violent, anti-Semitic and indiscriminate. If anything, this reality makes standing for the truth even more valuable. It also makes those brave enough to take a stand stand out.

For that reason, we want to truly thank you for stepping out in faith to support God’s Land and people. We don’t take your support for granted!

Partner with us in standing for the truth by:
  • Watching and sharing Moran’s latest video: we have not forgotten the horrors committed in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7th – have you?

Watch now >> The Tragedy of Kibbutz Kfar Aza

Please continue to pray with us for:
  • Israel’s Home Front, specifically:
    • The release of ALL the hostages, and for supernational protection over them in captivity.
    • Comfort for the families of Israel's fallen, as well as the families of victims of recent terror attacks.
    • Hope for those whose loved ones are among those still held hostage by Hamas.
    • Wisdom for Israel’s leaders as they navigate growing economic, security and social challenges.
    • Protection over Israelis - soldiers and civilians - who are struggling with PTSD.
    • Guidance and support for reserve-duty soldiers who are gradually being released to return to their jobs and families after months of combat.
  • Israel’s Military Fronts, specifically:
    • De-escalation on Israel’s northern border.
    • Protection over Israel's soldiers in Gaza, on the northern borders, in Judea and Samaria and in Eilat/the Red Sea.
    • Healing for injured soldiers, especially for those fighting bacterial or fungal infections contracted in Gaza.
  • The International Front, specifically:
    • For moral clarity regarding Israel, Hamas, and anti-Semitism.
    • For continued – and even growing – international understanding of the importance of Israeli military action in Rafiah.
    • International pressure for the immediate release of ALL the hostages.
    • Favor for Israel at the Hague.
    • Concerted action against anti-Semitism throughout the world.
    • For the Body of Messiah throughout the world to wake up and take a stand for God and for Israel.
  • HFI Prayer Requests, specifically:
    • That our online Israel advocacy content would reach and influence the right people.
    • The immediate cessation of attacks against our platforms
    • Funding for our continued work through "Operation Restoration" to support evacuated Israeli families.
  • Please also pray for
    • Civilians throughout the Arab world to awaken to the truth and come to know the God of Israel.
    • The LORD's peace to rule over our land and in the hearts of all in Israel and for Israel to come to know her Messiah!

May the God of Israel protect us all!

“Behold, He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.” – Psalms 121:4

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