Israel’s multi-front war – entering difficult phase, no end in sight

9 February 2024

It has been more than three months since the Simchat Torah War began, a war the likes of which Israel has never seen, and where the end is not yet in sight.

The Israel Defense Forces’ operation against Hamas is “progressing and achieving its goals,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated early February. Gallant stated that 18 Hamas battalions had been dismantled and about half of the Hamas terrorists killed or seriously wounded. Israeli forces stepped up airstrikes on Rafah Thursday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to expand the military offensive into the southernmost Gaza city, where over a million Palestinians have crowded into amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

More than half of the Gaza Strip’s population has fled to Rafah, on the mostly sealed border with Egypt, which is also the main entry point for humanitarian aid. Egypt has warned that any ground operation there or mass displacement across the border would undermine its four-decade-old peace treaty with Israel.

In Khan Younis, a senior military officer said troops were “peeling back” Hamas’s infrastructure. Khan Younis is the hometown of Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, mastermind of the October 7 murder and kidnapping spree in southern Israel that sparked the war.“I assess beyond a doubt that he is in Khan Younis – along with some of the remaining Hamas leadership,” an Israeli officer said.

The United States issued strident warnings against Israel expanding a large-scale offensive into the city, warning of catastrophic consequences unless civilians sheltering in the city were accounted for.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in the Middle East this week. The U.S. is leading efforts to mediate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that would result in release of some or all of the hostages still held by Hamas. So far these efforts have been unsuccessful. Hamas this week proposed a ceasefire plan that would see a four-and-a-half-month truce during which hostages would be freed in three stages, and which would lead to an end to the war, in response to a proposed outline sent last week by Qatari and Egyptian mediators and backed by the United States and Israel. This proposal was rejected by Israel as “delusional”.

Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “held a long and in-depth meeting in private” at the latter’s Jerusalem office on Wednesday. During his last visit, Blinken expressed support for “tangible steps” towards the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, speaking during a meeting with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Before arriving in Israel, Blinken visited Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The U.S., along with mediators Egypt and Qatar, has continued to push for a hostage release agreement that would be accompanied by a truce, with a Hamas delegation arriving in Cairo for negotiations. Egypt pressured Israel to also send representatives but Jerusalem refused to do so.

The campaign against Hamas in Gaza is part of a six-front war with the Iranian axis of evil: Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. In recent weeks, the situation on the front with Hezbollah in Lebanon has escalated, and the IDF appears to be preparing for a major operation, possibly within weeks, unless international efforts to mediate are successful.

Let us pray that the Lord will intervene to glorify His name:

I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.” (Ezechiel 36:23)

Israel ramps up strikes on Rafah as US warns major offensive would be ‘disaster’
Egypt reiterates concerns Israeli campaign in Gaza’s southernmost city could cause mass Palestinian effort to flee Strip; officer says Hamas forces in Khan Younis largely destroyed.
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Blinken, Netanyahu hold ‘in-depth meeting’ amid ceasefire push
Blinken on Tuesday said the Biden administration was reviewing Hamas’s response and stressed it was “essential” to go ahead with negotiations. “There’s still a lot of work to be done. But we continue to believe that an agreement is possible and indeed essential, and we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it,” he said.
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The Parallel with Abraham | The Book of RUTH with Johannes Gerloff #29
 Again and again, the scroll of Ruth alludes to the story of Abraham. Now it is Boaz who observes that the young woman is returning to the path on which her forefather Lot strayed.


SCRIPTURE FOR THE WEEK: Ezekiel 36:22-32
“Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.
24 “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famineupon you. 30 I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. 32 I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel!