Weekly Update – Iran’s war against Israel: where to from here?

18 January 2024

Israel is defending itself in a multi-front war launched by Iran and its proxies in the region. These include Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic jihad groups in the West Bank, Iranian forces in Syria and Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

And this war is also taking place in international relations – an information and legal war that is just as dangerous a threat to Israel’s existence as the kinetic war on the ground.

The war in the Gaza Strip is now over 100 days old. Israel has largely taken control of the northern part of Gaza, though fighting continues. Millions of Palestinians have evacuated to the south where humanitarian conditions are dire. The Hamas leadership in Gaza are hiding in the extensive tunnel system. Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to hold over 136 hostages; 18 of them are over the age of 60 and 2 of them are toddlers. The IDF death toll has reached 193.

Times of Israel reports that the war has entered a difficult phase, and that Israeli leadership lacks a coherent long-term vision or strategy: “Fighting with determination, resilience and what has become termed “high intensity,” with the Air Force targeting Hamas infrastructure ahead of the ground forces, the IDF has attained widespread though not absolute control in northern Gaza, and moved on to tackle Hamas battalions in the center of the Strip. The tactics caused devastation in northern Gaza, where Hamas had booby-trapped “every other house,” in the words of IDF officials. Despite the IDF’s efforts and its repeated pleas to noncombatants to leave, the bombardment led to high numbers of civilian casualties from within whose ranks Hamas gunmen fight in civilian clothes. Less reliance on the IAF would have meant far more dead IDF soldiers.”

At the same time, Iran and the Palestinians have launched a legal war against Israel in the UN and other international institutions. Their goal is to weaken Israel and force it to give up control of territory that is essential to its security. Last week were the oral hearings in the case South Africa has launched against Israel before the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ). South Africa claims that Israel is committing “genocide” against the Palestinian people.

South Africa has maintained close contact with Hamas prior to and since 7th October, and evidence is appearing that this case at the ICJ has been financed by Iran. In other words, it is likely that the legal proceedings are part of Iran’s strategy of using Hamas to annihilate the Jewish State of Israel.

South Africa has a long history of collaboration with Iran and Qatar, and supporting Palestinian terrorism.

South Africa argues that there is prima facie evidence that Israel has the intention not only to defeat Hamas but to destroy the Palestinians as a people. It has asked the ICJ to indicate “provisional measures”, including a full ceasefire in Gaza, in order to protect the Palestinian people.

The Israeli legal team presented strong arguments last Friday 12th January that despite some extreme statements made by Israeli leaders after the horrific 7th October attack, Israel has the sole intention of destroying Hamas, not the Palestinians as such. They argue that this is a legitimate military objective, and that Israel is doing all within its power to comply with the rules of international humanitarian law to minimize civilian casualties, but that this is extremely difficult in an urban warfare situation where the enemy operates from tunnels, terrorists are embedded within civilians, and Hamas deliberately uses Palestinian civilians as human shields. The Court is expected to make a decision within the next two weeks.

In further developments, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that Israel cannot achieve “genuine security” without a pathway to a Palestinian state, insisting such a move could help unify the Middle East and isolate Israel’s top rival: Iran. Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Blinken said the view of leaders in the Arab and Muslim world have changed on Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state would help Israel integrate into the region. “The problem is getting from here to there, and of course, it requires very difficult, challenging decisions. It requires a mindset that is open to that perspective,” Blinken said.

The likelihood that Israel will be drawn into a war in Lebanon is growing, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said this week, hours after Hamas terrorists fired a barrage of rockets at a northern Israel town.

Tensions in the Red Sea escalate, as the US and other allies have launched missile strikes against Houthi-controlled sites in Yemen. The US has strongly warned Iran to cease providing weapons to the Houthi militant group, which it plans to re-designate as a terrorist organization.

Terror threats and attacks continue in Israel and the West Bank.

To summarize: this is a very complex, dangerous and highly-explosive situation. Our prayers are needed more than ever. We must pray that the leaders of Israel will develop a clear vision for peace in the region. Pray that the enemies of the Jewish people will be defeated. Pray that all will turn to the Lord God who created the earth, who judges the nations. Pray for the coming of the Messiah who alone can bring peace on earth. 

The Editorial Team – Israel & Christians Today

Irresponsibility compounds catastrophe: Why the IDF’s war against Hamas has lost momentum
David Horowitz at Times of Israel: Dismantling Hamas in southern Gaza was always going to be tougher than in the north. But the challenge is being exacerbated by insistent ambivalence from the political leadership.
> Read more..

IDF strikes Hezbollah targets after rocket fire on Galilee
JNS reports: Two rockets caused material damage in the Eastern Galilee town of Metula.
> Read more..

Is Iran behind South Africa’s genocide case against Israel?
Dr Frans Cronje, Former CEO of the South  African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) argues that South Africa’s case at the ICJ against Israel under the Genocide Convention is part of an Iranian strategy designed to defeat Israel by (a) cutting off military aid to Israel and (b) traumatizing young Jews around the world.
> Read more..

Over 2,600 terror attacks in Judea and Samaria since Oct. 7
Akiva van Koningsveld at JNS: “Palestinian terrorists in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley have killed five civilians and wounded many others since Oct. 7.”
> Read more..

An Offer | The Book of RUTH with Johannes Gerloff #26
Boaz offers the young woman a way out of her predicament. However, there is a condition attached to it.



For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.