Jerusalem—During the “Arab Spring” that seized nations throughout the Middle East, conditions were relatively quiet for Israel. But analysts knew that wouldn’t last: It was only a matter of time before the radical Islamists would turn their wrath on the Jewish state.
Now, it has happened. Back in 2010, before the Arab Spring swept through the Middle East, Hamas fired 231 rockets into the Jewish nation from its home base in the Gaza Strip. Last year, that number nearly tripled to 627. This year, before Israel launched “Operation Pillar of Defense” on November 14, Hamas had fired about 800 rockets into Israel. And during the week-long Israeli offensive, Hamas countered by launching another 900 missiles into Israel.
Smoke in Sudan
To understand the latest escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza, we need to go back to the night of October 23 in the city of Khartoum, Sudan. In the middle of that night, four military jets flying in from the east attacked the Yarmouk weapons factory in the Sudanese capital. The Sudanese government said the high-tech operation—which jammed Sudan’s radar and virtually destroyed the factory—could only have been completed by Israel.
After the attack, hundreds of protesters in Khartoum took to the streets, shouting and waving signs with anti-Israel slogans. In Gaza, the day after the weapons factory exploded, Hamas militants fired 79 rockets at Israel. The day before that, Hamas had launched only three rockets into Israel.
So why would Gaza respond to the bombing of a weapons factory in Sudan by escalating its own rocket campaign against Israel?
Because that Sudanese factory was supplying Gaza with weapons that significantly upgraded Hamas’s arsenals. And guess who owned and operated that factory in Sudan? A Stratfor analysis says: “There were indications that Iran had been using this facility to stockpile and possibly assemble weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, guided anti-tank missiles and long-range Fajr-5 rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from Gaza” (Nov. 16, 2012; emphasis added throughout).
If you remember, five days after the Khartoum factory blew up, two Iranian Navy vessels docked at a port in Sudan for a three-day visit. The official line was that Iran paid Sudan a visit to “convey a message of peace and friendship.” But this was much more than a friendly visit, as noted in the Wall Street Journal: “Israel views Sudan, a longtime ally of Iran, as a conduit for arms through Egypt to the militant group Hamas in Gaza Strip, according to several international and regional analysts. Iran, meanwhile, remains a major supplier of weapons to Sudan, according to Small Arms Survey, a Swiss-based publication” (Oct. 30, 2012).
Now fast forward to November 14, when Israel launched Pillar of Defense. It began with the assassination of Hamas’s top military chief, Ahmed Jaabari. On November 17, the New York Times wrote, “When Israel assassinated the top Hamas military commander in Gaza on Wednesday, setting off the current round of fierce fighting, it was aiming not just at a Palestinian leader but at a supply line of rockets from Iran that have for the first time given Hamas the ability to strike as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”
Not surprisingly, the Times blamed Israel for “setting off” the latest round of fighting. But leaving aside the anti-Israel bias, the story is dead right about the regional powerhouse that supplies the terrorist camp in Gaza: the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The supply line worked like this: Fajr-5 rockets were shipped from Iran to the Sudan factory, trucked across the desert through Egypt, disassembled into parts that could be squeezed through the Sinai tunnels, and then reassembled by Hamas operatives in Gaza. Before Israel began Pillar of Defense, Hamas was believed to have had about 100 of these Fajr-5 missiles.
The sophisticated weaponry gave Hamas capabilities that, as far as Israel is concerned, crossed a red line. The attacks aimed at Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv area were never possible for Hamas before because its own rockets couldn’t reach that far. But as the Times piece revealed, Iran has significantly enhanced the firepower of its proxy in Gaza.
“The smuggling route involves salaried employees from Hamas along the way, Iranian technical experts traveling on forged passports and government approval in Sudan, Israeli officials said” (ibid).
It’s a sophisticated operation, which is why Israel had been working for weeks to break it up.
Evidence has also emerged proving that Hamas commanders have gone to Syria and Iran to be trained by the Revolutionary Guards. Hamas is building an army, upgrading its weapons capabilities and receiving training from Iran—all because it wants to wipe Israel off the map.
That is the necessary context to the latest escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas.
Cairo and Tripoli
Iran is the head of the Middle East’s anti-Israel movement, and is working arduously behind the scenes to bring the Jewish nation down. But Iran has rallied other key players to its cause—namely Egypt and Libya—and is working to morph these nations into bastions of radical Islamism. The conflict between Israel and Gaza shows the success Iran has had toward this end.
Back in October, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi gave Hamas a hearty endorsement, saying, “The Palestinian people will not be abandoned. We stand with them against any aggression.” Then, on November 14, Morsi recalled Egypt’s ambassador to Israel to protest the Jewish state’s military operations. A statement by Morsi’s spokesman explained the move: “President Morsi has followed the Israeli brutal assault in which a number of martyrs and sons of the Palestinian people were killed. On this basis he has recalled the Egyptian ambassador from Israel; has ordered the Egyptian representative at the United Nations to call for an emergency meeting at the Security Council … and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Egypt in protest over the assault.”
Added to this, Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party—the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood—threatened to get involved in the conflict. According to a statement released by the Brotherhood on November 14, Egypt “will not allow the Palestinians to be subjected to Israeli aggression, as in the past.”
Then there is Libya. Tripoli’s rapidly shifting political landscape has taken on great significance for militants in Gaza because the collapse of Muammar Qadhafi’s government created other supply options for Hamas. Shortly after Qadhafi’s ouster, many Libyan military storehouses were raided and the equipment was sold off. Most of these munitions were driven across Egypt and brought into Gaza.
It is amazing how many doors the Arab Spring has opened for Iran and its proxies.
The Israelis well know what is going on in Sudan, Libya, Egypt and Gaza. And since they have little support from the international community, they have struck hard at these supply lines that lead to Gaza. Hamas has struck back, clearly revealing Iran’s heavy involvement in strengthening its proxy.
Iran’s footprints—and those of radicalizing Egypt and Libya—are all over this conflict.
Who Will Mediate?
Bible prophecy says the rapid spread of radical Islam will continue until it finally collides with a superior enemy: a German-led European Union. Daniel 11:40 shows that a German-led “king of the north” will soon enter into the glorious land—or Jerusalem. The Hebrew word for “enter” in this passage indicates a peaceful entry.
On November 19, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian president in an effort to calm the recent violence. After meeting with Netanyahu, Westerwelle said brokering a ceasefire is a top priority for Berlin.
Netanyahu’s response reveals Israel’s eagerness to invite Germany into a key role in the negotiations: “Israel can’t long tolerate this kind of situation where our cities are under constant rocket attacks. I prefer diplomatic solutions, I hope that we can get one, but if not we have every right to defend ourselves with other means and we shall use them. I believe that Germany can have a constructive role in seeking an end to this conflict and a long-term arrangement, such that these terror weapons are not introduced into the Gaza Strip.”
As more Israelis acknowledge that the U.S.’s broken-willed leaders are too fatigued by America’s military involvement in other conflicts, and as pressure on Israel intensifies, the Jews will turn to Germany for defense assistance. Netanyahu’s statement is one of several signs in recent months that Israel is already looking keenly in Berlin’s direction. It is only a matter of time before Israel invites the German-led EU into the Holy Land.
This decision will not end well for Israel. The prophecy in Daniel shows that Germany will commit a violent double cross against Israel, and establish its headquarters in Jerusalem.
This is a sobering reality. But it is intricately tied to the most hope-filled event this war-torn planet has ever experienced: the return of Jesus Christ to usher in an age of peace for Israelis, Palestinians, Iranians, Germans, Egyptians, Libyans and all other men! ▪