Today finishes 20 days of the war in Lebanon. Israel has agreed to suspend air attacks for 48 hours and to allow safe passage in and out of southern Lebanon for humanitarian purposes. All the Hizballah air strikes also stopped immediately. By the time you get this update, the situation may have changed already.
The “Step” – The plateau in southern Lebanon along the border, called the “Step” in Israeli military jargon, is about 70 kilometers wide and 6 kilometers deep. It is the first vital strategic area from which Israel must expel the Hizballah forces. With the suspension of air attacks, Israel has increased the ground forces in this area and is proceeding quickly to gain control. This will move Hizballah out of the short-range missile deployment.
Greater Love – PM Olmert made mention in his speech last night of platoon commander Roi Klein. During the battle at Bint J’bail, a grenade from a Hizballah launcher landed in the midst of his platoon, endangering the lives of all his men. Roi, father of two young children, leaped upon the grenade, smothering the blast with his body, saving all his men. As they watched his last moments of life, Roi chanted Deuteronomy 6, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One”; then called on the wireless to report his own death and transfer command of the unit.
Jewish Fast Day – Tomorrow, Wednesday night to Thursday night, marks the traditional Jewish Fast day of Tisha B’Av. I am planning to go up toward the Lebanon border with a couple of disciples to pray and fast. I would like to encourage as many as possible of our friends in churches and Messianic synagogues join in on this fast to bring about God’s will.
Here is a letter I wrote to a group of suffering Christians in southern Lebanon. (If you would like to send some support through us to suffering Arab Christians, including Palestinians, let us know and we will add it to what we already give.)
Dear friends (names withheld for their safety),
We have heard and seen your suffering. We are grieved to the depths of our hearts for you. No words could describe what you are going through. We can only imagine your difficulties. In the midst of all your suffering, it might also be confusing as to what to think about us here in Israel. Therefore I thought it might be helpful to describe the situation for you from our side.
We want you to know that the Israeli people have no hatred of Lebanon. In fact, all our leaders have expressed sincere grief for innocent civilians who have been hurt by this war. Sometimes we wonder why the reaction in the Arab world seems so opposite – that there is rejoicing anytime we Jews suffer.
We have no desire for war with Lebanon, and everyone is looking forward to a true peace. That is why we pulled out all our soldiers and all our weapons unilaterally from any Lebanese territory six years ago. That is why we also consider the attack from Hizballah totally unprovoked, and particularly dangerous since it crossed the international border between us.
During these six years we have warned the international community about the build up of arms by Hizballah, which comes from Iran, through Syria. In fact, it was the commitment of UN resolution 1559 and the UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon) to DISARM Hizballah. Instead they became a cover-up for the escalation in armament by this terrorist group. That is why we find it extremely hypocritical for the U. N. to condemn Israel, since this whole war would not have happened had they not totally betrayed the mandate they were given.
We know the instructions given to Israeli soldiers and pilots to do everything possible to spare innocent victims and to aim only at strategic targets. The opposite is true of Hizballah. First of all they are purposely targeting civilian population centers. Secondly, their policy in southern Lebanon is to place their missile launchers right in the midst of civilian areas, in order to use innocent people on purpose as human shields.
It is worth mentioning here that hurting innocent civilians when firing at a military target is not considered a war crime according to international law, whereas firing artillery from a civilian populated area is indeed a war crime. The Israeli Army has shown films of Hizballah missile launchers firing again and again into Israel and then pulling the launcher immediately inside a neighboring house.
Many have accused Israel of using unnecessary force. In the 20 days of the conflict, Hizballah has fired two thousand (2,000!) missiles aimed directly at the cities in northern Israel. It is only by the grace of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that so few of our people have been killed. If any other country had been attacked unprovoked, across an international border and with missiles fired at major cities, the response would have been 100 times worse. Almost all of Israeli casualties have been because our soldiers have restrained their use of force in order to reduce civilian causalities.
Lastly, in terms of proportionate response, Israel is surrounded by 100 million fanatic Muslims who desire to murder us. This is the direct and openly stated purpose of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Iranian regime, El Qaida, as well as Hizballah. In every war, we have won (again by the grace of God); and immediately there is an international call for a cease-fire. Should the radical Islamic groups ever win even ONE time, it would mean total annihilation for all our people.
During this six-year period since Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, over thirteen thousand (13,000!) missiles have been moved into the hands of Hizballah from Iran. For what purpose? We were not in Lebanon. This was NOT a territory dispute. The only dispute is our right to EXIST.
Perhaps you did not know that there are true born-again Jewish believers in Jesus (Yeshua) in Israel. We are your spiritual brothers. We will pray for you and do everything we can to support you. You are heroes in our eyes. You are the hope and the destiny of Lebanon.
May God give you the strength to share the Good News of Yeshua’s salvation to your people. Certainly you face many obstacles in that task, even as we do here. Yet that is the true hope for your people as well as ours.
In addition we pray for you, along with all the people of Israel, that the forces of terror and jihad will be driven out of your lovely country, that a strong and righteous government will arise, and that there will be true peace between our two countries. No one in Israel desires anything else. We have a beautiful heritage of cooperation and mutual respect between our two nations that goes all the way back to biblical times.
We are eager and open to hearing from you, building communication and relationship with you, and understanding what you are going through.
Our love and prayers in Messiah Yeshua,
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.