As I write this, 63 hours have passed since the “military” wing of Hamas succeeded in kidnapping Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit. Here are some of the factors:
1. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has declared a total closure on all of Gaza; no one going in, no one going out.
2. Pressure through diplomatic channels has not seemed to bear fruit. The United States, France, Egypt, and the Vatican have been most active in trying to bring Gilad’s release.
3. Israel has been amassing armed forces at the Gaza border, both in preparation for a large scale military response, and in bringing pressure on the Palestinians to act.
4. In the meantime, there are indications that 18-year-old Elijah Asheri, from the Itamar settlement near Shechem, may have been kidnapped as well. The Popular Resistance Committee has already claimed responsibility for that kidnapping.
5. The kidnappers are demanding the release of several hundred Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel. Israel categorically refuses even to consider bargaining with terrorist demands.
6. The terrorists said they plan to keep the soldier without harming him. (He is likely being held in an underground “slick.”)
7. One of the problems of the present kidnapping is that it was done by a wing of Hamas, which is the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority. In that sense it becomes an official act of the government under PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. It cannot be excused as an act of an uncontrolled fringe group. The PA must take responsibility. It is not just an individual terrorist act, but a clash between the Palestinian government and the Israeli government. Israel is holding both Haniyeh and Abu Mazen responsible.
8. Abu Mazen called for Shalit’s release. He has reportedly sent some of his Fatah forces to search for him. Haniyeh seems also to realize that he is in an untenable position and is also sending some forces to search for Shalit. A third group, a military envoy from Egypt is also searching. None of the three seem to have made any progress.
9. How is it that Haniyeh, as head of Hamas in Gaza, can’t find the hostage? The “military” wing of Hamas has cut off communication with Haniyeh, so as to avoid pressure to release Shalit. Apparently that “military” or terrorist wing is receiving its instructions from Khaled Mashal – Hamas leader in Damascus. Thus there is somewhat of a power struggle going on within Hamas.
10. Ironically, this has caused some more cooperation between Haniyeh and Abu Mazen. Today Hamas and Fatah signed a policy agreement toward Israel called the Prisoners’ Document (originally penned by Tanzim leader Marwan Barguti, held in Israel prison on multiple life sentences).
11. In the streets of Gaza there is a certain joy at the success of their forces in killing two Israeli soldiers and kidnapping another.
12. There is also a growing and intense fear at the impending Israeli offensive into Gaza.
13. Mothers of Gazan prisoners held in jail in Israel are demonstrating to demand the release of their children in the wake of the kidnapping. (The majority of those prisoners assisted in terrorist attacks in the past in which Israeli citizens were killed.)
14. Some opposition members within the Israeli government have criticized that the military response should have already started. It is probable that the military invasion will take place very shortly; ironically, that same military action will likely result in the kidnappers immediately murdering Shalit.
15. Strangely, Israeli Arab Knesset member B’shara, declared that the kidnapping was justified. In contrast, Azam Azam, an Israeli Arab released from an Egyptian prison through diplomatic pressure from Israel, came to visit the Shalit family to encourage them to trust the Israeli government to do everything needed to bring about Gilad’s release.
Please agree with us in prayer:
For Olmert to be strong, balanced, and self controlled, reaching out with “both hands” – diplomatic pressure and military action, at the right timing.
For the “Jericho syndrome” in which the Israelite forces under Joshua surrounded the walls (closure) for 7 days, without shooting and without shouting. Then the wall came down (Hamas and Jihad teri have the leftrorist powers).
For God’s thoughts to be given to the military and political leaders to make the right decisions.
For intervention of angels to bring about God’s will and salvation in this situation.
For a certain Israeli soldier involved in anti-Hamas intelligence.
For God to turn this bad situation into a good result for His kingdom.
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.