“He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:4)
The Gaza Strip is a tiny slip of land approximately 25 miles long and about four to seven miles wide on the Mediterranean coast of Israel.
Though it has been governed by the terror group Hamas for the last decade, a recent agreement brokered by Egypt sets December 1, 2017 as the date when Hamas turns over the keys of its governing authority in Gaza to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Fatah Party in the “West Bank.”
While many Gazans are hoping for better living conditions under Abbas, it is feared that the Hamas terrorists on the street who build the terror tunnels inside homes and mosques, plot kidnappings, smuggle arms, and build launch pads among UN facilities and schools may be more empowered to reach their goal, which has always been the annihilation of Israel.
As a result of the agreement, sanctions imposed by the PA will be lifted, which means the people of Gaza may once again have improved access to the basic needs of life, such as healthcare, cleaner water, trash pickup, and more than four hours of electricity per day.
And with no designated terror group in power, the people may be eligible for more international aid.
As well, border crossings will be eased into Egypt, Israel, and even internationally. And over 150,000 government workers (which is a very loose term in a Terror state) just might get paid.
In general, the bills for running a would-be nation are exptected to be paid and freedom of movement eased.
“There’s so much happiness here,” a Gaza City resident said. “We hope that we will receive sufficient electricity and clean water and that we will be able to travel abroad.” (JPost)
Some see the PA takeover as a baby step toward a stable Palestinian State and a two-state solution with Israel. But others believe that the more pleasant living and working conditions above ground will likely allow the underground terror movement to prosper as well.
And that will continue to be a deal-breaker for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has insisted that any two-state solution requires the disarmarment of all terror factions.
Whether or not a two-state solution is possible in the foreseeable future, we can learn much from these past ten years of Hamas rule in Gaza; namely, that appeasement of terrorists and political naiveté do now make for stable governments or happy citizens.
Let’s take a look at why this is so. More importantly, let’s also look at what the Bible foresees for this land and its people.
Israel Leaves Gaza
Although Gaza had been controlled by Israel for 38 years, on August 15, 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza in what was called the Disengagement Plan. Continued violence against Israeli citizens and property helped Israel agree to leave in the hope that peace would result.
Furthermore, because of its beachfront property, Gaza had the chance to take the resources that Israel left behind and begin to build a Mediterranean paradise of its very own, which could draw billions of dollars through international tourism and produce millions more from vegetable and flower exports.
But the fulfillment of that opportunity has not materialized thus far.
In August 2005, the Israeli government removed all military from the Gaza Strip and forced the removal of close to 10,000 Jewish residents from an area called Gush Katif.
The Israelis left behind a virtual Gan Eden (Garden of Eden) of farms and businesses, all built on what had been sand dunes.
Gush Katif housed 21 settlements in the southern Gaza Strip. Its residents had produced 200 farms that together exported an average $200 million in produce each year, which represented 15 percent of the agricultural exports of the State of Israel.
The total assets of Gush Katif were valued at $23 billion. This small Jewish community accounted for 95 percent of Israel’s export to Europe of bug-free lettuce and greens; 70 percent of organic vegetables; 60 percent of cherry tomatoes; and 60 percent of geraniums.
Although the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) destroyed the homes of Jewish settlers when they left the area, synagogues, public buildings, factories and office buildings were left intact.
A Heart Problem Remains in the Land
“‘Let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these are what I hate,’ declares the LORD.” (Zechariah 8:17)
The businesses and especially the highly productive network of greenhouses were purchased by a foundation set up by the European Union (EU) and heavily funded by former head of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, who left his post there in 2005 to become the Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement.
The Israeli developments were to be given to the Palestinian Authority so as to preserve the jobs of the Palestinians that had been working there.
Nevertheless, destruction followed.
After the evacuation of Gaza, the synagogues were immediately destroyed by Palestinian mobs, and the greenhouses were heavily looted, although some were left intact.
Abu Abir, a member of the Popular Resistance Committee, a terrorist organization, is reported to have said, “The looting and burning of the synagogues was a great joy … It was in an unplanned expression of happiness that these synagogues were destroyed.” (YNet)
Desecration of Jewish holy sites by Arabs is nothing new.
Between 1948 and 1967, when the Jordanians occupied East Jerusalem, they used gravestones from Jewish cemeteries as building blocks for roads and latrines.
In 2006, Hamas, a terrorist group on the rise that used suicide attacks to bring itself publicity and esteem by the people, did well in the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections.
This election resulted in tension between Hamas and the leading Palestinian political party and rival militant group Fatah, which is the largest faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
Hamas also opposed the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the confederated multi-party PLO.
Its rise to power in Gaza triggered economic sanctions from Israel and the Quartet on the Middle East (the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia).
Although Hamas and Fatah formed a government together in 2007, Hamas seized unilateral control of the Gaza Strip.
“Hamas engaged in a coup d’état, murdering many members of the PA, seizing control of all of Gaza, and turning it into a militant theocracy. It used the material left behind by the Israelis not to feed its citizens but to build rockets with which to attack Israeli civilians. It was only after these rocket attacks that Israel began a siege of Gaza designed to prevent the importation of rockets and material used to build terrorist kidnap tunnels,” Harvard professor and renowned lawyer Alan Dershowitz said in The Jerusalem Post.
Instead of maximizing the benefit of Gush Katif and using its lands and businesses to pour millions of dollars into Gaza’s economy, this area had been transformed into a military base to attack Israel.
As early as 2007, YNet News reported, “The ruins of two large synagogues in Gush Katif, the evacuated Jewish communities of the Gaza Strip, have been transformed into a military base used by Palestinian groups to fire rockets at Israeli cities and train for attacks against the Jewish state, according to a senior terror leader in Gaza.”
At that time, Abir was reported as saying, “We are proud to turn these lands, especially these parts that were for a long time the symbol of occupation and injustice, like the synagogue, into a military base and source of fire against the Zionists and the Zionist entity.” (YNet)
This destruction underscores the mindset of those who control the Gaza Strip.
Rather than have Palestinians benefit from humanitarian aid given by the international community to improve conditions in Gaza, the terrorist organizations that run Gaza have one goal and one goal only, and that is the destruction of the State of Israel.
Indeed, the chilling preamble to the Hamas charter codifies its commitment to the destruction of Israel: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”
Will the Political Merger End Hamas Violence?
Many today are questioning the merger of Hamas into the Fatah government as a means of resolving the problem of Palestinian violence and bringing about a two-state solution.
The many wars, kidnappings, and terror tunnels seem to indicate that peace is not possible when one party is only working for the other’s complete destruction.
“Even if Israel were to make peace with the Palestinian Authority, the rocket attacks from Gaza would not stop,” Alan Dershowitz wrote. (JPost)
Dershowitz also shatters the myth that both sides are equally to blame for the carnage of past conflicts by pointing out that Hamas’s targeting of civilians is a war crime under international law as is “firing these rockets from hospitals, schools and houses in densely populated areas, in order to cause Israel to kill Palestinian civilians.”
Describing it as a “dead baby” strategy, Dershowitz argued, “It deliberately puts Israel to the tragic choice of attacking the rockets and killing some children who are used as human shields, or refraining from attacking the rockets and thereby placing its own children at risk.” (JPost)
Writing in the Washington Post about the present conflict and its roots in the disengagement of 2005, Charles Krauthammer asks, “And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them—an independent territory?
“First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.”
Krauthammer also describes how the Gazans took the resources they had been given—the materials to build an infrastructure and the money sent to them by the European states—to build tunnels and weapons.
“They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians,” writes Krauthammer.
Although Gaza has plenty of unpopulated land to launch rockets from and to build on, it has continuously chosen populated areas.
He concludes that Hamas does not expect to harm Israel with its rockets but only to draw Israeli fire to kill its own people, mostly children, so as to garner world sympathy.
Will that strategy end with the PA governing Gaza, instead of Hamas? Bible prophecy seems to indicate the answer is, no.
In fulfillment of the end-time prophecy found in Psalm 83, it is the will of many extremist Palestinians to take back what God has given Israel and add it to this one Islamic caliphate.
“With cunning they conspire against Your people; they plot against those You cherish. ‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.’ For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You: The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot.” (Psalm 83:4–8)
Gaza and the Coming Apocalypse
In the days of Noah, the earth was destroyed because of violence on the earth:
“Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence [hamas]. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.’” (Genesis 6:11–13)
As in the days of Noah, in these last days, violence is increasingly covering the earth.
Curiously, the Bible links Gaza, which is historically the land that once belonged to the Philistines, to the coming Apocalypse:
“Gaza will be abandoned and Ashkelon left in ruins. At midday Ashdod will be emptied and Ekron uprooted. Woe to you who live by the sea, you Kerethite people; the word of the Lord is against you, Canaan, land of the Philistines. He says, ‘I will destroy you, and none will be left.’” (Zephaniah 2:4–5)
This prophecy goes on to say that this land will belong to the remnant of Judah.
“The land by the sea will become pastures having wells for shepherds and pens for flocks. That land will belong to the remnant of the people of Judah; there they will find pasture. In the evening they will lie down in the houses of Ashkelon. The Lord their God will care for them; He will restore their fortunes. (Zephaniah 2:6–7; see also Joshua 15 for Judah’s allotted boundaries)
This prophecy has been fulfilled in part. Ashkelon is already a part of Israel proper and as such is benefiting from God’s blessings.
God has intervened and has returned at least a portion of those that He had scattered.
Hundreds of French Jews arriving in Israel have settled in Ashdod and Ashkelon on the southern coast of the country just as Zephaniah prophesied over 2,600 years ago.
According to the Bible’s clock, the battle at Armageddon will occur after the reestablishment of Israel when God’s anger is stirred due to the nations gathering against Israel (2 Chronicles 20:1–30) and the division of God’s Holy Land.
“In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to My inheritance, My people Israel, because they scattered My people among the nations and divided up My land.” (Joel 3:1–2)
The severing of Gaza from Israel, which God has designated as belonging to Judah, and the continual violence against Israel emanating from Gaza has the Lord’s attention, as does the proliferation of violence around the world toward the Jewish People.
As each day passes, the return of Yeshua (Jesus) draws ever closer. There are still so many that need to come to faith in Him.
The Bible says that faith comes by hearing, so please let your voice be heard by standing up for Israel and by helping us bring the Good News to the Jewish People as well as the Arab people around the world through the development of the Messianic Prophecy Bible.