Category Archives: Prayer

ON THE EVE OF THE BIG ELECTION

BLOG 462
March 2, 2020

archaeological

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

ON THE EVE OF THE BIG ELECTION

Just around the corner is the third election for the next Prime Minister of Israel. The rhetoric from the first two elections is still floating around Israel and most of the voters are sick of the mess. Under indictment for corruption, Netanyahu keeps saying he’s got America in his hip pocket. President Trump threw in the recent peace plan to support Netanyahu’s claims. Interestingly enough, this maneuver has to some extent been discrediting to Trump. The American President is now seen in large segments of the Israeli population as a manipulator whose trust is questionable.

Consequently, the sparks keep flying. Who will win? I see my task as only to attempt to present an objective view of what is happening in the Middle East. In other words, I’m not into gambling so I’ll pass on calling how the election will turn out.

For a breath of fresh air, this week let me take you in a different direction. For you who are interested in archaeological excavations, you will find a recent dig near the town of Neve Daniel to be fascinating. Archaeologists David Amit and Yuval Peleg turned up mikveh baths that date back to the Second Temple period. A mikveh was a ritual bath for purification during Passover, Shvuot, and Sukkot times in Jerusalem as well as many other times. The two baths found by Amit and Peleg are located at the place where pilgrims catch their first glimpse of the Holy City.

Out in the middle of nowhere, these two baths are located close to the main road leading into Jerusalem. Chiseled out of solid rock, the two sets of stairs lead downward and through entrances cut out of the same rock. In the middle remain two pool areas. During the coming month of March, the Jewish festival of Purim would have been another one of the times when people might come for purification.

Many in the Christian world believe that baptism grew out of the custom of mikveh baths because both are cleansing baths and personal purification. Since 1968 during the many years I have been involved in Israel, I watched these discoveries reveal the ancient face of this country that extends back for thousands of years.

Hey, maybe this week would be a good time for all the politicians in Israel to take a nice cleansing mikveh bath. They all need one.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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THE HOLY SPIRIT IN IRAN?

BLOG 458
February 3, 2020

Master+Film+Poster+Alt+Layout

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IN IRAN?

Some years ago, I was in Damascus, Syria eating breakfast in a hotel when a couple from Iran came over and abruptly sat down across from me. In whispered tones, they told me that they wanted to escape from Iran and wanted to know if I could help them. I ask why they were wanting to flee. The couple said the leadership of our country is crazy. Interesting?

Recently, I found a report that gives insight on both political and religious happenings in a country where Islam is enforced at the point of a gun. The Western World is keenly aware of the fanaticism inside this country that is the largest supporter of terrorism in the world. Look at what I discovered.

A two-hour documentary called Sheep Among Wolves, seemed to support their conclusion and reported, “The fastest-growing church in the world has taken root in one of the most unexpected and radicalized nations on earth. A revival is taking place inside Iran. The report said, “The Iranian awakening is a rapidly reproducing discipleship movement that owns no property or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominantly led by women.” The documentary was produced by Frontier Alliance International (FAI), which supports disciple-making teams targeting the “unreached” and “unengaged.” There is a mass exodus leaving Islam for Christianity within Iran, according to FAI.

“What if I told you Islam is dead?” one unidentified Iranian church leader says on the film. “What if I told you the mosques are empty inside Iran? What if I told you no one follows Islam inside of Iran? Would you believe me? This is exactly what is happening inside of Iran. God is moving powerfully inside of Iran.” Many of the ruling class still follow Islam, “because that’s where the high paying jobs are,” according to the film, but the majority of the ordinary people love God and recognize that Islam is the problem.

“What if I told you the best evangelist for Jesus was the Ayatollah Khomeini?” an Iranian church leader asks. He maintains the ayatollahs brought the true face of Islam to light and people discovered it was a lie, a deception. “After 40 years under Islamic law — a utopia according to them — they’ve had the worst devastation in the 5,000 year history of Iran.”

Efforts by the ayatollahs to destroy Christianity have backfired, but have served to refine and purify the church. “What persecution did was destroy the church that were not disciples, and destroy the church that were about converts,” the Iranian church leader noted. “All these church planters found out that converts run away from persecution, but disciples would die for the Lord in persecution. “So our model inside Iran is that we don’t convert to disciple, we disciple so we can convert.” Often a disciple making movement (DMM) begins the first moment someone comes into contact with an unbeliever. “Everything is foundational on prayer. We find people of peace through prayer. We even find locations through prayer,” the Iranian church leader noted.

“When we do DMM, Jesus has gone faster than us. He has come in their dreams or he’s come miraculously in their lives. When we hear this, we know that Jesus has gone ahead of us.” Surprisingly, their emphasis is not planting churches; it is making disciples. “He is letting unbelievers lead other unbelievers to himself and the kingdom of God. If you plant churches you might make disciples. But if you make disciples, you will plant churches,” the Iranian church leader said.

“One thing powerful with DMM is that it is obedience-based discipleship. It is based on the authority of Scripture and every time you read the Scripture you must obey it. This is how people become conformed to the image of Christ and sanctified. They are not just reading the Bible for information. They are reading the Bible to get transformed.”

About 55% of the disciple makers are women, according to one Iranian leader. Such a report certainly gives you something to pray about!

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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BOOKS YOU’LL LOVE: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORIES

                                                        THE ASSASSINS

 

Obviously, my novel is about the battle between good and evil.

 

Novelist have been struggling with this topic for centuries because it is one of the most basic fundamental issues effecting all of humanity. We read about the conflict because we have all been there. It’s our story, our experience. And we keep reading because we’re never sure which side is going to win.

The Assassins begins with a completely evil design. Vladimir Putin intends to have the top American leaders killed and sends out three henchmen to do them in. None of these men is particularly bright, but they all know about murder that they are quit willing to commit. Will evil triumph under these circumstances? The reader keeps turning the pages to find out.

Friedrich Nietzsche lived in the last half of the nineteenth century and was a major philosopher whose impact has not been diminished by time. He appears to have had a deep distrust of words in conveying and describing evil. Our time has seen so much mayhem and murder, I often wonder if we haven’t been moved existentially closer to Nietzsche’s point of view.  Not that we wrestle intellectually with the problem of evil, but that we have become so adjusted to assassination, revolutions, war, and the possibility of nuclear explosions that we no longer are able to find the words that convey the draconian nature of the ongoing situation with which we live.

 

Perhaps, a novel remains one of the best tools to walk us inside the terrors of human manipulation and deceit. The Assassins is of course fiction, but look at the parallels with the murder of Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned in London. Litvenenko, a FSB agent (formerly called the KGB) got crossways with Vladimir Putin and fled the country to avoid being killed. In London, he remained a harsh critic of Putin’s role in encouraging corruption. A close friend of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, he knew she was investigating his charges against Putin. The female journalist was then shot to death in Moscow. Sound a little familiar?

Can words adequately convey the force of evil in such a situation? Friedrich Nietzsche said no.  The will to power remains too strong. His solution was to create an entirely new language. I’m afraid Nietzsche got too close to the edge, but he does press us to recognize how powerful evil is in the world around us.

Personally, I find novels by Daniel Silva do an adequate job of forcing anyone to recognize the reality of evil. Hopefully, The Assassins does the same thing. While such a story is fiction, by its very nature it forces us to look into the non-fiction world with greater perspective and a more adequate grasp of the power of evil.

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An Update on Israel

 

Change is in the air.

 

A number of incidents have occurred lately that didn’t make headlines in America. They aren’t earth shaking events, but might help you keep abreast of the times are unfolding. Change occurs in the Middle East at the speed of light. Consequently, the more we know, the better we are to judge the situation and make sound judgements.

Were you aware that Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped in for a visit this summer? While the occasion was more of a state formality with a dedication of a war memorial, it is interesting that the country with a hard history of antisemitism should have the newly elected president drop by for a chat. My guess is that the stop-by represents a recognition of the importance of Israel in the world scene and a concern for an attack on Iran (one of Russia’s allies). If so, Putin got an earful. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres made it clear that in their view nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranians remained a threat to Israel and the world. Putin said nothing, but got the message. However, there’s no change with Vadim.

Russia continues to oppose more sanctions against Iran while supplying weapons to Syria (calling them defensive armaments). They have also used their veto power to shield the Assad regime.

While in Israel, Putin helped unveil a monument to the Red Army’s defeat of Nazi Germany. Such remembrances are important because of the enormous price the Soviet Union paid in World War II. Over a half million Jews fought in the Soviet Army and 120,000 were killed. The idea for the monument began with Netanyahu two years ago when he proposed the commemoration to Putin.

On a different front, the former financial adviser to Yasser Arafat Muhammad Rashid revealed that Fatah had a secret bank account in Jordan amounting to $39 million. When Arafat died, he was one of the wealthiest men in the world with a monthly allowance to his wife in Paris of $100,000 a month. Three billion dollars disappeared and has not been found to this date. Rashid stated that only Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and two of his associates could access the account. He challenged Abbas to admit this fact because he had longed denied the existence of such an account. After a long-standing battled with the PA leadership, Rashid has threatened to expose corruption and scandal involving Abbas.

Change? Well, the covers are being thrown back. Seems the Palestinian Authority continues to deal under the table just as Arafat did.

Here’s another surprise for you. East Jerusalem Arabs are increasingly applying for Israeli citizenship. Forty-six years ago, the Six Day War (Yom Kippur War) exploded and the citizenship of East Jerusalem shifted. Because King Hussein claimed the rights to the West Bank and the PLO called these Arabs Palestinians, they ended up in effect non-citizens. Today, 260,000 east Jerusalemites are still non-citizens. A high number of this group were born in Israel, speak Hebrew, and have been virtually absorbed into Israeli society. Today an increasing number are convinced no change will every occur and are applying for Israeli citizenship. The idea of a Palestinian may never be resolved. The status quo isn’t relevant to this group.

Change is moving right along.

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BOOKS YOU’LL LOVE: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORIES

THE ASSASSINS

 

“Robert, how can you get inspired to write about assassinations? Isn’t that a rather heinous subject?”

As I listened to the woman’s question, I wondered what she meant by the word inspiration. Her reply proved interesting.

“Why, I thought the word meant ‘God breathed,’ she said. “Isn’t inspiration something that the Holy Spirit brings?”

Well, yes and no. Certainly, we think of The Bible as being inspired and that definitely means the Holy Spirit was at work. I would like to think that my books are “God breathed,” but that’s more than a little presumptive. Generally, divine inspiration implies that a new or creative revelation has occured. Hey, I’m certainly not claiming such lofty status But actually, inspiration has a wider range of meaning than my friend related. We can be emotionally or intellectually inspired. A feeling may bubble up that touches us deeply.  Alex Haley’s Roots had such powerful emotionally inspiration. The last TV episode as he discovered his personal origins in Africa moved me to tears. The Imperial Presidency didn’t have such an  emotional push but it was an intellect assessment of the government.  Often, we are deeply moved by some such event and want to convince others only to find out they don’t care. Before you feel bad, remember that divine inspiration also gets the same reception in some quarters.

So, my book The Assassins doesn’t have to claim to be divinely inspired to have a quality of creative thought that some people might find to be moving. While I’d never put myself in a class with Fedyor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov definely touched on universal issues that are still studied in seminaries. I will argue Dostoevsky was definitely inspired, but not just because he wrestled with issues affecting the Roman Catholic Church. His focus was moral and concerned with the future of civilization.

My story is certainly not so lofty, but it seeks to explore the idea of what happens when a head of government is willing to commit murder to acheive the purposes of his government. Today we know such a goal is possible. My story suggests that those draconian purposes run afowl of ultimate values, including the value of human life.

When the Oklahoma City Murrah Building terrorist bombing occurred, I was the first clergyman on the scene and stood in the back of the building as the bodies were brought out. I will forever remember standing by those tarp covered remains of people killed by a man whose values were eschewed to the core. During those hours as more and more bodies were brought out, I wondered what will come next and shuttered.

And yet as the days, weeks, and years have gone by, the actions of good people have transformed those tragic deaths into monuments to eternal truth and the endurance of righteousness.  Decadence has been transformed into inspiration.

Inspiration often arises from unanticipated circumstances and humble origins. Even evil actions may unexpectedly give rise to redemptive expressions and results. We have to be ready for inspiration to come at the most unexpected moments.

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IRAN’S GAMBLE

 

The most recent report from the United Nations the International Atomic Energy Agency indicates Iran continues to hide its production of enriched uranium. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei talks out of both sides of his mouth, saying pursuit of nuclear weapons is an “unforgiveable sin” while on the other hand proclaiming Iran will not abandon their nuclear program. If you trust the Ayatollah, I’ve got some stock in the defunct Soviet Union I’ll sell you.

Experts are currently divided on what an attack on Iran would do to support for the Moslem regime. All agree the current Moslem government is unpopular and would welcome any action that would shore it up. However, a direct attack on the country would not necessarily bring support from the current opposition to the government. Probably, the rebels response would be determined by how much of the population was killed or hurt in such an attack. Undoubtedly, President Ahmadinejad would  call for national unity. In the short run, it could be a boost for the regime’s popularity.

At this time, sanctions have definitely hurt the popularity of  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s government. While the economy has definitely been effected, the business person on the street is really getting it in the neck with decreasing support for Khamenei. However, it appears to be a toss up among the experts as to how Iranian rebels would respond to an attack on their own soil.

The most pressing current issue is stopping Iran’s intervenetion in Syria. Iran is doing everything possible to hold on to the Assad control of the country. Loss of the relationship with this current government would amount to a clossal defeat and greatly weaken the Iranian hold on the Shi’ite Cresent that extends from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.  However, the United States has made it clear that they will directly confront Iran If more intervention follows. Moreover, Israel would feel directly threatened by an Iranian presence in Syria and would immediately respond aggressively. Of course, Russia would support Iran, but could do little to actually support their actions militarily.

So, where do we go next?

Most experts agree that the USA must do more. They have already made it clear that crossing a red line drawn by Secretary Hillary Clinton will bring  a military response, but it is not clear that the Iranians take this warning seriously enough to back off. The Khamenei regime still doubts American’s will to make a military effort.  Many feel the USA must facilitate the Syrian rebels supply of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons while encouraging more Syrian government officials to defect if Iran is to take them more seriously.

Iranian expert Prof. David Menashri believes the regime is in a delicate situation with considerable pressure from inside the country. Citizens are dissatisfied with the lack of social and political justice and freedom.  A more public demonstration of unity of the United States with Europe would help increase the stress on Khamenei and his comrades. Menashri asserts Israel should keep its debate behind closed doors as disagreements only lessens Iran’s fears.

Words no longer count for much. The issues will be settled by action. (530 word count)

Question: Can diplomacy still stop Iranian intervention or is time running out?

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PROBING INSIDE THE SYRIAN SITUATION

 

 

Over 200 bodies were recently discovered in Daraya, a small town just outside of Damascus. The frightening unofficial suggestion is that Syrian troops committed these atrocities that may be the worst since the beginning of the Syrian rebellion over 18 months ago. Because of the ongoing war, the exact count could not be independently confirmed.

The Local Coordination Committee, an activist organization, found mass body dumps in the same region. Their video recorded charred bodies wrapped in blankets as well as victims lined up together and shot in a mosque. The violence fits a pattern that has emerged from raids by government forces in other suburbs of Damascus. When the military raided towns held by rebels, they left behind piles of bodies. Generally, the victims were young men, most shot in the head execution style.

The stories go on and on. I have been blogging about these murders for months, but nothing seems to put the brakes on the killing. One of the burning question is why the Russians continue to sustain such violence. As we discussed in an earlier blog, they are making huge profits out of this warfare. Certainly, profit motives keep the guns blazing. But there must be more to this story.

In the August 19, 2012 edition of The New York Times, Misha Friedman reported on the current situation in Russia under the heading For Russians, Corruption is Just a Way of Life. Friedman grew up in Moldova, then a part of the Soviet Union. In the early 1990s, her family immigrated to the United States. Since then, she has made a number of trips back to Russia. On each one of these trips, she observed growing corruption and lawlessness. Today, Misha Friedman reports that the country has become immersed in immoral and depraved behavior at every level of society.

Ms. Friedman reports that President Vladimir Putin’s system of running the country is hurling Russia back into a medieval mode when lawlessness trumps all rules. She noted that Russians who travel  outside the country often hide their nationality because of a fear of being compared to the country’s ruling elite. The Pussy Riot trial or the imprisonment of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky always comes up with embarrassing questions about what is transpiring inside the country. Friedman implies Putin’s government could care less about the consequences of their decisions as long as they prevail.

Syria would certainly be a case in point.

The author’s story states that corruption has become both a state of mind as well as a way of life. Citizens have become so accustomed to this decadence that they now accept it as the norm and view it as “Russia’s own special way.”

Friedman’s story leaves us with an obvious conclusion. If the Russian’s are making a buck, they care less about who is hurt. Obviously, I’m not indicting their entire society. Thousands marched in the streets to protest Putin’s election and how he runs the country. Unfortunately, they didn’t accomplish change. Nevertheless, as long as Russia’s military factories are kept busy, no one at the top will be calculating the cost.

So, the killing goes on in Syria while the rest of the world watches from the sidelines.

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WHY CAN’T AMERICAN GET IT RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

Obviously, something has gone wrong.

We wake up in the morning and the TV tells us more Americans have been shot in the back by Afghan security policemen. The Afghans are killed  immediately, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference. Are we missing something? Absolutely.

Neither the Republicans or the Democrats understand this situation. We are in essentially the same position Great Britian was a hundred years ago. They were the top dogs and couldn’t be bothered with funny little rebels like Gandhi. Unfortunately for the Brits, the Mahatma was the new reality. Today England doesn’t rule India or the world.

Winning World War II and prevailing in the Cold War took us to the top. We assumed we could fight two wars in two different nations at the same time and easily win. Wrong. We are making the same mistake the British did.

What we don’t understand is that the entire Middle East is swept up in what is essentially a religious war. We think we’re fighting a traditional military conflict. We’re not. And the longer we misread the reality, the greater will be our losses.

The exploding reality in the world today is change.

Every 500 years, the entire global society radically shifts. Go back 500 years and you find the Renaissance and Protestant Reformation beginning. Absolutely ended the Middle Age and brought radically political revolution! The year 2,000 marked the start of a new alignment in every area from politics to religion.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Middle East. The rising force is not an enlighted Islamic faith, but a radical right-wing fundamentalism than has no problem in dying for what the mullahs decree. The West places a paramount value on preserving human life.  They don’t. Ben Laden got one thing right. If they keep us fighting in the Middle East, they will eventually drain our bank accounts down to nothing. Isn’t that where we have gone in the last ten years?

Turkey has shifted into a more religious mode. The Egyptian Brotherhood pushed Mohammed Morsy into office with their radical agenda. Who knows what will end up in Syria? No one appears to be asking what is the motivation that they all share in common. At the core, it has to do with Islam.

For example, Obama believes we can negotiate Iran into a compromise. A couple of days ago, the head mullah told the people to hunker down because Iran wasn’t backing away from muclear capacity. Between the lines, we can read the fine print. Iran’s position is neither defensive nor rationally. Iran has messianic designs on the entire Middle East with a religious motivation carrying an ingrained sense of Persian historicial entitlement.  In addition, they want to annihilate Israel regardless of the cost. Take a long at the Old Testament. It’s all there.

Because we didn’t pay attention toVietnamese thought patterns and resuppositions, we lost the war. Today, we aren’t paying attention to how fundamentalist Islam thinks. The result is that they are outflanking us. So, where do we go from here?

The time has come to cast the old molds aside and think with new clarity. Can we win a religious war with bullets and missiles? No. And Iran won’t be stopped at the negotiating table. The only country who seems to grasp this reality is Israel.

If we don’t pay attention to this situation, we’re going to be sailing down the river in the same boat with the Brits … headed for the water fall.

Question: How can we change this course of events?

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Stories Behind the Stories you Love: The Assassins.

The Assassins

 

Writers are often asked about what makes a character interesting. What’s the difference between a Scarlet O’Hara and Mary Mud who you forget in 30 seconds? Part of the answer is contrasts.

Within interesting characters are built-in contradictions that make the person memorable. Unfortunately, beginning writers tend to produce one dimensional hollow stereotypes who stay the same through the entire story. Readers may not understand why they find these characters disinteresting, but they quickly close the book and move on in search of a more genuine human that intrigues their imagination.

Scarlet O’Hara stays with us because she is beautiful and charming while being conniving and manipulative. She can rebuild Tara, her father’s estate, because there’s no price she won’t exact from those around. She builds by destroying. A contrast indeed!

In The Assassins, we begin with a FSB type operative Masha Khaykina who has done whatever was necessary to get out of the poor countryside and into the thriving city. From humble beginnings, she rises to the top of the state’s secret spy agency. But early on in her life, we discover a grandmother who cared and instilled values. In Russia, grandmothers preserve the best of the past and care on the best the church has to offer. Marsha has been infected with this goodness that keeps surfacing even in the midst of her philandering. Something higher found its way into her soul earlier in life.

One of the values that stuck with her was a concern for people faced with injustice. She is willing to stick her neck out to even the score. As the book unfolds, we will discover  this quality has a dramatic effect on how the plot turns.

In contrast, the other assassins are flat, one-dimensional types. Not very likeable, they are bestial and brutal. Contrary to many movie images, I’ve found this to be the way killers truly are. Some years ago, I worked with Lou Smit, a well known and highly successfully detective. He wanted me to help encourage a serial killer to talk by offering to write his story. The man had killed at least forty women, but we never got the story off the ground bcause his psyche proved to be empty. Almost nothing was there.

The Assassins offers other insights into Masha’s development. As she became involved with the Russian Orthodox Church, we received glimpses into her inner journey. We see her thinking new and humane thoughts. Expanding insights introduced her to a new appreiation of life and relationships. The reader observes a kinder and more humane person emerging from under a rough and permissive past.

Russia remains an enigma to many in the West. However, genuine Russians continue to intrigue us because their contrasts are often severe while reaching to a greater depth than is often displayed in America. Many of our cinema and popular celebrities exist purely for entertainment, but who wants to live next door to them? The Kardashians have an effective publicist, but they’d never make it in a serious novel. Too superficial.

So, hopefully Masha captures your attention because she offers a complex character reaching out to find a higher and better way of life.

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RE-ASSESING THE SINAI

The August 5 terrorist attack on the Egyptian military base that killed 15 soldiers has  created unexpected turmoil and reassessment of the Sinai. Covered by the peace treaty with Egypt, Israel has understood that the desert is a demilitarized zone. A United Nations peace keeping force placed 700 American soldiers in the area. However, the terrorists stole from the Egyptians an APC vehicle that was crashed into the Israeli Karem Shalom crossing. For some time, Israel had been concerned about Bedouin Islamic terrorists who had been creating difficulties in the area. The attack brought matters to a head.

The treaty returning the Sinai peninsula had been signed by Anwar Sudat and Menachem Began during the Carter administration. It was a major turning point in the quest for Middle East peace at that time.

 

Spokemen for the Karem Shalom outpost noted soldiers were now back to normal operation  but warned that the area is “no longer a border of peace.” The Sinai border and the Kibbutz Shalom are only a few dozen meters from the Gaza Strip. Around 12,500 people live in kibbutzim in the area. No fatalities were suffered by Israel. IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) reported the terrorists may have been trying to abduct a soldier as they did several years ago with Gilad Schalit’s capture to demand a ransom or the release of terrorists held in Israeli jails. The worry remains that terrorists could dig under the Gaza security fence and try again. While local residents are back to their daily routines, they are keeping their guns cocked.

Within Israel there is now a renewed discussion over who is responsible of intelligence gathering. Three primary sources collect data, including Military Intelligence, Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) and Mossad. After the peace treaty with Egypt, Military intelligence cut back on their budget. However, with the surge of new problems in Sinai, all options are being reassessed. You can bet no one is letting this situation go unnoticed.

This latest attack is being attributed to local Beduins and probably is similar to the cross-border attacks a year ago near the Netafim Crossing where eight Israelis were killed. While that situation was written off as isolated, the present attack is seen in a much more serious light.

Regardless of exactly who did it, this attack amounts to Hamas getting shot in the foot. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy had just received Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh for a “buddy-buddy” talk about easing travel restrictions imposed on Gaza Strip residents. They had agreed on opening the Rafah border crossing for 12 hours a day to allow more Palestinians to go and go. Restriction on travel regulations at Cairo’s airport would be eased. The Hamas group proclaimed a “hugh achievement” had been obtained through these discussions. Hamas had been quick to note the Egyptian Supreme Military Council opposed these concessions. Egyptian military have longer considered Hamas a threat to their national security.

Guess what? The attacks brought these agreements to a screeching halt!

The terrorist attack has proved to be an extreme blow to the Hamas talks with Morsy. In addition, they represent an economical loss. Immediately after the border assault, the Egyptian government forced Hamas to close down all underground tunnels that have been vital to preserving Gaza’s economy.  In addition, to smuggling goods and fuel, the tunnels have been used to bring weapons into the Hamas controlled area.

It’s obviously going to be a long time before Morsy and the Hamas group sit by the swimming pool and have a nice chat. As Abba Ebon once said, “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

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