By INcontext Ministries — Originally published in A World In Motion, Issue 104, 24 July 2014
The United States will provide $47m in humanitarian aid to help Palestinians hit by Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip, Secretary of State John Kerry has said. The comment comes as Kerry embarks on a diplomatic push to secure a ceasefire in the region. “We are deeply concerned about the consequences of Israel’s appropriate and legitimate effort to defend itself,” Kerry said in Cairo as he met United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “No country can stand by while rockets are attacking it, and tunnels are dug in order to come into your country and assault your people. But always, in any conflict, there is concern about civilians – about children, women, communities that are caught in it.” (Aljazeera)
The Gaza tunnel initiative
While the death toll in Gaza has exceeded 600, Israeli officials have indicated they would keep up efforts to destroy tunnels that Hamas is increasingly using to mount cross-border attacks. Four Israeli soldiers were killed in a raid by Hamas militants who infiltrated southern Israel through a tunnel on Monday 21 July. There have been five such raids in five days. Hamas has highlighted the sophistication of its tunnels on social media and elsewhere as a point of pride, and has responded defiantly to Israel’s pledge to eradicate them. Asked what it would do if Israel destroyed all of them, a Hamas spokesman said last week that they would be rebuilt. Some are used to infiltrate Israel, others to smuggle goods and people to and from Gaza across the Egyptian border. Hamas secured the release of more than 1 000 prisoners in 2011 in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured in a raid through a cross-border tunnel in 2006. (Wall Street Journal)
The ongoing media struggle
The recent raids into Israel have added legitimacy to the ground campaign into Gaza aimed at destroying these tunnels, and may go some way in elevating Israel’s position in the current conflict that is being fought on the platforms of international news media and popular social media as well as ‘on the ground’.
Jodi Rudoren, writing for the New York Times, believes that “the clash of narratives, the struggle for domestic and international opinion, is seen by both sides to have long-term stakes as high and perhaps even more lasting than combat on the ground”. She further describes the situation as follows: “Propaganda wars have unfolded alongside the battlefield for generations. But analysts said the latest flareup between Israel and the Gaza Strip has brought a new level of dehumanizing, hateful language and a muddying of official talking points with incendiary threats, as social media broadcast an explosion of voices [and] an onslaught of unreliable information.”
A South African student currently volunteering at a kibbutz in Israel wrote of the propaganda constantly flying around, and all the fear, hatred and desperation felt on both sides of the conflict – how Hamas seems to ‘feed off’ those fears and how children in Gaza are being ‘raised’ to hate Israel, and how Israel is caught up in the ‘sick cycle’ of being driven to defend themselves in the face of the anti-Semitic wave that surrounds them. Her perception of the two sides is that for the citizens of Gaza, the “aim of life is to escape or destroy the oppressive [Israeli] presence”, while for Israelis, people see the conflict as a fight “for existence”.
FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE
For Western Christians, trying to wrestle with ‘right and wrong’ relating to the loss of life in Gaza and to the Israeli perspective of needing to defend themselves at all costs is a complex and confusing process with few clear answers. Reverend Charles Kopp, Chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Israel, made the following appeal: “Now is the time we should all get together around the Lord Jesus and pray for each other and plead for mercy… for all of us. Let us avoid entering the trap of the blame game, but rather, admit that we are all sinners saved by grace and without Him we are destined to return to this same table of accusatory negotiations. It is imperative we remember that our first allegiance and citizenship is from above and that we cannot use the Bible selectively to defend the cause with which we identify.”
CLICK HERE for a full perspective on the global media war and the situation Israel is facing, with input from Dr David Aikman (formerly of TIME Magazine) and Chris Eden from Bridges for Peace.
PRAY > For the preservation of Israel in a very turbulent and antagonistic region > For the innocent people who find themselves in terrifying circumstances, that they would seek comfort from Jesus > That Christians in the region would be a strong and loving witness to all.