Saturday, December 27, 2008

Israel launches Massive Air Raid on Gaza

Curt Here...

After many days of rockets being fired from the Palestinians/Hamas into Israeli towns and after many days of warnings from Ehud Olmert, Israel retaliated today by launching a massive air raid into Gaza. It appears from the size and scale of the operation that Israel is very determined to end the assault of missiles from Hamas into their territory.

The article posted below also says that Israeli offensive has sparked angry Arab protests throughout the Arab world along with calls for immediate restoration of calm from many western leaders including the Vatican, Tony Blair and Javier Solana. The Arab League has called for an emergency meeting to discuss the situation. The meeting is scheduled for either Sunday or Monday.

There are also rumors floating around that a major ground operation will probably be forthcoming into the Gaza Strip in the coming days or weeks. Some say reserve Israeli army units are already being called up. This may also be partly in anticipation of a possible missile response from Hezbollah and/or Syria.

So with all this going on, one has to ask the question, is this the beginning of the war that is prophesied in Psalm 83, or could this be the opening shots that leads to the destruction of Damascus? I know there have been many minor skirmishes over the years between Israel and its neighbors, but this seems to have the feeling that it could turn into something a little more serious. Only God knows of course, but it is definitely something we should watch very closely.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and stay tuned.


Israel demolishes Hamas compounds, over 200 dead

Saturday, December 27, 2008 12:34 PM EST The Associated Press By IBRAHIM BARZAK Associated Press Writer

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years.

Most of those killed were security men, but an unknown number of civilians were also among the dead. Hamas said all of its security installations were hit, threatened to resume suicide attacks, and sent at least 70 rockets and mortar shells crashing into Israeli border communities, according to the Israeli military. One Israeli was killed and at least six people were hurt.
With so many wounded, the Palestinian death toll was likely to rise.

The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion in Gaza, as black clouds of smoke rose above the territory, ruled by Hamas for the past 18 months. Some of the Israeli missiles struck in densely populated areas as children were leaving school, and women rushed into the streets frantically looking for their children.

"My son is gone, my son is gone," wailed Said Masri, a 57-year-old shopkeeper, as he sat in the middle of a Gaza City street, slapping his face and covering his head with dust from a bombed-out security compound nearby.

He said he had sent his 9-year-old son out to purchase cigarettes minutes before the airstrikes began and now could not find him. "May I burn like the cigarettes, may Israel burn," Masri moaned.

The offensive began eight days after a six-month truce between Israel and the militants expired. The Israeli army says Palestinian militants have fired some 300 rockets and mortars at Israeli targets over the past week, and in recent days, Israeli leaders had threatened to launch a major offensive.

"There is a time for calm and there is a time for fighting, and now is the time for fighting," said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, vowing to expand the operation if necessary.
Asked whether Hamas political leaders might be targeted, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni declared at a news conference: "Hamas is a terrorist organization and nobody is immune."
The first round of airstrikes on Gaza came just before noon. More than 100 attacks took place, continuing well into the evening.

Hospitals crowded with people, civilians rushing in wounded people in cars, vans and ambulances. "There are heads without bodies .... There's blood in the corridors. People are weeping, women are crying, doctors are shouting, " said nurse Ahmed Abdel Salaam from Shifa Hospital, Gaza's main treatment center.

The offensive sparked angry protests throughout the Arab world, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Vatican, the U.N. secretary-general and special Mideast envoy Tony Blair all called for an immediate restoration of calm. The Arab League scheduled an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss the situation.

In Washington, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, "Hamas' continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop. The United States urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza."

In Gaza City's main security compound, bodies of more than a dozen uniformed Hamas police lay on the ground. One survivor raised his index finger in a show of Muslim faith, uttering a prayer. The Gaza police chief was among those killed. One man, his face bloodied, sat dazed on the ground as a fire raged nearby.

By early evening, 205 Gazans were known to be dead and 388 wounded, Gaza health official Dr. Moaiya Hassanain said. He did not provide figures on civilian deaths. But earlier in the day, police said about 140 Hamas security forces were killed. Some of the dead, rolled in blankets, were laid out on the floor of Gaza's main hospital for identification.

Israeli military officials said more than 100 tons of bombs were dropped on Gaza by mid-afternoon. They spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines.
Defiant Hamas leaders threatened revenge. Hamas "will continue the resistance until the last drop of blood," vowed spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

Israel told its civilians near Gaza to take cover, and in the West Bank, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a bitter rivalry with Hamas, condemned Israel. Egypt summoned the Israeli ambassador to express condemnation and opened its border with Gaza to allow ambulances to drive out some of the wounded.

Despite the overwhelming show of force, it was not clear whether it would halt the rocket fire. Past operations have failed to stop the attacks.

One rocket struck the Israeli town of Netivot, killing an Israeli man and wounding four people, rescue services said.

Dozens of stunned residents, some of them weeping, gathered around the house that took the deadly rocket hit. A hole gaped in one of the walls, which was pocked with shrapnel marks. The crowd broke up after an alert siren went off and everyone went running.

Streets were nearly empty in Sderot, the Israeli border town that has been pummeled hardest by rockets. A few cars carried panicked residents leaving town. Dozens of people congregated on a hilltop to watch the Israeli aerial attacks.

Protests against the campaign erupted in Arab Israeli villages, the Abbas-ruled West Bank and across the Arab world.

The most violent West Bank response came in the city of Hebron, where dozens of youths, many of them masked, hurled rocks for hours at Israeli forces, who lobbed tear gas and stun grenades in response. Officials in Bethlehem, Jesus' traditional birthplace, turned off Christmas lights and traders shuttered shops to protest the Israeli attack.

Anti-Israel protests also erupted in Amman, Jordan, and in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria.

Israel has targeted Gaza in the past, but the number of simultaneous attacks was unprecedented.

Israel left Gaza in 2005 after a 38-year occupation, but the withdrawal did not lead to better relations with Palestinians in the territory as Israeli officials had hoped.
Instead, the evacuation was followed by a sharp rise in militant attacks on Israeli border communities that on several occasions provoked harsh Israeli military reprisals.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

The guys from "The 70th Week" would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

May we not ever forget the real reason for the season.

Curt & Mike

Monday, December 22, 2008

Obama and Rick Warren

Mike here....

I read this article in our local paper on Sunday and found it interesting.

If you recall Rick Warren held a Presidential Debate at his Church a few weeks before the elections. Apparently that relationship has created a relationship that will continue with President Elect Obama.

Mr. Warren has been very influential to Pastors throughout our nation as an author and speaker. He has recently begun to draw criticism over some of his public comments and teachings. As I read this article I kept waiting to find the major theological mis-step and I didn't. He is holding a firm line on the biblical definition of marriage.

What I find more intriguing is the apparent budding relationship that will continue into an Obama presidency. Don't get me wrong, I'm not faulting Mr. Warren for taking the opportunity to pray with the president. I'm just sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what specific challenges or crisis are on the horizon and how President Obama will react.

As a sidebar, gay rights organizations are still apparently on the war path with Christians in the public court of popularity. Would these organizations have publicly scorned a Republican president elect making the same decisions? Didn't Obama run for president as a Christian? Why wouldn't he invite one of the most well known pastors to be a part of his inaguration?

Anyway, this could be in interesting relationship that tells us more about two men who are influential but yet we still don't seem to really "know" them.

Across the great divide Gays angered by Obama’s invitation to pastor

Published: Dec 20, 2008 09:32AM

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Barack Obama is taking heat from his own political base over his having invited a well-known minister to speak at his inauguration next month — and, no, we’re not talking about civil rights icon Rev. Joseph Lowery, who will deliver the benediction.

Gay rights organizations and a number of liberal groups are irate over Obama’s choice of Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback megachurch in California and author of best-seller “The Purpose-Driven Life,” to deliver the invocation at his swearing-in. The reason: Warren’s outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

In a scathing letter to Obama, the Human Rights Campaign called the choice of Warren “a genuine blow” to gay Americans, who overwhelmingly supported Obama in his race against Republican John McCain.

Gays and lesbians are incensed because Warren was an ardent supporter of a ban on same-sex marriage overwhelmingly approved by California voters in the November election. Some fear the decision to give a conservative pastor such a prominent role in the inauguration may signal that Obama is backing away from his campaign pledges to advance gay rights.

Those are understandable concerns for gays and lesbians, and others who support their cause. But they should keep in mind that Obama has made clear he disagrees with Warren on a range of issues. After Obama was asked to speak at Warren’s church during the campaign, he told reporters he appreciated Warren’s invitation “despite his awareness that I held views that were entirely contrary to his” on gay rights and abortion. “Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to speak.”

Now, Obama has reached across ideological lines to give Warren an opportunity to speak — and pray — at the inauguration of a president who will lead a nation comprised not only of Democrats, but of people across the political and religious spectra.

Nor is Obama likely to abandon the promises he made during his campaign, including an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell” in military service. Better to approach such difficult issues with an open dialogue with evangelical leaders such as Warren than, as too often in the past, from opposite and polarized positions.

Finally, there is another explanation for Obama’s invitation. He has forged a genuine friendship with Warren, an affable soul who wears Hawaiian shirts, gives away 90 percent of his income and pleads with American Christians to do more to fight AIDS, arrest global warming and ease the plight of the world’s poor. Despite their disagreements on some issues, Obama and Warren can find common cause on others.

Obama says he recently became part of an ad hoc prayer circle of supportive ministers that includes Warren. That doesn’t mean Obama agrees with Warren on issues such as gay marriage or stem cell research. But it does mean he values his prayers, counsel and friendship — in the same way that presidents going back to Dwight Eisenhower valued their relationship with Rev. Billy Graham without agreeing with him on all political matters.

At a juncture in history when the American people face an extraordinary range of daunting issues, it’s heartening that the next president continues to bridge the gaps that too long have separated Americans and prevented them from seeing their common interests and urgent need for one another.

There is no better or more fitting place for bridging gaps than the inauguration of the next president — one who will need all of the support and prayers he can get.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Intensify peace talks, UN and top diplomatic partners tell Israel, Palestinians

Curt Here....

Just a quick update. The quartet at the UN put out a statement on Monday calling for the intensification of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The statement also declared that the process that launched the bilateral negotiations that began at Annapolis are "irreversible."

Of course our good friend Javier Solana attended this meeting and was, I am sure part of the crafting of this statement. Please look at the article posted below.

One final tidbit from this article, notice the last sentence as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states that he is looking forward to achieving a two-state solution with the help of President Elect Barack Obama.

The first few months of our next Presidents administration, could be quite interesting.

Stay Tuned.

Intensify peace talks, UN and top diplomatic partners tell Israel, Palestinians

15 December 2008 – The United Nations and its diplomatic partners in the search for Middle East peace – the European Union (EU), Russia and the United States – called today for an intensification of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, urging both sides to take the necessary steps to reach this goal.

The so-called Quartet, in a top-level meeting hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at UN Headquarters in New York, called on the Palestinians to continue their efforts to reform the security services and dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism.

At the same time, the group called on Israel to freeze all settlement activities, which have a negative impact on the negotiating environment and on Palestinian economic recovery, and to address the growing threat of settler extremism.

“The Quartet expressed its considered view that the bilateral negotiations process launched at Annapolis (last year) is irreversible and that these negotiations should be intensified in order to put an end to the conflict and to establish as soon as possible the state of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with Israel,” said a statement issued at the end of the meeting.

“The Quartet affirmed that a final treaty and a lasting peace will be reached through simultaneous and mutually re-enforcing efforts on three tracks: negotiations; building the institutions of a Palestinian state, including facilitating economic development through an improvement of conditions on the ground; and implementation of the parties’ obligations under the Roadmap, as stated in the Annapolis Joint Understanding.”

The partners have long championed the Roadmap, which embodies the two-State solution, first set for achievement by the end of 2005. At the Annapolis meeting in the United States last year, participants set the hoped-for target for the end of this year, and UN officials have voiced regret that this, too, has proved impractical, while welcoming the intensified talks that have ensued.

Turning to the Gaza Strip where Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, seized control from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2006, the Quartet called for a continuation of the calm between Gaza and southern Israel, due to expire at the end of the week, that has reduced violence between Israel and Palestinians there.

It reiterated that a lasting solution to the situation in Gaza can only be achieved through peaceful means and that all Palestinians must commit themselves to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, adding that restoring Palestinian unity based on “the legitimate and internationally recognized” authority of the PA – would be an important factor in this process.

The Quartet condemned “indiscriminate attacks” on Israel from Gaza and called for an immediate cessation of violence, but it also stated its “acute concern” at the recent increase in Israeli closures of crossing points in response to violence, noting they had cut basic commodities and humanitarian supplies, worsening the economic and humanitarian situation there.

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reported today that the Gaza power plant, which supplies a portion of the territory’s needs, has been turned off by the company in charge there. The decision was taken following the closure of all goods crossings yesterday.

A series of rolling blackouts has been occurring throughout the Gaza Strip since yesterday evening – ranging from 12 hours a day in some areas to 4 hours a day in others.
UNSCO also reports that 81 truckloads of materials did pass from Israel into Gaza today, including 20 truckloads for humanitarian aid agencies that included flour, milk and medicine.
“The Quartet emphasized that the provision of humanitarian supplies, including food, fuel, pharmaceuticals, water and sewage maintenance items, and to the people in Gaza must be assured continuously,” the statement said. “The Quartet also reiterated its previous call for Israel to allow into Gaza sufficient materials to facilitate the resumption of stalled UN and other donor projects.”

It also called for the immediate and unconditional release of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit, whose seizure in Israel by Palestinian militants from Gaza over two years ago unleashed a new wave of violence.

The Quartet commended the PA for its progress in security performance and welcomed the robust Israeli-Palestinian cooperation for the expansion of security and law and order in the West Bank, most notably in Jenin and Hebron.

“The Quartet viewed the successful deployment of the Palestinian security services to Hebron as the most recent demonstration of the substantial progress that has been made since Annapolis,” it added.

Attending the meeting with Mr. Ban were EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Ban thanked the outgoing administration of President George W. Bush for its efforts to advance the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. “These efforts have been tireless and are continuing. Very important progress is underway,” he said.

“In this respect we look forward to working closely from the outset with the administration of President-elect (Barack) Obama to achieve the goal of the two-State solution and comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.”

Sunday, December 14, 2008

U.N. Set To Pass Mideast Peace Resolution

Curt Here....

More talk of a peace in the Middle East. This time it comes from the UN in the form of a Mideast Peace Resolution. It appears that a resolution has been negotiated and discussed during closed door emergency sessions over the weekend at the UN. It also appears that it will be voted on and passed nearly unanimously on Tuesday.

I don't personally believe this is the peace treaty that provides the two state solution that everyone keeps talking about, but with all the major players at the UN over this weekend and for the next few days it should not be ignored. IMHO it is clearly another step in the process and will provide additional pressure towards the end result of two state solution and peace in the Middle East.

Put this together with Constance Cumbey's reporting on Share International soon to be coming "Christmas gift from the Maitreya" due soon after Christmas (you can read about it here on her Dec 12 post... ) and we have quite a bit of very interesting end times news right now.

Stay tuned.

U.N. Set To Pass Mideast Peace Resolution
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 14, 2008

(CBS/AP) For the first time in five years, the United Nations Security Council was poised to adopt a resolution calling for collective peace in the Middle East on Saturday.

Council members met in a closed-door emergency session to discuss a U.S.-drafted resolution, strongly backed by Russia, which appeared to have near-unanimous support. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Zalmay Khalilzad, said a vote on the resolution by the 15-nation council is expected on Tuesday.

The two-page draft resolution calls on Israelis and Palestinians "to fulfill their obligations" under last year's peace deal brokered at Annapolis, Maryland, and for all nations and international groups "to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations."

“With a year-end deadline looming, the four countries involved in the Middle East Quartet peace negotiations (the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations) met on Saturday and introduced a draft Security Council Resolution, which will be discussed on Monday with the expectation of a vote on the Ministerial level on Tuesday,” said CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk from the U.N.

“The objective of the Security Council action is to get the stalled talks back on track and show support for a formal meeting in Moscow in 2009,” Falk reported, “and the participation of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is intended to set the negotiations on a better footing before the Bush Administration leaves office.”

“With support from both the U.S and Russia, the Security Council is likely to get the Resolution passed which supports the peace process and the goal of achieving a two-state solution,” Falk added.

The U.S.-sponsored Annapolis talks had set a goal of achieving a substantive peace accord before President George W. Bush leaves office in January, a scenario that appears all but impossible now.

Now, the U.S. focus is on a smooth handover to President-elect Barack Obama that keeps up the momentum for peace. "We believe it is very important at this time to recognize the process that has been made," said Ambassador Khalilzad.

The Middle East peace negotiations have been stalled by a spike in violence in the region and the lack of agreement about resettlement of Palestinians, the fate of Jerusalem and Israeli settlements - and the objective of the talks is to not lose time because of new governments in the U.S and Israel as well as possible Palestinian elections.

“The Bush administration has an interest in passing on to President-elect Obama a peace process that is ongoing and not stalled," said Falk. Khalilzad announced the draft resolution, symbolically, with Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin while addressing reporters after the council session.

Churkin said the draft resolution was presented to council members Saturday for the first time as a culmination of the close work between the U.S. and Russia, which have been at serious odds much of this past year over Zimbabwe, Georgia and other issues.

"Of course we all cannot be satisfied with where the peace process is at now," Ambassador Churkin said, "but considerable efforts have been made over the past 12 months or so, and we believe that the effort has to be pinned down and it has to continue with our support, which may be there because of some political circumstances - change of administration of the United States, elections in Israel, possible elections in the Palestinian autonomy - but despite all those circumstances, we believe that there must be continued effort."

French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, whose nation holds the E.U. presidency until the end of the year, said France has been urging for a long time that the Security Council get involved in the Mideast peace process.

"So for us, it could be a very important milestone," he said. Before the council votes on the Middle East resolution, Libya has asked that it include language directed against Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The Arab peace plan calls for Arab recognition of the Jewish state in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal from all lands captured in the 1967 war. Not since November 2003 has the council passed a resolution on the Middle East that calls for collective peace by insisting on a two-nation solution for Israelis and Palestinians, according to Security Council Report, an independent not-for-profit organization.

"The Security Council for a long time has not been able to pronounce itself on anything on the Middle East process or the situation in the Middle East," said Ambassador Churkin, "so to draft this political statement coming out of the Security Council at the crucial junction will not be insignificant achievement."

The council needs only nine members to pass the new draft resolution, but diplomats said that with a resolution on such a complex issue as this one, some of its strength would be derived from passing it unanimously. Even if that does not occur, the resolution appears to be headed toward near-unanimous passage, several Security Council diplomats said. With all five of the council's permanent members on board, there appears to be no threat that any of them - the U.S., Russia, China, Britain or France - will use their veto power.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blair says that Palestinians and Israelis Reached a Secret Agreement

Curt Here...

There are some real interesting rumors floating around that there has been a secret peace agreement reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians. None of the major details of this so called agreement have been released yet. It apparently has not been signed by any of the participating parties, but there does appear to be at least at this point, some serious legs to this story. Check out the article posted below for more info.

Is this the beginning of the period of false peace that seems to occur during the first half of the 70th week of Daniel or is this just another on the long list of failed peace agreements that we have read about through the years?

If we have entered the 70th week of Daniel through the ENPI agreement (for more info click here that started on January 2007, then it would appear that some sort of peace agreement or period of false peace would need to occur before we reach the midpoint of the ENPI in July of 2010.

Could this really be it? Stay tuned.


Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has stated publicly that Palestinian and Israeli negotiators have reached a secret agreement.

In an interview with the leading Palestinian daily Al Quds, Blair stated that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have resolved differences between them, although he was careful to note that this agreement has not been signed. When pressed by the Palestinian reporter about the failure of the Annapolis process which began last year, Blair stated the following: "The continuous meetings between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and [Israeli leader] Olmert as well as the continuous negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli teams has produced an agreement." Blair said that he respects the choice of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders not to divulge details and therefore he would not give any further details.

Tony Blair who represents the Quartet Committee for Peace in the Middle East praised the courage of US President George Bush for his public pursuit for an agreement on a Palestinian state before the end of his term. Leaders of the US, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are in the last months of their terms in office. President Bush's last days in office is January 20th, Olmert has resigned and new elections are slated for February 2009, and the legal term of Mahmoud Abbas is due to expire January 9th. Blair praised President Elect Obama saying that he worked closely with General Jones who Obama choose as national security advisor.