Rapture Forum Staff: Chris
Welcome to this edition of the Rapture Report. Today we will look at the current news headlines coming out of the Israel and the Middle East and how they could possibly apply to Bible prophecy. As many of you know, IDF corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped several years ago by Hamas terrorists and has not been heard from since. There have been intense negotiations over the years about a deal whereby Israel would release hundreds if not a thousand Palestinian terrorists and/or prisoners in exchange for Shalit. However, despite all the meeting and talks there is yet to be a deal. Today, the Haaretz newspaper is reporting that:
European diplomatic sources said Thursday that kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit will be transferred to Egypt in the coming hours or coming days. This information has yet to be confirmed by Israeli officials. According to the European sources, Shalit’s transfer is the first stage of an agreement between the various Palestinian factions, assisted by Egyptian mediation and done in coordination with the United States and with the support of Syria. Shalit will be used as a "deposit" toward the completion of a prisoner exchange between the Palestinian factions, the sources said.
While we would all hope that IDF Corporal Shalit is released soon, I am somewhat skeptical as there are other reports that show that Hamas is hesitant on releasing Shalit. In another article, the Haaretz newspaper is shown reporting that the Hamas terrorist group is concerned that by releasing Shalit they will be seen as surrendering to the Israelis and the international community. The article reports:
Nevertheless, Hamas is not budging. It continues to demand all 450 of the prisoners on its list, including the planners of major suicide bombings since 1993. After the kidnapping, Hamas promised to obtain the release of masses of prisoners, and before Operation Cast Lead last December, it promised to get the border crossings reopened. But so far, it has yet to do either. Thus a compromise on Shalit might appear as a surrender to Israel.
While Hamas might feel the release of Shalit would be a surrender to Israel, the fact is that Israel gains to lose the most by releasing these 450 or so terrorists. Some of them being the worse offenders imaginable and will no doubt return to their evil and wicked ways. The Haaretz article makes a point that Shalit is still believed to be in reasonable health despite his 3 year captivity, however, another article cast doubt on that as Hamas was declaring that they could neither confirm nor deny that Shalit was alive. This is certainly a form of psychological warfare from Hamas to play on the sympathies and emotions of the Israeli population and to increase their leverage in any deal. The Israel National News reports:
Hamas cannot confirm or deny if captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is still alive, said an official authorized to speak on the issue. "The crazy war on the Gaza Strip wiped out everything so we don’t know if Shalit is still alive or if he has died," Osama al-Muzini told the Xinhua news agency. He said that Israel still has to go ahead with talks to exchange Shalit for a number of Arab prisoners "whether the soldier was dead or alive."
If or when a deal is struck, the sad fact is it will be then and only then that we will know for sure whether Corporal Shalit is dead or alive. The Israelis for their part believe that Shalit is still alive as they have received some sort of intelligence on the issue but where they have gotten their information is unclear at this time. Some have speculated that the Egyptians have given them this indication from their talks with Hamas.
I would like to ask that all readers of the Rapture Forums newsletter join in with us and pray for the safety, well-being, and release of Corporal Shalit. It is our desire and wish that he be released quickly and in good health. Amen!
In other news, Israeli PM Netanyahu is currently in Paris where he held talks with French President Sarkozy. Netanyahu went on record while speaking in Paris that Jerusalem would remain undivided. The Israel National News reports:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke Wednesday evening before Jewish organizations in Paris. "Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, will remain united under Israeli sovereignty forever," the Prime Minister said. "No one in the world will defend the Jews if the Jews won’t defend themselves." Netanyahu furthermore stated that there will be no peace agreement if the Arab countries will not recognize Israel’s rights. "Whoever wants peace will recognize the right of Israel and not make further demands," the Prime Minister stated.
It appears to me that Netanyahu is for the time being standing strong against the international community’s call for Jerusalem to be divided with a capital made for the Palestinians out of East Jerusalem. Bible prophecy watchers are aware that the Bible warns us that in the last days that Jerusalem would become a "burdensome stone" to the world and that eventually all who come against it will be "cut to pieces". We are literally seeing this prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes as the world pressure Israel to cave into their "piece" demands.
In other developments, PA citizens in the West Bank are fearing that Hamas is planning for a coup in the area. The Israel National News reported that local citizens of Kalkilya have discovered large caches of weapons in the Hamas areas. The news agency reports:
Arabs in Kalkilya, adjacent to the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, fear that Hamas will stage a coup similar to the one on Gaza two years ago, residents and political leaders told the American National Public Radio (NPR) network. "The Hamas leadership wants to take over [Judea and Samaria] and the proof is that they have discovered large weapons cache right here in Kalkilya in Hamas areas," Kalkilya’s Fatah representative Ahmed Shreen told NPR.
The article also made this interesting observation:
Many of those interviewed viewed the PA as trying to please U.S. President Barack Obama by showing that its American-trained forces are fighting terrorism. The PA and the United States have used the drop in terrorist attacks against Israel as a tool to force the Defense Ministry to remove blockades and eliminate most checkpoints. Officials in Judea and Samaria fear that the U.S. has bought an illusion that will literally explode in Israel’s collective faces in the future, similar to the years of violence that began in 2000 after the PA rejected an offer to accept a new PA state.
If Hamas is allowed to take over the Judea and Samaria areas of the West Bank then there will literally be a second "Hamastan" on the borders of Israel. This is of course will be run by Hamas’ Iranian masters in Tehran. Whether or not Hamas will be successful in managing a coup against Fatah, there is a good chance that this could happen. If it does, then Israel will be literally surrounded on all three sides by terrorists. The Hezbollah terrorists are in the north and Hamas in the south and potentially in the east. Such a development could be interesting to Bible prophecy watchers in that there are some prominent Bible prophecy teachers who believe that a war between Israel and the terrorists could lead to the fulfillments of the Pslam 83 and possibly the Isaiah 17 prophecies should things get out of hand quickly. We should definitely keep an eye on the Hamas terrorist group and their activities in the West Bank.
To further illustrate this possibility and the increased chance that Hamas could try a coup, the Jerusalem Post is reporting:
Days ahead of Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to the United States for talks with the Obama administration over settlement construction, the IDF on Thursday announced that it was scaling back operations in four major West Bank cities. Israeli soldiers take position during clashes with Palestinians following a demonstration against Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank town of Qalqilya. It was unclear whether the decision was directly connected to the talks in Washington, but defense officials told The Jerusalem Post that the move was made following American demands that Israel scale back its presence in the West Bank and transfer security responsibility to the Palestinian Authority. The decision to scale back operations in Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron was announced at a meeting between IDF officers and their Palestinian counterparts in Bethlehem.
To me, this scaling back of IDF forces in the West Bank area coupled with the rumors of a Hamas coup in the West Bank does not sound good. I think the terrorists are unknowingly setting themselves up for the fulfillment of Pslam 83. If they are not setting themselves up for the fulfillment of Pslam 83, they are definitely setting themselves up for some sort of heavy conflict with Israel. We can already hear the cries from the Palestinians to "wipe Israel off the map" and that their "name be remembered no more". It’s just a matter of time before the rubber hits the road and fighting breaks out.
If fighting breaks out and results in the fulfillment of Pslam 83, this could in turn cause Israel to actually gain land and be lulled into a sense of false peace setting the stage for Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy when the Russian led moslem coalition tries to invade Israel for what would be certain destruction had God not dramatically intervened.
But regardless of what happens in the Middle East, believers are to remember that nothing escapes the knowledge of the Righteous and Holy Father. He has delcared that vengeance will be his and that in the end he will judge the evildoers. Keep looking up, our redemption is drawing nigh.