Shalom from Israel! Even as I hear the rumble of jets echoing in the skies above me, I am still taken aback at the beauty of the land that surrounds me. The Jezreel Valley, which spreads for miles below my house, is lush and fruitful. The green bounty of the crops is only broken up here and there by the rich brown of the soil being turned by farmers in their tractors. It is idyllic and puts me in the mind of that apt description of this land as being one flowing with milk and honey.
Yet, despite the miraculous fertility of modern Israel, there is still a pall of sorrow that hangs over its people. This past weekend marked 100 days since Hamas terrorists poured over the Gaza border and began torturing, raping, kidnapping, murdering, and mutilating every Israeli that they could find. Even today, there are still 132 hostages that remain in captivity enduring the brutality of these savages. Imagine being one of these innocents, just ordinary civilians, having been snatched from your home, forced to watch your loved ones slaughtered, then abused at the hands of your captor’s day-after-day for 100 days. It’s so horrific that I can’t let my mind go too deep into their experience. It’s too dark. It’s too evil.
For these past months, I have necessarily been immersed into what has been taking place in my country – the prosecution of the war, the return of the hostages, the terrorist raids. Yet, even with that primary focus, I haven’t lost sight of what’s happening in the rest of the world. So many locations beyond just Israel are either at war or close to erupting. There are those who say that we are on the verge of another world war. Just three days ago, British foreign secretary Grant Shapps said in a speech that the “era of the peace dividend is over” and that we are now in a “pre-war” period that could eventually lead to conflicts involving Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. I agree with much of what he is saying. However, after taking stock of our global situation, I believe that a strong case can be made that we are already in a world war.
In today’s newsletter, I want to look at eight areas of conflict or potential conflict that involve a very large percentage of Europe, Asia, and North America, and examine what has taken place in each situation just this past week.
World War Conflicts
Israel’s Conflict with Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon
Successful heavy bombing and strategic military maneuvers continue in Gaza in Khan Yunis, Northern Shati, and Beit Bahia. On Monday, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that the “intensive phase” of the offensive in northern Gaza is complete, and should soon wrap up in the south, also. However, this does not mean that the battle is over. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are simply shifting to the next phase that will see terrorists and their facilities, infrastructure, and weapons eradicated. When pressed as to whether there will be a conclusion to military action anytime soon, Gallant tied his negative answer to the hostages who are still in captivity, saying, “If the fire stops, the fate of the hostages will be sealed for many years in the captivity of Hamas. Without military pressure, no one will talk to us. Only from a position of strength can the hostages be freed.”
The IDF is determined to staunch the threat from the south, because they understand the brutality of the enemy. On October 7, 19-year-old Adir Tahar was brutally murdered when Hamas terrorists fired an anti-tank missile at him, then followed up by throwing three grenades. When Adir’s father, David, read the autopsy report, it showed that his body was severely damaged and that the terrorists had decapitated him and stolen his head. This began a father’s desperate and tragic search for the head of his son, so that he could bury him with at least some dignity. After weeks without a lead, a terrorist under interrogation confessed that he had Adir’s head and had attempted to sell it in Gaza for $10,000. Based on his information, the IDF searched an ice cream shop in Gaza and found Adir’s head in a suitcase stored in the freezer. David was finally able to bury his son intact. It is stories like these that will keep us Israelis fighting until we are sure that all our borders are safe.
Nightly operations into the West Bank continue. On Tuesday, a terrorist cell leader, Abdullah Abu Shalal, was killed by an IDF airstrike in Nablus. The next night, a massive operation in Tulkarm resulted in the arrest of 300 terrorists. Jenin and Dora also saw fighting. All these actions are to root out Palestinian terrorists who are bent on killing innocent Israelis. Sunday and Monday saw two terror attempts thwarted, leading to the deaths of the attempted perpetrators. Tragically, on Tuesday, two Arabs from the West Bank succeeded in their plan. Each commandeered cars, stabbing their drivers. Then they proceeded to ram the vehicles into pedestrians. A 79-year-old woman was killed in the attack and 17 more people were wounded.
The IDF held an exercise on Tuesday simulating an attack in Lebanon. Said IDF Major General Ori Gordin, head of the Northern Command, “We are more ready for this than we have ever been, for tonight if we have to.” Meanwhile, major air attacks continue on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon.
Iraqi Militias’ Conflict with Israel
Channels associated with Shiite militias in Iraq claim that an explosion at Haifa Bay’s oil refineries on Sunday was a result of a cruise missile they launched. As the Islamic Resistance in Iraq celebrated the victory, Israeli officials said, “Not so fast.” The Israeli Protection Ministry instead claims that it was a “breakdown of a polyethene machine at the Carmel Olefins factory in Haifa” that caused the explosion. Whatever the real story is here, there is no doubt that Iran-backed militias in both Iraq and Syria are trained, armed, and just waiting for their opportunity to cross the border into Israel and carry out their own murderous rampage.
Iran’s Conflict with Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan
You’d think that Iran had its hands full with its on-going proxy war with Israel and Saudi Arabia. But apparently, the ayatollahs have tired of having all their “Arab rabble” doing the dirty work for them. They want to get their hands bloodied, too. In a 24-hour-period at the beginning of this week, Iran launched airstrikes using missiles and drones on Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan. In Erbil, Iraq, the IRGC targeted a well-known local businessman, killing him and his family. They justified the action saying that it was a Mossad headquarters. The Iraqi foreign minister condemned the attack on CNN saying Iran couldn’t hit Israel at home, so they went to the nearest supposed target. But it wasn’t the Syria and Iraq attacks that caused the most stir because who doesn’t fire missiles at those two countries these days?
Instead, the major hub-bub came from Tehran’s violation of Pakistani sovereignty by firing a ballistic missile at the headquarters of Jaish al-Adel, an armed Sunni militia, in Pakistan’s Balochistan province near the Iranian border. Pakistan immediately warned of serious consequences to the attack, then proceeded to close its border with Iran while deploying forces into the area. Baluchi militants didn’t wait for the Pakistani government to act against Iran. The group Gish al-Adel on Wednesday shot to death a high-ranking IRGC officer in Balochistan. Also, on Wednesday, Iran launched another air attack into Pakistan, and now Pakistani F-16s are flying around the border. Then, today, the action continued. Pakistan launched a drone and rocket strike against terrorist organizations in southeastern Iran. Not hitting official Iranian targets was a strategic move, letting Tehran know that Islamabad was capable of the same kind of cross-border air attack. Instead of a punch, this was more of a bumping of the chests. Iran, in an act of whatever the Persian version of “chutzpah” is, demanded an explanation for Pakistan’s actions, and immediately ordered military exercises to take place in the area. This is a conflict that must be watched, and, again, it can’t be emphasized enough that this change of philosophy by the Islamic regime in Iran to engage directly rather than through their proxies is a significant step.
Yemen’s Conflict with the US and the UK
Last Thursday saw a major joint airstrike by the United States and the United Kingdom on 62 targets at 16 different sites belonging to the Yemeni Houthi rebels. This came after the Iran-sponsored proxy militia continued its belligerence against Red Sea shipping and the State of Israel. In an official statement from the U.S. Department of Defense, Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote that the strikes “targeted sites associated with the Houthis’ ballistic and cruise missile, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities.” The purpose of the action was “to disrupt and degrade the Houthis’ capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade in one of the world’s most critical waterways.” The Houthis responded on Wednesday with a drone attack on an American ship in the Strait of Aden. Late news saw another US strike Wednesday night on 14 rail-based Houthi missiles that were primed to fire at any time. The targets were destroyed.
To emphasize their unhappiness with the Houthis, the US administration redesignated the terrorist group as a “terrorist group”. The previous administration had placed the Yemeni rebel group, formally known as Ansarallah (“Supporters of God”), on the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list which allowed assets to be frozen and accounts blocked. But early in the Biden administration, the state department removed them from that list. Wednesday’s redesignation stopped short of returning the Houthis to the FTO, and instead declared them to be a Special Designated Global Terrorist Group (SDGT). Ease of humanitarian aid was the reason given by the administration, and they say they reserve the right to amend the designation.
The global war concerns here can be seen in who condemned the airstrikes. Both Russia’s President Putin and Turkey’s President Erdogan came out strongly against the action. China’s ministry of foreign affairs expressed its concern about the escalation of hostilities in the Red Sea. This is one more military issue that is dividing the east from the west.
Russia’s Conflict with Ukraine
It has been one year, ten months, three weeks, and five days since the Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” was launched. In that period, half a million soldiers and civilians have been killed or wounded. Now, according to German newspaper Bild, Russia is secretly strategizing to expand the conflict to NATO countries. Russian foreign affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quick to pooh-pooh the allegations comparing it to a “mighty horoscope from last year for Pisces in Cancer.” I’m not sure what that means, but I’m guessing it’s a negative. Still, if the tide should turn against Russia in the war with Ukraine, it is very easy to see a desperate Putin expanding the conflict in a grasp at straws.
China’s Threats Against Taiwan
The days leading up to Taiwan’s presidential election this past Saturday provided the perfect opportunity for China to again emphasize their ownership claims to the island nation. In a speech celebrating the new year, China’s President Xi asserted that unification is a “historical inevitability.” The Chinese air force and navy are consistently infringing on Taiwan’s sovereignty just to remind them that they are close. The election to Taiwan’s presidency on Saturday of Lai Ching-te, whom Beijing regards as a dangerous separatist, is bound to ratchet the tension up even further.
Foreign countries are weighing in with their opinions. Aleksandr Dugin, a close adviser of Vladimir Putin, believes that the time is optimal for China to begin a military operation against Taiwan. US President Biden used the election as an opportunity to remind the world that America does not support Taiwan’s independence. This has been the official US position since 1979. However, in 2016, President-elect Donald Trump made a call to the then-president of Taiwan, leading to harsh condemnation from China. He was the first president to make such a call since Jimmy Carter. If it looks at all like the 45th president has a chance to move back into the office and become the 47th president, it would not be surprising to see China launch an action against Taiwan prior to the November US elections.
Turkey attacks the Kurds
Turkish jets flew into Syria and Iraq on Friday and rained missiles down onto more than two dozen targets belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG). The attack came in retaliation for a raid by the PKK on a Turkish army base in northern Iraq the day before that left nine of Turkey’s soldiers dead and another four wounded. President Erdogan’s government considers these two groups to be terrorists, which causes friction with the US government who partners with the YPG in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).
North Korea Threats Against South Korea
The aggressive rhetoric by Kim Jong-un against South Korea is equally matched by his aggressive actions. Just under two weeks ago, the North Korean army fired 200 artillery rounds into the maritime buffer zone established between them and their southern neighbor. For the same reasons that China’s Xi might consider a pre-US-election move against Taiwan, Supreme Leader Kim may find himself with a decision regarding South Korea come fall.
Registration is open for Proximity 2024, held at Calvary Central OC on January 27, 2024. Pastor Barry Stagner and Pastor Mike Golay will be teaching in person, while I will “satellite” in from Israel. Just where are we in the prophetic timeline, and where are we going next? Those are the questions we’ll be answering. Please come and join us! You may register here!
Speaking of my dear friend, Pastor Barry Stagner, did you happen to catch my time with him on The Lineup, this past week? If you didn’t, I’d encourage you to check it out. We had a great time talking current news, Scripture, and how the two intersect.
After the amazing success of our Alaska Cruise conference in 2023, we are preparing to take our teaching back on the water! For these opportunities, we will be presenting our Discovering Daniel & Revealing Conference in two very different venues. The first will be a cruise through the Mediterranean, which will take place from October 19-29, 2024. Our second opportunity to present these teachings will be on the waters of the Caribbean on January 18-25, 2025. Registration for both cruises is currently open! Make sure to register soon, as we anticipate these events to fill up quickly.
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Climate change – What is it? How is it affecting the world today? Is there an ever-present climate crisis, or is there an agenda masquerading as a crisis to promote a new and growing religion? Join Professor Yonatan Dubi & me this Friday, January 19, at 12:00 PM PST, as we examine the science and engage in a much-needed discussion surrounding the topic of the alleged climate crisis in “Climate Change: A New World Religion?”
Discovering Daniel – so much of what is taking place in the Middle East ties in with the Old Testament book of Daniel. This book, a prequel of sorts to my bestselling Revealing Revelation, is available for preorder leading up to its May 7, 2024 release.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support, particularly as the construction of CONNECT has begun. We are all so excited to see the incredible opportunities to minister to my fellow Israelis and to the world as a result of this facility. The Behold Israel team and I are so blessed to have you as part of our family.
Awaiting His Return,
Amir, a Jewish Christian, is the founder and president of Behold Israel, a news site to correct the scarcity in trustworthy reportage on issues and events impacting Israel, and to resolve the uncertainty about who or what to believe.