Shalom from Israel! Along with the rest of the world, many in my country celebrated the beginning of a new year. However, instead of the sound of champagne corks and the singing of Auld Lang Syne, we rang in the turn of the calendar to the tune of air attack sirens and the deafening sounds of our low-flying fighter jets. Lest that sound pessimistic, let me tell you that I in no way feel negative about the future of Israel. We are sorrowful, wounded, and heartbroken. But we are not defeated. In fact, it is just the opposite. The Israeli people are filled with a scowling, jaw-clenched determination that should have those who are set on harming us running deeper into their tunnels. The year 2024 will see Israel at peace and without any more fear of what is just on the other side of its borders.
To get there, though, it is going to take another six-to-nine months. That is what the US administration and the United Nations need to understand. Well, maybe not the UN – they’re hopeless. But the pressure and the restrictions that my government is dealing with from Washington is threatening to hobble the effort. How do people not understand that this is not just an anti-terror action? This is an all-out war against a real enemy. When the Americans and the British bombed Dresden, Germany, in February 1945, there were no restrictions demanding that the 3,900 tons of explosives be precision directed only at military targets. There was no requirement that humanitarian aid be immediately provided as part of the assault. Instead, it was determined that the reward of shortening the war was worth the cost of the devastation. It was the same thinking used to end the War in the Pacific.
But the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are not indiscriminately bombing. In fact, they are doing everything they can to avoid civilian casualties. The war in Gaza could have been completed before the end of October with far fewer Israelis hurt and killed if the IDF didn’t care about civilians. Instead, the military gave up the advantage of surprise in order to warn Gazans to flee areas that would soon be targeted. Also, they limited the size and strength of the ordnance used if civilian targets would be put at great risk.
What does Israel get for their care in the prosecution of the war? The Gazan perpetrators are made victims by the press, and the US administration warns our prime minister that he better stop the “indiscriminate bombings”. Academics, social influencers, protest organizers, and the talking heads on television all agree that the while the Palestinians may have possibly gone a bit overboard in expressing their legitimate rage on October 7, it can certainly be understood after so many years of repression. What ultimately needs to happen to bring peace in the land is summed up in the catchy little phrase, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free!” For those of you who may not get what is meant by “free”, just add “Jew-” in front of the word and that should clarify it.
I wish there was a magic wand that Benjamin Netanyahu could wave that would give us peace on all our borders. But that kind of security only comes through perseverance, hard work, and time. Israel is determined to see it through. While I would love to think that Washington will stand with us the whole time, I am not that naïve. But there is a bigger, global entity that I believe is even more important to have as an ally. That is the church. Already, I am seeing cracks in the resolve of the worldwide church when it comes to Israel. Some are condemning the country’s actions. Many more are just ignoring it, afraid to speak of it out loud for fear of offense or reprisals. I call on the church to pray in your services for Israel. I call on the church to pray in groups and as individuals. We show our love for God when we love that which He loves. Please, encourage your pastors to weekly bring the safety of Israel before the One who considers this backslidden nation to be, even now, the apple of His eye.
For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”
One piece of wonderful news for the beginning of 2024 is that today sees the beginning of construction on CONNECT! From this new facility, Behold Israel will be able to continually update the news, produce quality videos, teach Israelis, host tour groups, and carry out many other ministry-related activities. Despite the war carrying on around us, we still anticipate CONNECT being ready for operation at the end of April. Thank you so much for your prayers and your giving to this ministry facility. With your help, God has brought CONNECT from the spark of a vision to the place that we are only months away from opening.
The Middle East
IDF Assassinates Major Hamas Commander
Tuesday night saw a meeting of key leaders of the terrorist organization, Hamas. Among those attending the meeting was Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy chairman of the Political Bureau of Hamas. Born in the West Bank, al-Arouri joined early with Hamas, and in 1993 he founded the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which is the military wing of the terrorist organization. He continued to rise in the ranks until he became the most important person in Hamas outside of Gaza. That came to an end when an Israeli airstrike targeted al-Arouri’s Tuesday night meeting. He was instantly killed, along with five other terrorist leaders. Not only was this an embarrassment to Hezbollah since the meeting was taking place in their headquarters, but more importantly this is a major blow to Hamas. Al-Arouri was the number two man in Hamas and deputy to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. But his elimination is even more significant than if it had been Haniyeh taken out. Al-Arouri was a strategic terrorist. He was a creator, an initiator, and an implementer. He was also ambitious and very charismatic. The elimination of Haniyeh might have been more symbolic in nature, but taking al-Arouri will have far greater impact and it is a shame it didn’t happen earlier. To learn more about this attack, watch my short Breaking News Update from immediately after the event.
IDF Working Hard in Khan Yunis
There are five governorates to Gaza descending southwards. The first two, North Gaza and Gaza City, are firmly under IDF control. Rather than continue to the third, Deir el-Balah, the IDF has focused its attention on the fourth governorate of Khan Yunis. They are doing this to try to cut off the gradual southward retreat of Hamas. If the fleeing terrorists were able to make it all the way to the fifth governorate of Rafah, then they would potentially be able to flee across the border into Egypt. This is why, if you follow my Telegram, you have seen so much activity in Khan Yunis this past week. To have this strategy and its reasoning described in much more detail, please watch “An Important Update from Amir” posted on Tuesday. Beyond the activity in the south, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has been very busy in the north. Iranian officers and proxy militias bore the brunt of the attacks in Syria, while Hezbollah targets were incessantly pounded in Lebanon.
Extraordinary Number of Chinese Weapons in Gaza
The IDF says that it has seized a “massive” amount of Chinese manufactured weaponry in Gaza. Defenders of China have said that it is impossible because China does not sell weapons to the Middle East. This short-sighted response ignores the round-about way weapons travel, particularly within what seems to be an emerging axis of evil between China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran with its minion proxy militias. So, while China may claim to have a strict control over the flow of their weaponry, it is likely that the containment practices of their arms factories are similar to that of their biological labs.
Houthis Given Stern Warning
A stern warning was issued to the Houthis by a coalition of 13 countries, led by the United States. A joint statement issued by the coalition read, “Ongoing attacks in the Red Sea are illegal, unacceptable, and profoundly destabilizing…. The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.” In the last three months, there have been approximately 24 attacks on international shipping in the area.
U.S. Bases in Iraq and Syria Under Constant Attack
There have been at least 118 attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria since October 17. The perpetrators of these assaults are the Iranian-led proxy militias. While they’re sending suicide drones toward U.S. troops, the Washington administration continues to play footsie with the ayatollahs holding out hope for some sort of nuclear deal. For those of you in America who are reading about this, how many of you knew that the attacks were this extensive? If you didn’t, then ask yourself why you didn’t? There’s an event coming the first Tuesday in November that might have something to do with it.
Explosions in Iran Cause Hundreds of Casualties
An explosion yesterday sent shrapnel flying into the massive crowd that had gathered in Kerman Martys Cemetery, located just over 500 miles southeast of Tehran, to commemorate the death of assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. The fleeing crowd funneled onto Shohada Street, where twenty minutes after the first blast took place a second bomb went off. It is here that most of the casualties occurred. So far, at least 103 are known to be dead, while another 211 are wounded. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the terror attack, but sources in the U.S. speculate it to be ISIS or a related group. It is also possible that it is one of the many disgruntled minority populations that make up between one-third to one-half of Iran’s population. Iran, however, claims that they know who the perpetrators are. Mohammad Jamshidi, deputy chief of staff for political affairs to the Iranian president, posted on X today, “Washington says USA and Israel had no role in the terrorist attack in Kerman, Iran. Really? A fox smells its own lair first. Make no mistake. The responsibility for this crime lies with the US and Zionist regimes and terrorism is just a tool.” The Islamic regime knows full well that it is neither the U.S. nor Israel, but their own opposition. But less than 24 hours after the assassination of al-Arouri, it’s much more convenient to make Israel the scapegoat.
Turkey’s Skyrocketing Inflation
It’s possible that Turkey’s President Erdogan needs to stop worrying about Israel’s prosecution of its war and start focusing on his own economy. The inflation rate finished the year near 65%. A shift in philosophy at the central bank this past June has led to interest rates lifting from 8.5% to 42.5% six months later. Unfortunately, from what we know about Erdogan, this kind of news will not quiet him on the world stage. It will only make him more dangerous.
Difficult Start for Japan’s New Year
A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Ishakawa Prefecture on New Year’s Day. At least 55 people were killed, and there was widespread damage to roads and houses. The next day, sorrow compounded sorrow when a JAL jet carrying 379 people collided on the ground with a Coast Guard plane preparing to aid victims of the quake. Everyone on board the passenger plane survived, but five of the six on the smaller plane perished.
South Africa Accuses Israel of Genocide
The South African government has filed a case at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza. Apparently, the country’s ANC-dominated leadership has forgotten what genocide really is. To refresh their memories, they are welcome to look back at the Hamas-led atrocities on October 7. Or, if they prefer something closer to home, their constant turning of a blind eye to the massacring of white farmers all across South Africa speaks well of the concept. Israel has chosen to defend itself against the charges, and South Africa is demanding that the case, which would normally take several years to adjudicate, be dealt with directly. In the meantime, they are asking the court to issue a legally binding injunction for Israel to “immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza.” Should this occur, I am positive that the Netanyahu administration will give the demand the due that it gives everything connected to the United Nations. For all of Behold Israel’s dear friends in South Africa, especially those who have contacted us apologizing for this court case, let me assure you that we recognize that this is your ANC-led government, not you. We pray for you as you struggle under their leadership, even as you faithfully pray for us in the difficulties we bear.
Registration is now 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!
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 will begin tomorrow, January 5!
My Telegram Channel is a constant flow of news throughout the day. Subscribe to my channel to make sure you know exactly what is going on.
God gave His laws to Moses for the people of Israel to observe. He did the same with the yearly cycle of feasts. Why were these rules and observances so important? In “God’s Calendar”, premiering Friday, January 5, at 12:00 PM PST, I’ll use the seven Old Testament feasts of Israel to show you Jesus Christ and His redemptive role as described in the New Testament.
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.
As we close, I would like to make a personal request for prayer. I am going south this weekend to spend time with my 76-year-old mother in Eilat. She has been battling cancer and she could very much use your prayers. Thank you so much.
I am so grateful for your support and your prayers. As we enter 2024, we know that it will be full of surprises – some good and some not so good. But through it all, we have the profound assurance that God is always with us and we are never alone. With Him alongside us, how can the enemy ever prevail against us?
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.