Israel (MNN) — An ominous phrase is rampaging through the internet news boards: “third intifada.”
Not enough people know what it means in order to prevent it from happening. Intifada is an Arabic word derived from a verb meaning “to shake off.” It’s the term used to describe the major Palestinian uprisings against Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The first time, in 1987, it was with stones. The second, in 2000, was a mix of non-violent protests, suicide bombings, and gunfire. Tom Doyle, Middle East expert and author of the book Killing Christians, explains that “there are periodic calls from imams to start a jihad, start a holy war, start a conflict–whatever they call for. This has become very routine in the Middle East.”
Although the intifadas are always deadly and always costly, this time it’s also personal. “They were called to…just start to attack people. Here’s another new weapon,” says Doyle.
A video posted on 09 October, in which an imam (Muslim preacher) in Gaza waved a knife during his sermon and encouraged Palestinians to step up stabbing attacks on Israelis. Doyle explains, “Knives are very simple. Most people own them in their homes. They are getting them through security areas, and it definitely has been open season with the knife attacks.”
Whatever the motivation, there is a wave of Palestinian violence spreading across Israel. One week after the video’s release, Israelis had been stabbed on the street in Raanana, Hadera, Afula, plus there’s been unrest in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel clamped down, provoking more attacks. “We’re praying that the third intifada does not launch here. We’re praying that some of these incidents will stop. The peace talks have stalled. Palestinians are frustrated. They actually have been off the (global) radar.”
Between the instigation by an imam and the speed at which a video can go viral and provoke widespread outrage, the situation spiraling out of control. The reality is, Doyle admits, “We don’t see signs of a great peace solution on the horizon any time soon.” Caught in the middle of it all: the Palestinian and Israeli believers. “We’re praying for Palestinian believers who have it really tough. We’ve been in contact with them. They’re doing fine, but they do ask for prayers; and then we pray for Israelis, too. Neither side wants the conflict. They both want peace.”
Yet, Russia is flying over, within miles of Israel’s border, in support of Syria’s Bashar Assad. Syria and Iraq, already none too friendly, are also dealing with the threat of the Islamic State. Enemies on all sides, and yet Doyle says, “We’re just praying that this calms down. We’re praying for Palestinians and Jews. We’ve heard great reports about Jews coming to faith in Christ and in credible things happening, so we’re praying for stability. We’re praying that the gospel just really permeates the whole land of Israel.”
The main thing requested by the Jesus people living in this area: prayer. Don’t know how to start praying for this region? There are lots of personal requests being shared on this Facebook page: 8thirty8. Doyle points out, “This will give updates on the persecuted church. This will help keep you in touch with some of the difficult situations believers are going through.”