Israel (MNN) — The ceasefire with Gaza collapsed on Friday after both Israel and Hamas militants accused each other of violating it.
Volleys this week from Gaza were met with Israeli airstrikes that took out the head of the Hamas military wing. Naturally, this caused retaliation, and the cycle of war began grinding forward.
Tom Doyle with
E3 Partners was leading a mission team through some ministry sites in Jerusalem. "We heard the sirens go off, and it took me back to some of the times we've been in Gaza and we've heard the air raid sirens. We thought, ‘Could it be in Jerusalem? Could they really shoot almost 50 miles?' Sure enough, right after that, three loud explosions. They'd hit the Holy City, or at least the outskirts."
Both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem both were hit, which brought the conflict to a new level. "The people of Jerusalem are kind of dazed that they actually heard sirens and something hit in the area. They're just in shock. They didn't think that it could happen, but it did." Doyle says because of the threat to Israel's citizens, "I would expect that Israel will hold nothing back now. It was bad enough hitting the largest city, Tel Aviv, but now they've hit the Holy City, so this will not be good."
In fact, thousands of reserve troops were green lighted into action. Meanwhile, Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi vowed support for Palestinians. Doyle notes, "The last time there was major conflict in Gaza, a lot of the Muslim nations called for everyone to back Hamas up. Nobody showed up." However, with the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood behind Morsi, it could be a very different response this time around.
The continued pounding and retaliatory strikes over the weekend can't be taken for anything but a spiral into an all-out war. Still, Egypt again tried diplomacy to calm the tensions. Over the weekend, the prime minister was trying to hammer out a truce that would keep the lid on an already boiling pot.
Meanwhile, believers are calling for a prayer vigil. Many Christians are caught in the crossfire, says Doyle. "We know lots of Israeli Defense Force troops that are young Messianic believers that are amassing on the Gaza border at Erez Crossing." On the other side, "We need to remember the church in Gaza really has no place to go. They trust Jesus."
Shortly before the team left Jerusalem, Doyle spoke with a Palestinian believer who shared his concerns over what's fast becoming an untenable situation. "'We pray that He would return again and stop this because we don't see any end in sight. Hamas will not give up, and Israel has to respond. We're caught in the middle. So we're asking for Jesus to stop this. We're praying for His involvement.'"
At a time like this, the Gospel finds purchase. This is what the Church is asking for, Doyle adds. "Join them, praying that they would be bold and really speak Jesus' words in the midst of this. These are the Words of Life and what people need to hear. So pray for the believers: they don't ask (us) to pray for their safety, but please, pray for their safety."