Prayer for Peace in the Holy Land
Paradox Ministries: Promoting Reconciliation

Prayer for Peace in the Holy Land


March 22nd, 2008 . by admin

After the traumas of the IDF attacks on Gaza and the attack on the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, there has been a lull in violence. Experience teaches that, even when a situation looks really bleak, it may be that secret negotiations are going on. They are denied, of course, but that is for political reasons. It seems there may have been negotiations between Israel and Hamas, perhaps brokered by Egypt. Israel denies such a deal, claiming that Hamas has acted only because of Egyptian pressure, but Mahmoud Abbas says it has been made. Some Israelis are calling for Hamas to be included in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Hamas claims that the reduction in violence is because Israel realizes its attacks on Gaza have failed to achieve their purpose.

Israel ordered the IDF to show restraint in Gaza and the IDF withdrew ground troops and ceased air attacks. The rocket attacks from Gaza declined dramatically. There are Israeli reports that an informal, unofficial set of rules have been agreed during Condoleeza Rice’s recent visit. However Israel killed five wanted militants on the West Bank, risking retaliation from Islamic Jihad.

It seems that the IDF may have agreed to stop attacks in Gaza if the rocket attacks cease. However air attacks will take place (and have recently taken place) if rockets are fired at Sderot. Apparently the IDF has said it will mount ground attacks if Ashkelon is hit by rockets. The last such ground attack resulted in over 100 Palestinian deaths. It is likely that Hamas has reduced its attacks partly due to pressure from Egypt.  General Omar Suleiman, Egyptian chief of intelligence, is due to visit Israel but his visit has been postponed more than once. Egypt is itself unhappy about the extremism of Hamas and its effect on extremists in Egypt which threaten the government. So the Egyptians are keen to help with negotiations and to seek a ceasefire. They will be rewarded by military aid from the US. Amos Gilad, a leading light in Israel’s security establishment has visited Suleiman in Egypt. Apparently Israel has agreed to more Egyptian forces moving to Sinai and to the Rafah border being opened under the control of a joint commission composed of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, the EU and the UN. This arrangement could provide a foundation for a ceasefire. Both Hamas and the PA have accepted this agreement, which has been brokered by Egypt. But Hamas is demanding an end to the economic siege of Gaza, which is not fully acceptable to Israel. Hamas also wants its own supporters involved at the Rafah crossing which is a problem for Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. However, it seems that Hamas may be happy with a low-key involvement, allowing Salam Fayyad, PA prime minister, to oversee the security forces, and this may prove acceptable to the PA.

Another helpful move is that Israel and Egypt have agreed that Egypt should largely take over from Israel as the main electricity supplier to Gaza.

However, there is no room for complacency about terrorism. On the Israeli side some very inflammatory statements have emerged from the Israeli right wing concerning revenge for the attack on the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva. Rabbi Dov Lior, a graduate of the yeshiva, now head of the Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria, pronounced in 2004 that the IDF was justified in killing innocent people. On the Palestinian side, Israel claims to have intelligence of a number of planned terrorist attacks. Their main concern is at the possibility of a combined Hezbollah, Syrian, Iranian response to the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh.

According to the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, which is linked with Hezbollah, Syria has conveyed to Israel its willingness to hold peace talks, on condition that there is a ceasefire with the Palestinians, that Israel is willing to withdraw from all “occupied Arab territories” and that simultaneous peace talks take place with the Palestinians and the Lebanese. An Arab summit will take place in Damascus between March 25th and 30th.

Meanwhile the Israeli- Palestinian peace talks have resumed


1. For an effective ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. 2. For the failure of revenge attacks by either right wing Israelis or extreme Palestinians. 3. For God to prosper helpful moves by the Arab nations, especially Egypt. 4. For peace between Israel and Syria.


March 6th, 2008 . by admin

Life in Gaza is bad. There is appalling poverty. Unemployment is 60%. Most people exist on UN food handouts. The hospitals are on the verge of collapse. Many people are being killed – over 100, including children, died in the recent Israeli incursion into the Strip.  Israel claims that 90% of those killed were militants. But B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, claims that “from 27 February to the afternoon of 3 March, 106 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip. At least fifty-four of the dead (twenty-five of them minors) did not take part in the hostilities. In addition, at least forty-six minors were wounded.”

On the other hand, the Israeli town of Sderot has been on the receiving end of a total of 7694 rockets which have caused injury and death and which have made the population live in constant fear.  No country can allow its innocent civilians to be indiscriminately attacked in this way. Some Israeli response was inevitable.

However, Israel has come under widespread criticism for a disproportionate response to the rocket attacks from Gaza.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told the Security Council: “While recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed an injured so many civilians, including children. I condemn Palestinian rocket attacks, and call for the immediate cessation of such acts of terrorism, which serve no purpose, endanger Israeli civilians, and bring misery to the Palestinian people.”

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert responded to this criticism by saying: “I hear criticism and claims that civilians are being hurt and that Israel is using too much force. Israel is defending its residents in the south, and with all due respect, nothing will prevent it from protecting them – and no one has the right to preach to us over actions that are in self defence.”

Israeli Minister of Defence, Ehud Barak had sought legal advice from the Attorney General on the legality of Israel moving Palestinian civilians from the rocket-launching areas.  The answer is that it is not clear if it is legal.

However, the question is whether military action or rocket attacks are the best way forward for the sides carrying the out. The idea that either side can beat the other into submission seems mistaken. The people of Gaza, not just the militants, have received punishment. The rocket attacks from Gaza have not ceased.

One unfortunate development is that, because of the Israeli attacks, Mahmoud Abbas broke off peace talks with Israel and the Egyptian Head of Intelligence cancelled his visit to Israel. This effectively gives the Hamas militants a victory and encourages their intransigence.

It appears that Hamas wants a ceasefire, so long as it doesn’t appear to be a defeat for them. And 64% of Israelis support the idea of the government having talks with Hamas. A Hamas spokesman in Gaza said: “We will halt our fire in exchange for a complete end to Israeli military operations in Gaza and in the West Bank, and a lifting of the blockade on Gaza. Otherwise, we have no intention of halting our activities against Israel.”  The Israeli and Fatah negotiating teams were due to re-establish contact today and Condoleeza Rice has stated she believes a peace deal could still be achieved this year.


1.    Pray that both sides will recognise the futility of violence and will find a way to achieve a ceasefire without appearing to lose face. 

2.  Pray that the peace talks between Israel and Fatah will indeed resume. 

3.  Pray that Israel and Hamas will find a way to talk which does not appear to imply the violence has    been successful.

4.  Pray that Egypt and moderate Arab states will resume their peace initiatives and co-operate positively with the western powers.

5.  Pray for the suffering innocent people on both sides: the fearful, the injured and the bereaved.