'A Battle for the Future of Israel'

May 12, 2021

The sirens are a common sound in Israel, but this was no ordinary attack. Since Monday night, rockets have rained down with frightening frequency on the country's Iron Dome missile defense system, as children scream and cry from bomb shelters across Israel's border towns. The sky has been "on fire," the locals have said in the scant moments when cell service works. It is the heaviest fighting between the Jewish nation and Gaza terror groups in years -- and to the horror of people around the world, it shows no signs of stopping.

"Israel is under attack," the Israel Defense Forces declared as more than 1,000 bombs have been launched toward Tel Aviv -- temporarily suspending air travel and creating chaos throughout the country. Tensions have been high for weeks, because of a fiery land dispute that's sparked riots, violence, and unrest for days across Jerusalem. Hamas promised the largest missile strike ever in retaliation -- a threat the Palestinians are still carrying out with a vengeance.

Leaders from Defense Minister Benny Gantz to Benjamin Netanyahu say every option is on the table. We will restore order "with an iron fist if necessary, with all necessary force and with all necessary authority," they say, adding, "Israel is not preparing for a ceasefire. Only when we achieve complete quiet can we talk about calm," Gantz told reporters as he looked at some of the decimated areas in Ashkelon. "We will not listen to moral preaching from any organization or institution regarding our right and duty to protect the citizens of Israel."

Tuesday night on "Washington Watch," we talked to CBN's Middle East bureau chief, Chris Mitchell, live from Israel about the current situation -- which he called "very tense, as you can expect." Ninety percent of the rockets, they estimate, were struck down by the Iron Dome, but many have gotten through, he said. "[Some] have been killed... Many people right now are in bomb shelters down south, and schools will be closed in southern Israel. As you said, Israeli prime minister just came out with a statement saying this campaign could take a long time. Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the plan is to set back these terror groups for years... So it's a very, very bitter campaign right now. I haven't seen anything quite like this in a long time."

Adding to the anxiety, the terror groups and Palestinians have become more precise with the kind of rockets they're using -- changing their trajectory and other tactics to get past Israel's missile defense. Also, Chris pointed out, "the number of rockets can sometimes overwhelm the... system. Earlier today, people have been posting videos on Facebook, just incredible sites. It almost looked like 'Star Wars' or the Fourth of July celebration with the rockets going up one way, the Iron Dome intercepting them in the other. And this is really that kind of battle in the skies. But it's also a battle over the future of Israel."

But if these Palestinian forces have figured out to evade the Iron Dome, then obviously, they're getting help from someone. Chris believes the most likely suspect is Iran. "Iran has been helping Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is a Shiite group as well. So the help is coming from Iran, probably the technology, some of the material that they would use as well."

On Tuesday, the White House called for "co-existence" in the region. "We believe Palestinians and Israelis deserve equal measures of freedom, security, dignity and prosperity," Press Secretary Jen Psaki said after agreeing that Israel has a "legitimate right to defend itself." Meanwhile, former President Trump, who authored an unprecedented peace deal in the region, is appalled at the lack of outspoken support for Israel. "Under Biden, the world is getting more violent and more unstable because Biden's weakness and lack of support for Israel is leading to new attacks on our allies..." he insisted. "America must always stand with Israel and make clear that the Palestinians must end the violence, terror, and rocket attacks."

For now, men and women of faith around the world -- including FRC -- continue to pray for Israel's protection. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: 'May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.' For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, 'Peace be within you.'" (Psalm 122:6-8)