All Roads Lead to Damascus
Vol: 58 Issue: 13 Thursday, July 13, 2006
All Roads Lead to Damascus
With tensions already running high from the June 25 capture of a 19-year-old Israeli corporal by Hamas terrorists, Hezbollah terrorists infiltrated Israel on Wednesday and kidnapped two more Israeli soldiers. Three other Israeli soldiers were killed in the raid, and five more died after Israeli forces pursued the kidnappers into Lebanon.
In an instant, Israel opened a second front against Lebanese targets, calling the move “an act of war” — and vowed to hold the Lebanese government accountable for the safety of the two soldiers. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised the Israeli response would be “restrained but very, very, very painful.”
It was more pain than restraint as Israel sent planes, tanks, gunboats and ground troops to southern Lebanon. If Lebanese news broadcasts are to be believed, some 47 Lebanese civilians–including at least two large families — have been killed so far in a barrage of airstrikes and artillery.
The Israelis launched attacks on the Beirut airport and Hezbollah’s television station in the capital’s predominantly Shiite Muslim southern suburbs. Lebanese television reported that Israeli aircraft attacked two runways, forcing the facility to close and sending flights to airports elsewhere in the Middle East.
Like the case of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was taken two weeks ago, the IDF troopers were inside Israel. They were not captured on the battlefield while they were conducting offensive operations against the Arabs. In such a case, they would be prisoners of war, entitled to (although unlikely to receive) the full protections of the Geneva Conventions.
Hezbollah’s leader, Hasan Nasrallah said in a news conference that the attack had been planned for months and was aimed at forcing negotiations that would win the release of three Lebanese held in Israeli jails.
“Let this be clear, the prisoners will only return home through indirect negotiations and a trade,” Nasrallah told reporters at a news conference in southern Beirut, one of Hezbollah’s strongholds.
“If the Israelis are considering any military action to bring the hostages home, they are delusional, delusional, delusional.”
“We don’t want an escalation in the south, nor war,” he said. “But if the Israelis want an escalation, then we are ready for a confrontation and to its furthest extent. If Israel chooses confrontation, we are ready, and it should expect surprises.”
Before we go on, let’s take a second to recap, first stripping away the propaganda and looking at the event itself.
These IDF troopers weren’t captured in combat, they were kidnapped during an infiltration of Israel. This is more than a mere distinction. Prisoners of war are taken for the purpose of removing captured combatants from the battlefield. The IDF soldiers were kidnapped to use as hostages to extort concessions, (in this case, a 1,000 to 3 prisoner swap) from a sovereign nation.
By way of illustration, a person captured by police in the commission of a crime is a ‘prisoner’. An innocent person kidnapped for the purpose of extorting ransom is a ‘hostage’.
Under any reading of any of the relevant international charters, infiltrating another country is an act of war and taking hostages is a war crime.
In addition, under any reading of the relevant international charters, Israel is a member state of the United Nations. And Hezbollah and Hamas are international terrorist groups of global reach who exist for the sole purpose of Israel’s destruction, as well as elected government officials in both the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon.
So Israel’s reaction is not only a no-brainer, it is an appropriate and legal response to what amounts to a war crime perpetrated against its citizens by another UN member-state.
It comes as no surprise that the immediate international reaction was to condemn Israel for ‘over-reacting’. The Russian government issued a statement calling Israel’s reaction ‘unjustifiable.’
The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying, “We obviously condemn this disproportionate act of war,” which would be reasonable, had it been issued against Hezbollah, and not Israel.
Let’s see. More than 1,000 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza since the Israelis pulled out and turned it over to the Palestinians. (That’s before Hamas infiltrated from the Gaza side to kill three soldiers and kidnap Cpl. Shalit to hold for ransom.)
Hezbollah shells northern Israel so regularly the residents all have bomb shelters and listen for sirens that warn them of incoming Katyusha rockets. (A woman in Nahariya was blown off her first-floor balcony and killed by a Katyusha rocket originating in Lebanon this morning).
Hezbollah regularly conducts raids into Israel to conduct abductions, conduct targeted assassinations, and when the opportunity arises, the occasional massacre, with the full blessing of the Syrian-backed Lebanese government.
Over-reacting? I don’t think so. Surprisingly, neither does the new German government under Angela Merkel:
“We call on the powers in the region to seek to bring about a de-escalation of the situation. We cannot confuse cause and effect. The starting point is the capture of the Israeli soldiers . . . The attacks did not start from the Israeli side, but from Hezbollah’s side.”
In his statement, President Bush supported Israel, sort of, in a convoluted statement that exonerated [almost] everybody: “My attitude is this. There are a group of terrorists who want to stop the advance of peace. And those of us who are peace-loving must work together to help the agents of peace – Israel, President Abbas, and others – to achieve their objective. . . [But] whatever Israel does should not weaken the government in Lebanon.”
Since Abbas is the head of Fatah (whose al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades kidnapped Shalit) and Hezbollah holds legislative seats in the Lebanese government, just who does that leave as the enemy?
According to the President, “Syria must be held to account. President Assad needs to show some leadership towards peace.”
Hezbollah is supported and funded by Iran, with that support and funding being channeled into the Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley through Syria, and that arrangement has been in place and operational for more than a decade.
For that reason, the situation needs to be viewed in the wider context of the whole Iran-Syria axis. Iran’s mullocracy is dedicated to Israel’s destruction, and its main ally in that effort is Syria.
Damascus plays host to both Hamas and Hezbollah, both of whom openly maintain offices and are listed in the Damascus phone book.
Strategically, Israel faces a strategic foursome, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. Indeed, The New York Sun published a column by David Twersky about the Israeli incursion into Lebanon under the title, “The War on Iran Has Begun.”
In his column, he writes, “Years from now, the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit will be regarded like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Against the backdrop of Kassam rocket fire on Israelis living within range of the Gaza Strip, it was the fate of Corporal Shalit that triggered the Israeli return to Gaza, which in turn brought the Hezbollah forces into the game.”
“Israel is fighting two Iranian proxies on two fronts. It may, or may not, open a third front against a third Iranian proxy, Syria. It is from the Syrian capital that Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, has been laying down Palestinian Arab negotiating conditions. Why listen to Mr. Meshaal? Because the Hamas troops are loyal to him, rather than to their erstwhile leader, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah, let alone the increasingly (as if that were possible) hapless Palestinian Arab leader, Mahmoud Abbas.”
The city of Damascus remains the oldest, continuously inhabited city on the face of the earth. In all its long history, it has never been totally destroyed. However, the Bible says God has future plans for Damascus, sometime between now and the conclusion of the Tribulation Period.
Isaiah writes; “The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. . . And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.” (Isaiah 17:1,4)
Isaiah’s depiction of Damascus troubling Israel in the last days comes at a time when the ‘glory of Jacob (Israel) is made thin’ — if ‘Israel’s glory’ were any thinner, it would be transparent.
It is hard to imagine how Israel’s standing among the nations of the earth could be lower.
Isaiah says that the destruction of Damascus shall occur “In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.” -Isaiah 17:11.
Israel, “Thy Plant”, which was ‘born at once’ (Isaiah 66:7) is the modern state of Israel. Israel did not exist in Isaiah’s day (the kingdom of Israel was destroyed a century before by Sargon) and did not exist again as a nation until May 14, 1948.
Isaiah accurately forecasts the global reaction already evident in the world’s relationship with Israel. “Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.” (Isaiah 17:12-13)
Isaiah further establishes that this is a future event and not history. Of Israel’s enemy, Isaiah says, “And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.” (Isaiah 17:14)
Isaiah speaks of overnight destruction — ‘at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not’ says the prophet. Ancient armies didn’t make war at night and the overnight destruction of a city of Damascus size was a physical impossibility, even if the invaders met zero resistance.
Israeli use of nuclear weapons is made even more likely by the probability of a open war — on a scale not yet seen — by a determined an enemy already ‘within its gates’ — the [Philistine] terrorists.
Numbers 33:55 says, “But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.”
The ancient Israelites were warned, says Judges 2:2-3, “And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.”
All in all, a pretty coherent description of the developing crisis in the Middle East. Lightning war, entire regions made uninhabitable, specific details like identifying Damascus by name.
All of it happening at precisely the same point in history, under the precise geopolitical situation existing in this generation (to the exclusion of all generations prior to 1948) all leading to the exact outcome foretold by the prophets.
The Bible claims 100% accuracy, 100% of the time, past, present and future. None other among the world’s sacred writings make similar claims. Only the Bible.
It remains an open challenge to the world system. Over the centuries, every generation has had its great thinkers and philosophers who dedicated their lives and considerable intellects to disproving the Scripture.
“Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” [Isaiah 46:8-10)