Israel under Siege

Israel under Siege Jackie Santoro

The war has been very hard. Every day there are casualties, every day there are too many vibrant, brave, wonderful young men whose lives have been ended too soon. We see their pictures, we hear their stories and feel the immense, deep and profound grief that the families must endure. Yesterday, a courageous young, believing soldier succumbed to wounds incurred in Gaza. His non-Jewish Christian grandparents came from Germany to support Holocaust survivors after the war and the family has been serving the country ever since. Uriya wasn’t a citizen but volunteered for combat and the government honored the family for this great sacrifice of their beloved son.

Since the release of the first hostages, the families of the remaining hostages have become more vocal and intense in their cries for another deal. And the more they protest, the greater the reality of the “impossibility” of the situation in the natural. They of course want their sons and daughters and fathers and children back at all costs. They want negotiations which Hamas declares can happen only with a permanent ceasefire. The government desperately wants them back also but needs to keep fighting aggressively to bring Hamas to their knees. There is great pressure being put on the government. It is a deep divide.

Each day starts with the hope that this will be the day they are found. After all, the military is all over Gaza, controlling huge parts, discovering more tunnels every day but no sign of the hostages, except for several bodies found dead.

Then on Friday night, just as families were eating their Erev Shabbat dinner, the news came. They had indeed found 3 hostages but they were mistakenly killed by Israeli soldiers. The news was a knife to the bleeding heart of the nation. It was unthinkable, incomprehensible, it was beyond consolation.

Our hearts broke with the broken hearts of the parents who had endured 70 days of not knowing where their sons were and just when they are out of the hands of Hamas and could taste freedom, they were gone. Yet we are also filled with compassion for those soldiers who fired, not knowing. They were glad to have killed three more terrorists. What horror to discover that it wasn’t the hated terrorists but the dear ones they were looking for and trying to protect. The fighting is so very intense, the tensions high, decisions have to be made in a split second. Sadly, mistakes are made.

Words fail to describe the depth of all that is going on here. Although we are fighting a righteous battle and are stronger militarily, it feels as if we are a nation under siege. Our heroic, valiant troops are not professional soldiers. They are young men just out of high school and the older reservists are men who have left family and jobs to fight this war. Most have never fought real combat before. It is a war for the survival of this nation and everyone knows this and the sacrifices are made willingly and resolutely. Morale is high but the pain and suffering are always there.

The northern border is unstable and volatile. There is daily rocket fire from Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. There are casualties and significant damage. Thousands have been evacuated and can’t return to their homes. The reality is that this front can explode at any time. International shipping has been affected by missiles being shot from Yemen against any ship connected to Israel. Anti-Semitism is raising its ugly head in every part of the world to an alarming degree.

The war is also painful on the economic side as businesses are closed and so much of the labor force is now in active combat. There is no tourism and the airport is generally empty except for El Al flights.

Israel as a nation has never walked this way before. Even though the military failed them on October 7, the nation rallied united and strong to defeat the enemy. But we are used to quick victories. This is different. The depth of trauma and grief has never been experienced like this on a national level.

As believers, our consolation is knowing that God will not fail us. It is not the script we would have written but we know without a shadow of a doubt that God loves this nation and His people and good things yet await us. We are grateful that we can trust Him and that on every page, His word declares His unfailing love for this nation that is called by His name. He is “the God of Israel”!

Though we suffer, He will restore us. He will redeem all that has been lost. Since this war began, I have felt the incredible specialness of this nation. Indeed the very DNA of God is embedded in this Land. We have a great future. His word promises. And He is not a man that He should lie!

Please continue to pray for this embattled country. This war is changing the heart of Israel and people have been profoundly affected. Everything they believed in has been shaken and continues to shake. And yet in the midst of that, we know that God will show himself faithful and hearts will turn to Him.

Pray that the hostage crisis will be solved positively for Israel and that we will see total victory on the battlefield. Pray that we can receive the comfort of God as a nation. Only He can heal the deep wounds of His people and only He can change our mourning into joy.

The government leaders are under more pressure that humans can seemingly endure and need a continuous supernatural touch from heaven. General Gadi Eisenkot who is part of the special war cabinet lost his son and his nephew on the battlefield within a few days of each other. Pray that the nation stays united and resilient. Pray that we as His Body would be vessels of Hope to a battle weary nation.

Thank you for standing with us during this time. As the world celebrates the birth of Yeshua, our Jewish Messiah, we too share in the joy of His birth here in this Land, and that He lived and died for the sins of us all and rose to life, defeating death here in Jerusalem, this great city of the King. And His people, though they don’t know him yet, are fighting to keep His name here always. May His light shine ever brighter from this Land he chose. Israel has been called to be a “light to the nations.” It will yet come to pass.

May this Holiday season and New Year bring you joy and love in abundance. God is good and His love never fails.

With love from Zion,