Welcome back, fellow Bible students! Now that we’ve studied and celebrated Israel’s re-birth, we’re going to turn our sights to Israel’s miraculous war history. God has indeed confirmed Israel as the apple of His eye, and has proven it in the way He has brought victory to them against all odds. Constantly, Israelites have been out-numbered, out-manned and out-equipped, yet constantly they have been miraculously victorious….and constantly God has been on their side.
Today, we’ll run through Israel’s war history since becoming a nation, and we’ll look at:
- The War of Independence (1947-1948)
- The Suez War (1956)
- The Six-Day War (1967)
- The War of Attrition (1968-1970)
- The Yom Kippur War (1973)
- The Gaza Conflicts (2008-2014)
We’re covering lots of territory today, so hang on!
The War of Independence. Within 24 hours of Israel’s declaration of independence, they were attacked by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. However, the conflict really began 6 months earlier, when on November 29, 1947, the UN Partition Plan was issued, creating separate Arab and Jewish states in “Palestine.” Though it was the smallest land mass ever granted to Israel, they agreed. Arabs, on the other hand, were not satisfied! They wanted more. Thus, they launched an attack. Once the Jews responded, they were accused of “massacres,” despite the fact that Arabs would signal surrender, only to ambush Israeli forces. And despite accusations of Jews killing women and children, over 100 Arab women casualties were found to be men dressed as women.
But consider the military balance in the War of Independence. Arab nations fought with 285 tanks to Israel’s 3; and 104 aircraft to Israel’s 4. The tiny Jewish nation had only ¼ of the artillery possessed by the enemy. Out-numbered, out-manned, out-equipped…Israel was victorious!
The Suez War. An armistice agreement ended the War of Independence, but defeat was humiliating to the Arab allies. Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser, who backed Nazi Germany during WW2, was determined to suppress the Jewish state. Thus, following defeat, he refused to allow Israel access to the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba…a violation of the armistice agreement. In 1951, the UN demanded that he open the canal, yet Nasser refused and vowed to “cleanse the land of Palestine.” So, on October 29, 1956, Israel launched “Operation Kadesh” and thoroughly defeated the much larger Egyptian nation in only 8 days! God proved Himself victorious on Israel’s behalf once again!
The Six-Day War. Humiliated once again by the defeat, Egypt and Arab allies conspired to stage terror attacks in 1964-1967, and Syria began bombing Israel from the Golan Heights. On April 7, 1967, Israel fired back, shooting down 6 Syrian fighter jets in a matter of hours. But Israel’s enemies failed to get the message! Thus, amidst rising Arab threats and calls for jihad, Israel struck on June 5, taking only 6 days to utterly destroy the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian air forces!
Once more, Israel was far out-manned (260,000 vs 415,000) and out-equipped (900 tanks vs 2350 and 203 aircraft vs 581), yet were overwhelmingly victorious. In fact, Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights!
More importantly, Israel took back all of Jerusalem, including Temple Mount! For the first time since their dispersion in 70 AD, the Jews took control of their most holy site! Now, for the amazing part: they gave back the Sinai Peninsula on the promise of peace (which obviously never happened), and they turned Temple Mount back over to the Jordanians in fear of igniting the third world war.
The War of Attrition. Arab leaders continued to become more and more humiliated by constant defeat by the pesky Jewish nation. In the aftermath of the 1967 defeat, Egyptian President Nasser resigned, only to have his people beg him to remain. He had agreed to a cease-fire and was now in desperate need of proving his people’s confidence. Therefore, he came up with a plan: enter into a long war of terror, thereby wearing down the tiny Israeli nation. Three weeks after the end of the Six-Day War, Israeli troops were bombed near the Suez Canal (newly-gained territory as a result of the Six-Day War). In addition, Yasser Arafat and his Fatah party began raids from Jordan, creating duel southern and eastern fronts. Terrorist raids became standard operation procedure for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
The Yom Kippur War. As always, revenge remained on the minds of Arab leaders. In 1973, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, 9 Arab nations and 4 other Muslim nations simultaneously invaded Israel. The October 9 attack occurred on Yom Kippur, Israel’s holiest day, when most soldiers were home with their families. Things looked bleak and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir pleaded for aid from the US. On October 12, US aid was granted and the tide began to turn. By October 18, Israel had the upper hand, and by October 22, a UN cease-fire resolution was the only thing that stopped Israel from overtaking Cairo Egypt and Damascus Syria!
God was again at work on behalf of His chosen land! Never had Israel been so out-numbered. Their 5,000 troops faced over 600,000 troops from at least 12 different Arab countries, who also possessed about 20X as many tanks as Israel.
Gaza Conflicts. In 2005, Israel handed over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians, who were quickly ruled by the known terrorist group, Hamas. The charter of Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel and replacement with a Palestinian Islamic state. Thus, the goal is clear! Between 2001 and the beginning of the Gaza Conflict in the summer of 2014, well over 10,000 rockets had been launched into Israel primarily from schools, hospitals and mosques within the Gaza Strip. In response, Israel was incredibly careful to protect the citizens of Gaza while targeting missile launch sites. To protect Palestinian citizens, Israel:
- Phoned Gaza residents to tell them when attacks would take place and where they should flee.
- Dropped millions of leaflets warning citizens of impending Israeli attacks and providing information to safety.
- Aborted airstrikes if civilians were seen to be in harm’s way.
- “Roof knocked,” firing missiles with no warheads to hit buildings they were about to target with live ammunition.
- Conducted precision airstrikes, capable of deploying missiles with pinpoint accuracy, so as not to hit other structures.
Meanwhile, Hamas used Israeli cement, provided to improve infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, to build terror tunnels. Each tunnel cost $3million, and over 30 tunnels were discovered by the IDF in 2014. Thus, over $90million meant for homes, schools, hospitals etc was used instead for terrorist activity.
Despite it all, Israel is accused of bombing schools, mosques and hospitals…the very places from which Hamas was launching rockets. In addition, Israel is chastised for killing women and children, despite the extensive warning Israel gave to save innocent civilians. Finally, Israel is accused of suppressing Gazan economy, despite providing the very building materials used to build terror tunnels.
Friends, we must be aware of the “big lie” being propagated by Israel’s enemies. Though Israel faces charges in international court of war crimes, the reality is that no military in the world acts with the integrity of the Israeli Defense Force.
Stay with us this week as we look at God’s promises to the re-born nation of Israel. We’ll also look at two Old Testament war miracles and a future battlefield miracle. We’ll end the week studying God’s heart toward His chosen people and His chosen land.
Thanks for hanging in there with us! Stay with us for an exciting week ahead!