18 Minuets to Respond


Today a bit before 1:30 in the afternoon a senior member of Hamas was quoted as saying today would be the last cease fire extension – and it seems so.

At 3:48 in the afternoon three rockets were fired off toward the south of Israel landing in open areas near Ber Sheva.

It took Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu about 18 minuets to respond with an order for the Israeli Defense Forces to retaliate.

The Prime Minister also ordered the Israeli delegation in Cairo negotiating for a permanent cease fire to the hostilities home to Israel.

Thus is may be, at the time of posting this, that Mr. Netanyahu got an 'out' for having to push through his Security Cabinet an unpopular list of concessions with no real demilitarization from Hamas – Israel's main demand.

A poll taken yesterday reveals that the overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis want the operation Protective Edge to continue until Hamas is destroyed or surrenders.

(I have just received word that more Israeli airstrikes have hit Gaza.)

It is possible that international diplomacy may be exerted on the sides in order to place pressure and ensure there is no further fire and quiet returns.

Some Arab sources are saying the Israeli's themselves launched the rockets from within Gaza in order to sabotage the peace talks.

(A fourth rocket has now been launched landing in an open field in Israel.)

Lets pray that quiet will prevail and the delegations return to their work of negotiations – leading to an end of violence.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Behind This Conflict

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for your prayers as the cease fire continues to hold here in Israel and Gaza. There have been some sporadic occurrences in the West Bank and various places – but all in all things are quiet relative to the last four weeks.

I heard someone say that it seems overall that the Middle East is at the worst it's been in a long time... that may be so, and here is why;

The collapse of much of the middle east is the result of many things. Decades of dictators ruling and discontent among their peoples, the minority ruling over the majority – frustrated young people, who make up the majority of the populations... feeling that they have no futures.

One of the reasons for this is that we have multiple unstable situations in the region. In Israel, with the situation in Gaza – it is fueled by decades of what essentially is an unresolved conflict. Gaza has suffered three conflicts in five years – but this is by far the worst.

Behind this conflict is that the economic desperation of Gaza has reached a critical level after nearly eight years of an Israeli blockade of living supplies to the 1.8 million people who call the coastal strip 'home'.

Some say that this is a deliberate tactic Israel has developed with the Gazans in order to generate a crisis and keep their own interests afloat. Others would argue that Hamas's continued refusal to accept the reality of Israel's existence is to blame.

Israel's limitations on building materials, some medical supplies, even food make Gazans dependent upon the will of Israel in what they can do with their lives. Even fishing in the Mediterranean Sea is restricted. Israel says these steps are necessary to ensure it's security because the restricted materials could be used in terror attacks against the State.

As a result of no sea port for commerce, no airport to the outside world, closed borders with Israel, and little cooperation with Egypt - there is very little import or export – and this means there is no trade, which boils down to no economy. There is no money going into Gaza since Egypt closed the smuggling tunnels used over the last 7 years to get supplies into and out of Gaza.

Hamas is feeling more isolated – but they know they are firmly in control of Gaza and thus to keep their position they have fought this conflict because the hardship it creates can easily be placed upon Israel – so they have nothing to loose - as they face financial troubles themselves with having less supporters in the Arab World today.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Truce Continues To Hold

Hello Friends,

Good news here in the region as the 72 hour truce continues to hold.

As of this hour, there are reports of another 72 hour agreement on the table as Israeli press is reporting that Israel needs more time to come to some type of an agreement.

Some reports here actually are saying talks have in fact, from Israel's point of view - stalled, where other reports say that the Palestinians have agreed to the new truce extension.

Some unconfirmed points have been circulating which include that Hamas has agreed in principle to a 1000 man strong Palestinian Authority controlled force to man the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

This will be the first time the PA has been tangibly been in charge of something in Gaza since 2007 when Hamas kicked the Fatah aligned forces from the Strip.

The Rafa crossing is about six miles long and is essentially at the end of what is called the Philadelphia Route which is an Israeli military controlled buffer zone where Gaza and Egypt's borders meet.

Israel is also apparently trying to push for a formula to allow for select goods to begin to enter Gaza based upon Hamas's gradual demilitarization.

These are all part of the negotiations in Cairo for a lasting ceasefire that would morph into a long-term solution.

On the surface it appears that this does not address the core issues of the conflict – and that we will just be setting ourselves up for another conflict down the road in the future.

That may be, however the sides seem to be seeking a strategy that allows their position to seem victorious to their constituencies while not giving in to their opponent.

What is clear is that the differences between the sides are wide and not close to being bridged.

Gazans continued their efforts to repair electricity, water, and sewage for the 1.8 million inhabitants effected by Israeli strikes from land, sea, and air. An Israeli cabinet meeting on the truce talks scheduled for 12:00 today was cancelled.

Humanitarian supplies continue to make their way in, but not to the numbers sufficient to help the over quarter of a million displaced persons effected by the conflict - now in it's fifth week.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Islamic State and Minorities

Hello All,

Sadly, we have seen the Gaza truce expire and the rockets and airstrikes start up again.

But the story that has finally grabbed the world's attention away from the Hamas/Israel conflict is in Iraq and the effected religious minorities targeted by Islamic State (IS) fighters.

The United Nations says some 50,000 Yazidi members of the religious minority have fled their homes, many climbing Mount Sinjar where there have been conflicting reports of growing deaths from lack of food, water and shelter, to some having been rescued.

There are reports that IS fighters have surrounded the mountain. Many of those on the mountain are facing dehydration, and more than 40 children are reported dead by UN officials – other sources saying that number is more than 100.

US President Barak Obama has authorized aid drops on top of the mountain, declaring that the Iraqi Government has requested US intervention where they themselves can not intervene due to the lack of capabilities, and the President has also given the green light in limited and targeted US airstrikes to defend and save both the people on the mountain, reportedly up to 40,000 in number, from genocide, and American personnel on the ground in Irbil – and potentially in Baghdad.

The United Nations has reported that some individuals have reportedly been rescued off the top and relocated to a safe haven.

The first drops of aid have occurred, and with them, airstrikes upon IS artillery positions threatening the Kurdish fights trying to hold the mountain.

The other major development is that Nineveh inhabitants have, this week, left their homes as that Biblical city fell into the hands of IS with militant Islamic fighters blew up the commonly held burial site of the Prophet Jonah. Nineveh is roughly 250 miles north and west of Baghdad, and is home to a large number of small religious minorities.

Nineveh's fall is a symbolic victory for IS as it is referred to as Iraq's Christian capital, located 30km south-east of the city of Mosul, which rapidly fell to IS fighters in June.

Currently, some estimate that as many as 100,000 people are moving north and east toward the autonomous Kurdistan Region. Kurds are seen as tolerant – with many of their ethnic makeup coexisting in different faith beliefs – although the majority are Muslim. Their armed forces, called the Peshmerga, are well disciplined and have been putting up serious opposition to Islamic State fighters.

Iraq is home to one of the world's most ancient Christian communities, the Chaldean Church, with it's roots going back to the 4th century AD, but numbers have dropped with the rise of sectarian violence since the US-led invasion back in 2003. At that time it is commonly believed that there were 1.5 million Christians present in the area – that number is now dramatically down to as few as 350,000 in the area surrounding Nineveh where 4 mainly Christian villages and towns exist – and they are now on the run.

Pray for our brothers and sisters – and their Christian witness in the face of peril. May god give them strength.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Different This Time?

Greetings Friends,

We are giving it another go here in Gaza as a 72 hour Cease Fire has come into effect.

Many pundits have pointed to the rapid crumbling of the previous cease fire arrangements believing that this one won't last either.

That may be true - I pray it won't be... and this time there is a difference.

Israel has confirmed it has pulled all of it's troops out of the Gaza Strip and they are now poised on the Israeli side of the border.

This was a key position for Hamas in negotiations all along for a cease fire.

Also, we saw the seven hour unilateral cease fire declared by Israel yesterday that allowed desperately needed food, living, and medical supplies to begin to get into Gaza via Israel. It was not perfect, but it held.

The pressure is on Mr Bibi Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, to bring an end to this conflict from the international community. Yet within Israel, upwards of over 90% of Jewish Israelis want to see the operation continue in Gaza.

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli, arrived this afternoon at Ben Gurion International Airport with an aircraft carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. The Israeli political leadership are keen to display two things right now, that they care about the civilian welfare of Gazans and secondly, that they are cooperating with the international community.

So the truce, as at this hour, continues to hold, commentators are focused now on doing battle with the steps Israel's leadership has taken, the 'efficiency' of the results, and political jockeying for next years' elections.

What is clear is that neither Hamas not Israel want a return to the status quo, with Hamas wanting a lifting of the blockade on Gaza, and Israel wanting the demilitarization of the Gaza strip.

Let's pray that the three day truce will hold, that people may see humanity in each other and lay down aggressions, and the sides somehow talk to a compromise in which hostilities can end and solutions amiable to the needs of Gazans to live unrestricted along with Israel to be secure and not under threat be found.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Meltdown of Diplomacy

Hello All,

The 72 hour truce that surprised everyone who woke up here this morning was too good to be true... it lasted around an hour and a half.

Today has turned out to be terrible, as early this morning Gazans came out to find food, belongings, and to look for and bury the dead.

Caught off guard, they were subjected to airstrikes and shelling as they wandered.

Both sides blame each other for the breakdown in the truce – meant to be for humanitarian purposes.

At the time of writing this more than 40 Palestinians have been killed today, with two Israeli soldiers having been killed and one missing in action.

This meltdown of diplomacy will have it's toll – particularly upon Hamas and the people of Gaza.

Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, and Egypt were all involved along with the UN and the United States in wrestling a cease fire into fruition. These countries will be less likely to put their necks out again for formulating a break in the hostilities. This will only serve to further isolate Hamas and Israel both.

Israel has warned people in Gaza to get back inside and stay put, a direct warning of sorts that there is more heavy things to come.

With over a quarter of Gaza's population now displaced, the UN and other agencies are struggling to coupe - and are simply not able to help the sheer numbers fleeing the scope of destruction.

Many parts of Gaza are only receiving an hours worth of electricity, and sanitation plants are shut down, food unable to be kept, all in the summer swelter of heat along the Mediterranean coast.

Israel has confirmed more tunnels have been destroyed, but the perception is that when they do finish with the tunnels, they will purse Hamas personnel - starting with it's leadership.

Lets pray, as we think of the innocents caught up on both sides, for those who are crying out to God, that they may find His peace, that the hostilities would stop – even briefly, so that the mounting humanitarian supplies can indeed reach the people in need, and of course – a complete stop to this.

Today has been a repeat of what happened last week – let's hope that this cycle can cease – and the sides need to be made to start to talk. But with today's developments, it's hard to see someone stepping up to fill that role.

The US and UN will continue to engage - but their leverage is limited in ways that Arab countries can only fill it seems.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Wasn't Meant to Be...

Hello Everyone,

The cease fire so desperately sought after for so long by so many just wasn't meant to be...

Some sources are saying that as many as 100 Palestinians have been killed today – this after Israel ratcheted up its offensive in Gaza.

A hospital, the home of Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, and Gaza's only power plant have all been hit along with approximately 110 other targets struck mostly from the air.

Among the deaths are more women, children, and UN staff members.

The Israel Defense Force has described today's fighting as a "gradual increase in the pressure" on Hamas.

And the Israelis made good on that by shelling the power plant's fuel supplies.

This forced the plant to shut down - further plunging the 1.8 million Gazan's lives into despair.

Gaza does receive electricity from Egypt and Israel, but the already desperate situation people are facing just got worse as the supply of electricity, already rationed to a few hours a day, will now be even less.

After a brief lull in the fighting earlier this week, the violence has returned with a renewed intensity.

Gaza City seemed to be a particular focus for Israeli shelling as a near constant bombardment could be heard. Footage shot throughout the day showed large explosion after large explosion in the coastal strip.

Any sign that a truce would lead to more a sustainable ceasefire, as was the hope of Secretary of State John Kerry, has been – like many neighborhoods in Gaza – blown away.

There was talk of a unilateral truce from the Palestinian side, obviously brought on by the large numbers of casualties this day has brought.

5 Hamas Militants were killed having infiltrated Israel from tunnels originating in Gaza, with a confirmed total of 23 Palestinian fighters having been killed in total. Over the past 24 hours 10 Israeli soldiers have died.

Rockets have continued to trickle out of Gaza with little effect - with Israel's Iron Dome missle defense system actively engaging the incoming rockets.

At this hour, nothing has materialized in terms of talks for a renewal of yesterday's cease fire. On the contrary, we have heard numerous officials in Israel, including Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, say the offensive will go on and the power of the Israeli assault will grow stronger.

Officials now put the overall death toll near to 1,200 for the Palestinians, with most of those being women and children. There is also approximately 6,700 Palestinians who have been injured.

Israel has counted it's dead as 53 soldiers with three civilians casualties – being two Israelis and a Thai worker killed while working fields near Israel's border with Gaza.

Lets remember to pray that somehow hostilities can end, and for the very small amount of Christians who live in Gaza – that God may shelter them with His wings.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Jerusalem's Noisy Night

Hello All,

It was a noisy night her in Jerusalem's Old City.

Stun grenades and the shouts of men could be heard for hours.

Violence then broke out at the Kalandia checkpoint, the main Israeli entry/exit point to the Palestinian Authority located in the West Bank between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Some reports say more than 10,000 Palestinians protested and clashed with police in protest against the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel being played out in the Gaza Strip.

Hospital officials in Ramallah have put the death toll at five.

Police in Jerusalem arrested 39 rioters and estimate that 200 Palestinians were wounded in clashes overnight in Jerusalem.

27 police officers had been lightly hurt, including 10 Border Policemen.

Jerusalem deployed 4,000 police in Arab areas of Jerusalem including the Old City.

The police are also employing drones to fly overhead to monitor movement on the ground.

Last night Muslims celebrated Laylat al-Qader, referred to as the Night of Power, an important holiday in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

As I have been out and about today the police presence has again been beefed up for Friday prayers.

Restrictions have been placed upon Muslim worshipers entering Jerusalem and barrier checkpoints are up throughout the area.

The police helicopter can be heard overhead – like it was most of the night.

Yesterdays action allegedly started in the narrow streets of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, and quickly spread to the neighborhoods outside the walls.

At the same time, marchers proceeded from Ramallah in the West Bank to the Israeli controlled checkpoint where they were met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and reportedly - live fire.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Push for Cease-Fire

Hello Everyone,

Amidst increased violence and a bleak immediate future the United Nations General Secretary Ban-Ki Moon has arrived in Israel to push for a cease-fire.

He has come out saying that no country would tolerate rocket fire into their cities, but has asked Israel to exercise maximum restraint while condemning Hamas' use of schools and hospitals to launch rockets.

The General Secretary has reiterated that both sides need to start talking.

Meanwhile in the conflict more deaths on both sides have been recorded.

But the glaring figure is that among Israelis, the deaths are among soldiers, where as among Palestinians, the deaths are largely civilian – 70% overall according to the UN.

Gaza itself is one of the most densely populated pieces of dirt on the planet. Civilian deaths in this conflict are sadly inevitable because the Gaza fighters are simply among and operate within the civilian population – which is pretty much everywhere in the Strip.

A significant development (and blow to Israel) is that it has announced that one soldier is indeed missing in Gaza. There is a general feeling that he is dead, but that he may be alive has not been ruled out.

This news comes after Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor strongly denied that an Israeli soldier had gone missing at the UN Security Council meeting held earlier this week.

Such an occurrence was meant to be avoided with the heavy troop presence Israel has as it operates in the heavily populated areas of Gaza's north.

But it also reflects another development, that Hamas and other militant groups are operating in a manner more identified with military tactics as opposed to a vigilante group.

With both US Secretary of State John Kerry and the UN's chief diplomat in the region the pressure is on to get a cease-fire in place.

But things seem to be increasing at this hour, and the fact is the Israel's stated goals of destroying tunnels and stopping the rocket fire have not been met.

Hamas will be slow to accept a proposal, because they won't see their expectations met and, they appear to have the current 'roaring' rights in causing a sizable death toll amongst Israeli soldiers while being out gunned and technically deficient - and in obtaining the one Israeli soldier.

But we should not forget that this has come at an awful price of human and physical destruction to the people of Gaza with over 600 dead and nearly 4000 wounded.

Israel too suffers, although not to the same toll. However with the announcement of a temporary suspension of a limited number of civilian aircraft flying into the country, there may be a window of opportunity to take deliberate steps towards heading the call to stop and talk.

We can pray that God may open the eyes of leadership that they may see the pain and act to utilize their influence to stop hostilities.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Update Brother's Keeper

Hi Everybody,

On the 12th day of Operation Brother's Keeper (the code name given for the Israeli Defense Force operation to locate three abducted youths), a military source related to the arrest of 57 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails who had been released in the Gilad Shalit deal said that they will be tried.

The justification for the arrests was that, in Israel's view, the men had been "engaged in terrorism since then and were not arrested in connection with abduction of the youths" and, "several of those released in the Shalit deal who have been arrested were planning additional abductions".

Security forces offered no evidence to their claims in the arrests – but all the men are associated with Hamas.

Hamas's leadership has now spoken up about what is happening both to their group and the missing teens.

They said that the Unity Deal with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas led Hamas to lower its profile regarding the abduction of the Israeli youths.

Regarding Hamas and those young Jewish men kidnapped, Khaled Mashal said; "I would be proud if Hamas members are the abductors but I have no information" as he waved pictures of the youths.

These are his first comments on the abduction.

The head of Hamas's political office refused to confirm or deny that Hamas was behind the action.

Mashal did expresses support for his groups "the struggle to free our prisoners".

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has said that he has proof that Hamas was behind the kidnapping and will reveal that to the world soon.

Mr. Netanyahu also backtracked on his critical statements against President Abbas saying that he appreciated the Palestinian leaders words regarding the release of the teens.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

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