Israelis prepare for war with gas masks

by Joel C. Rosenberg

August 24, 2012

New home front Defense Minister as Iran Nuclear Threat grows and Syria Implodes

Evidence continues to mount that Israeli leaders are seriously contemplating launching a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, possibly within days or weeks. Now Israelis are accelerating their preparations for war. The country has a new Minister of Home Front Security. Meanwhile, Israeli citizens are standing in long lines to get gas masks for themselves and their children, concerned as much about the implosion of Syria and the possible use of Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons as about Iran’s nuclear threat.

“‘The world has received yet more proof that Iran is “continuing to make accelerated progress toward achieving nuclear weapons,’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday in a meeting with US Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) during the latter’s tour of the Middle East,” reports the Times of Israel. “Netanyahu spoke in response to a New York Times report warning that nuclear inspectors would soon report that Iran has installed ‘hundreds of new centrifuges in recent months’ and may be ramping up nuclear fuel production. He said that Iran was making progress on its nuclear program ‘while totally ignoring international demands.’”

Latest headlines worth tracking:

Gog and Magog

After reading these two chapters in the Bible, do you think these events are on the horizon?

Ezekiel 38-39

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

A Prophecy Against Gog

1The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you.

“‘Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.

10 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. 11 You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people —all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. 12 I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.” 13 Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder? ”’

14 “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? 15 You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. 16 You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.

17 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. 18 This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord. 19 In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. 20 The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. 21 I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. 22 I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. 23 And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord. ’

39:1 “Son of man, prophesy against Gog and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.

“‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel. It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of.

“‘Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. 10 They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign Lord.

11 “‘On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel east toward the Sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog.

12 “‘For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. 13 All the people of the land will bury them, and the day I am glorified will be a memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign Lord.

14 “‘Men will be regularly employed to cleanse the land. Some will go throughout the land and, in addition to them, others will bury those that remain on the ground. At the end of the seven months they will begin their search. 15 As they go through the land and one of them sees a human bone, he will set up a marker beside it until the gravediggers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog. 16 (Also a town called Hamonah will be there.) And so they will cleanse the land.’

17 “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. 18 You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls—all of them fattened animals from Bashan. 19 At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. 20 At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,’ declares the Sovereign Lord.

21 “I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. 22 From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. 23 And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. 24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them.

25 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. 26 They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. 27 When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. 28 Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. 29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord. ”

Could Israel strike Iran in September/October?

Ahmadinejad calls for “annihilation” of Israel;

Netanyahu warns U.S. time is running out to stop Iran

 

>> Haaretz: Ex-Mossad chief said what should be clear to everyone – Israel has never been so close to attacking Iran

UPDATED: Twenty-two years ago today, Saddam Hussein stunned the world by invading Kuwait. The war erupted even though President George H.W. Bush’s administration assured Americans that Saddam was just “saber rattling.” Indeed, the American ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, had just left Baghdad to go on summer vacation. Mideast wars have a way of catching Washington by surprise and ruining vacations.

In this context,  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is once again calling for the annhilation of Israel. “Anyone who loves freedom and justice must strive for the  annihilation of the Zionist regime in order to pave the way for world  justice and freedom,” the Iranian leader said in a Ramadan speech. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, is being as forthright as he can be. War may be coming very soon. He told U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta yesterday that time is running out for the international community to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat. Yes, economic sanctions are seriously harming Iran’s economy — driving up prices, creating scarcity of certain products, etc — but Netanyahu is making clear that he doesn’t see the sanctions actually having any effect on changing Tehran’s feverish bid to build nuclear weapons. “However forceful our statements, they have not convinced Iran that we are serious about stopping them,” Netanyahu told reporters. “Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program.” What’s more, Netanyahu said, sanctions have “yet to move its nuclear program even a millimeter backwards.”

One sobering scenario to consider: Netanyahu may decide to strike Iran in September and/or October, prior to the national elections here in the U.S. Israel is awash with rumors of this possibility. Indeed, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy is telling reporters, “If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”

Why? Here’s the logic of an autumn strike:

  • If Mr. Netanyahu believes Israel has to hit Iran before Iran hides their nuclear program in impenetrable underground tunnels (possibly by the end of this year) then he may choose to launch the attack at a time when it’s most politically difficult for President Obama to oppose or undermine Israeli military action.
  • Support for Israeli security is becoming a key issue in the 2012 campaign between President Obama and Governor Romney, and Netanyahu may calculate that the President would feel compelled to do everything he could to help Israel this fall in order to win votes for November.
  • If Netanyahu does not strike this fall, and Mr. Obama wins re-election, Netanyahu has to consider the possibility that the White House would be even less inclined to support an Israeli strike next year. Indeed, Mr. Obama would not be facing another election and thus could, potentially, really turn the screws on Israel and take actions designed to block preemptive action.
  • If Netanyahu concludes that Governor Romney is going to win in November, and if he believes Romney would be more supportive of a preemptive strike, the Israeli PM might choose to delay such a first strike until early next year when the Romney administration could be more robust partners in such an action.

My point here is not to be partisan or to say these assessments or calculations are necessarily right or wise, per se. I’m simply noting some of the thinking I believe is going on in Jerusalem as Mr. Netanyahu and his war cabinet make final decisions. And keep in mind another serious dynamic: What if the Assad regime in Damascus collapses and the rebels — or terrorist groups like Hezbollah or al Qaeda — get their hands of Syria’s chemical weapons? Or what if Assad decides to use chemical weapons against the rebels? Or what if Assad decides to launch a suicidal attack on Israel in a desperate bid to unify his country against the Jews? Mounting instability in Syria is a very serious concern for Israel right now. It is also possible that we could be approaching the destruction of Damascus as foretold by the ancient Hebrew prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Does Bible Prophecy foretell the destruction of Damascus?

by Joel C. Rosenberg

June 28, 2012

 

Earlier this year, a prominent Member of Congress asked to meet with me in Washington, D.C. I thought the topic was going to be the possible coming war between Israel and Iran. Instead, the official asked, “What are your thoughts on Isaiah 17?” For much of the next hour, therefore, we discussed the coming judgment of Damascus according to Bible prophecy, and how this scenario could possibly unfold in the coming years in relation to other Bible prophecies and current geopolitical trends in the Middle East. Here is a brief summary of what I said.

There are actually two key Biblical prophecies that explain that at unspecified time in the future, the city of Damascus will be completely destroyed — judged by God — and will not be inhabited again.

* Isaiah 17:1-3 — “The oracle concerning Damascus. ‘Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city and will become a fallen ruin. The cities of  Aroer are forsaken; they will be for flocks to lie down in, and there will be  no one to frighten them. The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and sovereignty from Damascus….'”

* Jeremiah 49:23-27 — “Concerning Damascus. ‘Hamath andArpad are put to shame, for they have heard bad news; they are disheartened. There is anxiety by the sea, it cannot be calmed. Damascus has become helpless; she has turned away to flee, and panic has gripped her; distress and pangs have taken hold of her like a woman in childbirth. How the  city of praise has not been deserted, the town of My joy! Therefore, her young men will fall in her streets, and all the men of war will be silenced in that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts. ‘I will  set fire to the wall of Damascus, and it will devour the fortified towers of Ben-hadad.'”

These prophecies have not yet been fulfilled. Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth. It has been attacked, besieged, and conquered. But Damascus has never been completely destroyed and left uninhabited. Yet that is exactly what the Bible says will happen. The context of Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 are a series of End Times prophecies dealing with God’s judgments on Israel’s neighbors and enemies leading up to — and through — the Tribulation.

How exactly will Damascus be destroyed? When will exactly it be destroyed? What will that look like, and what will be the implications for the rest of Syria, for Israel and for the region?

Rebel gunmen storm Syrian TV station, killing 7; Assad: We are at ‘war’

(Sharon’s note: Isn’t it mind-blowing how Assad thinks?)

 

Rebel gunmen stormed Syria’s pro-government television station on Wednesday, killing at least seven employees just hours after President Bashar Assad declared that the country is at war.

The dawn attack on Al-Ikhbariya television’s offices was “one of the boldest attacks yet on a symbol of the authoritarian state,” Reuters said.

“I heard a small explosion then a huge explosion and gunmen ran in,” an employee of the station said, according to the news service. “They ransacked the offices and entirely destroyed the newsroom.”

[Slideshow: Gunmen attack TV station]

According to an Associated Press photographer, “five portable buildings used for offices and studios had collapsed, with blood on the floor and wooden partitions still on fire. Some walls had bullet holes.”

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi called the attack “a massacre against the freedom of the press.”

“We live in a real state of war from all angles,” Assad said in a speech broadcast on state television late Tuesday. “When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war.”

Turkey hardens military position after Syria downs jet

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 4:30 PM EDT, Tue June 26, 2012

CNN)– Turkey is changing its military rules of engagement and will now treat a military approach toward its borders by Syria as a potential threat that “will be dealt with accordingly,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.

The announcement is a significant escalation of rhetoric after Syria shot down a Turkish plane last week.

Erdogan criticized Syria harshly on Tuesday for shooting down the Turkish fighter jet, saying: “Even if the plane was in their airspace for a few seconds, that is no excuse to attack.”

“It was clear that this plane was not an aggressive plane. Still it was shot down,” he said.

Tensions grow between Syria, Turkey

Syria shoots down Turkish jet

War of words over downed jet

He said Syrian choppers have strayed into Turkish airspace five times in 2012. But, the Turks say, the government never escalated the situation despite the border violations. That could change under the new policy.

The shooting down of the Phantom F-4 jet on Friday raised even more tension between Turkey and Syria, two heavily armed regional powers.

Relations between the two neighbors have deteriorated during the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Erdogan has repeatedly called on al-Assad to step down.

Turkey has withdrawn its diplomats from Damascus. More than 30,000 Syrian refugees have spilled onto Turkish soil and Turkey is hosting Syria opposition groups.

NATO condemned the shoot-down “in the strongest terms,” Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the alliance met Tuesday at Turkey’s request. Both sides say the jet strayed into Syrian airspace, but Turkey says the incursion was accidental and quickly corrected.

Rasmussen refused to comment on what intelligence Turkey had presented to NATO about the incident at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. He called on Syria to “avoid such events in the future” and said he did not expect the situation to escalate.

NATO did not promise any action in response to the incident, and Turkey did not invoke the NATO article calling for collective defense of members, Rasmussen said.

The NATO consultations were held under Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s founding charter. The article allows any member to call for consultations “whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened,” the charter says.

France’s Foreign Ministry called the shootdown an “attack” on Tuesday and said it “constitutes a violation of international law.”

It’s a reminder, the ministry said, that the regime “is threatening international peace and security. It is consistent with the regime’s escalating violence against its own population.”

Alexander Lukashevich, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official representative, expressed Moscow’s concern on Tuesday.

“In our opinion, it is important that the incident not be seen as a provocation or a deliberate action that could lead toward destabilizing the situation,” he said.

CIA and the Syrian opposition

Former U.S. soldier aids Syria’s wounded

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States commends Turkey for its measured response and stands with the government and the other NATO allies. Washington plans to work with Turkey and others to hold the al-Assad regime accountable and to pursue a democratic transition in Syria, he said.

Carney added that the regime’s continued use of airpower reflects al-Assad’s desperate attempt to maintain control.

Security Clearance: Can Turkey force U.S., NATO to attack Syria?

The United States and many other countries have been vocally opposed to military intervention in Syria and are unlikely to encourage Turkey to press the issue. After Syrian troops shelled refugees on the Turkish side of the border earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made clear that the bar is high for Turkey to claim the need for a collective self-defense.

Syria raised the stakes Monday in the war of words over the incident.

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the plane was shot down in Syrian airspace, disputing Turkey’s claim that it was downed over international waters after briefly straying into Syrian airspace by mistake.

“What happened was a violation of Syrian airspace. Even Turkey says Syrian sovereignty was violated. Regardless of whether it was a training mission, a reconnaissance mission, it was a violation,” Makdissi said.

He insisted that Syria was the wronged party, not Turkey.

Also Monday, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry told CNN that Syria fired Friday on a second Turkish plane that was part of a search-and-rescue mission sent in after the jet was shot down. The plane, which entered Syrian airspace in search of the jet, was not hit, said Selcuk Unal.

“There was no injury, nobody was harmed. But that plane immediately returned to Turkish airspace. And through military diplomatic channels we informed them: ‘What’s going on?’ ” Unal said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Sunday that it considered the shooting to be a hostile act. Turkey delivered the message in a diplomatic note to the Syrian consulate in Istanbul, Unal told CNN.

In addition to NATO, Turkey also submitted a letter about the incident to the U.N. Security Council. The country made no request for action, but outlined its version of events.

“This attack at the international airspace, causing possible loss of two Turkish pilots, is a hostile act by the Syrian authorities against Turkey’s national security. Thus, we strongly condemn it,” read the letter, dated Sunday.

It identified the downed plane as a Turkish RF-4 reconnaissance aircraft, a version of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. It was flying alone, without arms, in international airspace when it was shot down, the letter read.

Turkish search-and-rescue teams found the wreckage of the jet in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday, about 1,300 meters (4,260 feet) underwater, Foreign Ministry spokesman Unal said.

Report: 33 Syrian army members defect to Turkey

Tension between Syria and Turkey escalated sharply in the 1990s over Kurdish militancy.

Turkey was angry that the Syrian regime harbored Kurdish militant Abdullah Ocalan.

Ocalan founded the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK. The group, regarded as a terrorist organization by Turkey and the United States, has been fighting the Turkish government for Kurdish autonomy.

Syria eventually expelled Ocalan and the hostility eased. Syrian-Turkish political and economic ties grew after Erdogan became prime minister in 2003. But over the last year, Erdogan’s government grew disgusted with the al-Assad regime over the government’s brutal crackdown against Syrian citizens during the uprising.

Some observers believe Syria is now supporting the PKK.

CNN’s Ivan Watson and journalist Gül Tüysüz contributed to this report.

Map of Middle East Countries Involved in the War of Gog and Magog

(Note: These maps are significant as we study  the “War of Gog and Magog”, based on the book of Ezekiel,  indicating the countries of present day Russia, Persia (present day Iran), Cush (present day Sudan), Gomer (present day Turkey), Beth Togarmah (present day countries where turkish-speaking people  spread out from Turkey and settled in  Causasus and the areas of Central Asia, and Put (present day Libya and Algeria.)