For the past eight days, millions of Israelis have spent nights in bomb shelters, stairwells and saferooms as terrorists from the Gaza Strip continue to fire rockets into Israel. The frequency of attacks has started to diminish, but still the fighting continues. The Israel Defense Forces (idf) has continued to hit targets inside Gaza, doing all it can to degrade the ability of Hamas, the Iranian proxy that has ruled the enclave for over a decade.
So far, 12 people have died inside Israel because of the rocket attacks. This is remarkable considering Hamas has fired over 4,000 projectiles into Israel. About 90 percent of those are destroyed midflight by Israel’s air defense system.
Inside Gaza, Israel has systematically targeted Hamas and Palestinian commanders, as well as terrorist infrastructure. This includes the underground tunneling system that Hamas created to store weapons and to transit Gaza undetected. Israel has already destroyed over 100 kilometers of the tunnels, but that’s only about 10 percent of the total subterranean passages.
All the while, international pressure increases for Israel to work toward a ceasefire with Hamas. Inevitably, a ceasefire of the rocket barrage and Israeli attacks will likely come.
However, while international media is focused on the coverage of Israel’s attacks inside the Gaza Strip, a far more significant story is being missed. This story might not have the impact of exploding rockets and wailing sirens, but its ramifications for Israel are far more dire.
Hamas has used this war to successfully take over the leadership of the Palestinian street.
This is a huge change that Israeli commentators are documenting in real time. The Times of Israel headlined, “In Rocket War ‘for Al-Aqsa,’ Hamas Has Already Won the Palestinian Leadership” on May 13. On May 17, the Jerusalem Post headlined, “Israel Is Winning Battles, Hamas Is Winning the War.” Then today, May 18, Arab affairs analyst Shimrit Meir told Channel 12 in Israel that through the battle, Hamas has unified the Palestinian citizens of Israel together with Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem into a single entity, protesting as one, acting as one.
Hamas has picked this current fight with Israel and controlled the narrative from the beginning in order to wrest control of Palestinian leadership from Fatah, which has led the Palestinian Authority for decades.
And as it does, Hamas’ paymaster Iran becomes the de facto leader of the Palestinians.
The connection between Iran and Hamas is well established. In a video posted as recently as last week by MEMRI, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Asghar Emami said: “Iran does not need to send missiles or planes to attack Israel, through the Resistance Axis we can plough Israeli cities with mortars. When we want American concessions, we can tighten our grip around Israel’s throat.”
This Iranian takeover has been felt on the streets of Israel where riotous Israeli Arabs (citizens of the State of Israel) have joined the Hamas-led struggle to an unprecedented degree. Times of Israel writer Haviv Rettig Gur described the violence:
While rockets rained down from Gaza on Lod, Ramle and Beersheba, gangs of young Arab men, often brandishing Palestinian flags and Hamas emblems began systematically assaulting Jewish passersby, vehicles and even homes. Synagogues and shops were torched, cars were set on fire, rock-throwing “ambushes” targeted Jewish drivers on highways in the south. A bus transporting idf soldiers in the north found itself pelted with large stones, forcing the soldiers to disembark and fire warning shots over the assailants’ heads. Roving bands of vandals cut power lines to apartment buildings in majority-Jewish neighborhoods, leaving families in the dark.
All of this violence was perpetrated by Israeli Arabs, not the usual offenders from the territories. Typically, Hamas finds support from inside the territories of Gaza and the West Bank, leaving Israeli Arabs out of the uprising. But not anymore. Now Hamas has positioned itself as the defender of all Arabs, including those inside the State of Israel.
Yesterday, Al-Monitor documented Hamas’s shift in position, including an exclusive interview with Hamas’s representative in Iran, Khaled al-Qaddumi. Hamas has “applied a strategic shift in the concept of resistance, from defending Gaza against Israeli attacks to defending all Palestinians living in historical Palestine,” Qaddumi announced. As part of this change, Qaddumi told Al-Monitor, Hamas “will not allow Israeli occupation forces to attack civilian targets in al-Quds.”
The shift of control was also announced by a jubilant Ismail Haniya, the head of Hamas, from Doha, on May 15:
Today, the geographic barriers within historic Palestine have been removed. Today, Palestine is waging an intifada from Rosh HaNikra [in northern Israel] to Umm al-Rashrash [in southern Israel]. … Yes, they have thought that 70 years or more could kill the spirit of belonging of our people within the land occupied in 1948. They thought that our people there [Israeli Arabs] would lose their identity and assimilate in the Zionist entity. They thought they would forget their identity and sense of belonging. But today, our people within the 1948 borders are the ones defending the al-Aqsa Mosque. They are the ones waging an intifada against the occupier and the settlers. … The theory of coexistence between the two peoples within the 1948 borders—the theory they have been cultivating for 70 years—is being trampled underfoot by our sons and our people.
It is worth watching the below video translated by memri, as it shows how Hamas is not interested and never will be interested in coexistence with Israel.
What led to this massive shift among many Israeli Arabs to accept Hamas’s leadership and rise up against Israel is still to be determined. But it was likely due, in part, to Hamas’s decision to include defending the non-paying Arab residents of Jewish-owned properties in Sheik Jarrah.
In the lead-up to the war, the leader of the Hamas military wing announced that his group would “not stand idly by in the face attacks on the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.” Such a threat was unusual for Hamas, and it highlighted this shift from defending al Aqsa to defending the rights of Palestinian Arabs in East Jerusalem itself.
Certainly, other causes for the shift will come to light over the coming weeks. Yet the reality of a more unified Palestinian street behind Hamas poses a huge internal threat to Israel. In truth, the majority of Israeli Arabs are probably quite terrified of Hamas’s intrusions into their neighborhoods. Still, many Israeli-Arab youths are starting to look to Hamas for leadership. Videos of Hamas flags flying through central Israel are spreading on social media. Hamas is bound to get more followers.
As Hamas becomes more powerful on the streets of Israel, it is not a stretch to say that Iran is now leading the Palestinian march for liberation from Israel. With this shift, Israel faces something it has long feared.
Not only is Iran Israel’s greatest external threat to its survival, Iran is now Israel’s greatest internal threat as well.
Israel’s current leadership understands exactly what Iran is up to. This is why the day after Hamas rained 130 rockets on Tel Aviv in the space of five minutes, instead of visiting Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was meeting with city leaders throughout Israel with large populations of Israeli Arabs. Israel can defend itself from Hamas rockets quite well, but a Hamas-inspired civil war inside Israel would be almost impossible to contain.
As we wrote last week, now is the time that we should all watch events in Jerusalem!
We at Watch Jerusalem will be watching for the reaction from the United States’ Biden administration to Hamas’s rise in power. It’s notable that Joe Biden’s representative, Hady Amr, is currently in Israel meeting with Palestinian officials. In 2019, Amr wrote that Hamas ought to be included in peace talks with Israel. If the Biden administration is actively empowering Iran through renewed nuclear negotiations, it follows that they would seek to empower Hamas as well.
The Biden administration is fully aware that support for Iran also means support for Hamas.
As Watch Jerusalem editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote four weeks ago, “[Former President Barack] Obama’s main foreign-policy aim was to align America with Iran—Israel’s enemy and the world’s number one terrorist-sponsoring nation! Iran’s main goal is to bring America down and to wipe Judah off the map! … And now, that foreign policy is back! Biden is empowering Iran so it may soon obtain nuclear weapons. I am certain we will have more Palestinian terrorist attacks now because of who is in charge.” This forecast, barely a month old, is clearly being fulfilled right now.
We are also watching for a far longer forecast relating to Hamas’s rise to power to be fulfilled.
For over two decades, Mr. Flurry has urged our readers to pay attention to the rift between Jerusalem’s Arab and Jewish populations. Specifically, Mr. Flurry forecast that Hamas would far outstrip Fatah’s power and actually lead the Palestinians to make a play for control of East Jerusalem. He based this forecast on a critical prophecy for the latter days found in the biblical book of Zechariah.
The Prophet Zechariah had a role in rebuilding Jerusalem after the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity in the sixth century b.c.e., and yet he wrote that Jerusalem would be destroyed once again. This was an unpopular message, and some believe it got him killed by his own people.
However, Zechariah wasn’t writing about a takeover that was to happen in his time, nor was he writing about the fall of Jerusalem in 70 c.e. He was writing about the time that we are living in right now.
Zechariah 14:1-2 read, “Behold, a day of the Lord cometh, When thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; And the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, And the women ravished; And half of the city shall go forth into captivity, But the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (Jewish Publication Society).
As Mr. Flurry has explained, in these two verses Zechariah provides a big overview of events leading to the coming of the Messiah There are three phases to this crisis revolving around Jerusalem. Zechariah starts at the Day of the Lord, the third phase, and works his way backward chronologically. The second phase, all of the city being taken, is elsewhere called the time of Jacob’s trouble, a period when all of biblical Israel, not just the nation of Judah called Israel today, will be attacked.
But notice how this whole procession of events leading to the Messiah’s coming begins.
The first phase is half of Jerusalem going into captivity; this suggests some violence in the process. Based on this prophecy, Mr. Flurry has forecast that East Jerusalem will fall under Arab control as a direct precursor to Messiah’s arrival on Earth. In 2006, Mr. Flurry wrote, “Today the Arabs live in roughly one half of Jerusalem. They just don’t control it—yet. … Looking at the ongoing violence in Jerusalem today—the absolute inability of the involved parties to solve things by peaceful means—we can easily see how one half of Jerusalem shall be taken captive in the very near future. The present violence is an embryo that is about to grow into much greater violence.”
Now in 2021, with a resurgent Hamas dominating the Palestinian street, are we close to seeing half of Jerusalem fall? When it happens, it also means that the countdown to the coming of the Messiah has begun.
As we encouraged you last week, now is the time to understand the biblical prophecies set to take place in Jerusalem. For a complete understanding of what half of Jerusalem’s fall means for the future of the city, as well as what Zechariah prophesied next, please read Gerald Flurry’s free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy.