Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure.’ Psalm 122:6 NIV
A week ago I started a blog post titled “Murders mar Sukkot holiday”. I never finished it. I could give all sorts of excuses: tired, distracted, news exhaustion, lack of clarity.
Part of me hoped it would all pass. Instead the tension has increased as lone-wolf knife attacks have continued daily.
It started when Muslims started stockpiling rocks and fireworks in the al-Aqsa mosque with which to “greet” Jews visiting the Temple Mount. Police raided the mount to clear the threat. This preemptive action was reported by Arab media as an assault and desecration of a Muslim holy place.
The first per-emptive raid was Sept. 13, the day before the Jewish New Year. The second one was Sept. 28, the morning after the blood moon eclipse and the first day of Sukkot. That clash I heard from the Mount of Olives, where I’d been photographing the eclipse. I was about to descend the mount when I heard the pop-pop-pop of fireworks and stun grenades.
These efforts to keep the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary safe for tourists have been reported in Muslim media as Israeli attempts to take back the site. This coupled with photos and videos of Israeli police manhandling unruly Muslims, including women, has motivated angry individuals to attack outwardly religious Jews and Israeli security officers with knives. Some have posted their intent on social media and have cited defending al-Aqsa (the mosque on the mount) as their motivation.
Media sources report that there seems to be no particular terrorist organization behind the attacks. While Hamas and others are praising and encouraging the attacks, the wave seems to be a grassroots movement.
The whole affair makes me angry. Some of the attackers have been teenage boys and women. The first deadly knife attack was committed by a 19-year-old law student. One of the attacks Sunday was by a 16-year-old boy.
Avi Issacharoff of the Times of Israel writes: “The events of the last few days show a deeply alarming trend: Three or more Palestinians, mostly East Jerusalemites, are daily attacking Israelis — knowing that they are likely to die in the attempt. These are a kind of suicide attacks. They are far less devastating than the bus and restaurant and market bombings of the Second Intifada, but they are motivated by the assailants’ desire to become martyrs.”
We would call them suicide-by-cop.
It would be so easy to cynically say that these murder-suicides, if you will, are orchestrated to make Israel look bad. There are photos and videos of nearly all the attacks because of cell phones and security cameras.
Two things. There is a hopelessness that drives people to do mad things. I’m not here to debate whether the Israeli or the Palestinian leadership is to blame for the current state of affairs. I’m saying people are hurting.
A 19-year-old law students decides taking a knife and killing a Jewish family going to pray is the way to go? Really? I ache with anger and frustration.
Also, we can never discount the spiritual. Islam values death over life. A year of ISIS’ march through Iraq and Syria should have taught the world that by now.
It’s not just hopelessness that drives these attacks but a spirit of hate. It is a spirit that says “Death is the only way out of this conflict, and it’s either you or me. Heck let’s make it both.”
And so we’re back to Paul’s exhortation:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 ESV
So please pray that the chains of the Deceiver would be broken off of these young people. They do not see that they are fighting a battle for the Father of Lies.
How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:12-14 NIV
And pray for all the peoples trying to live in peace – Jew, Christian, Muslim, everybody in between. Most people are trying to just live their lives. It’s hard in an atmosphere where suddenly police are running in your direction and you’re not sure why. (Video by Bridges for Peace.)
The following articles should give you direction on how to pray.
- Israel and the Palestinians slide deeper into conflict (Times of Israel)
- Analysis: Israel is one major terror attack away from Operation Defensive Shield 2 (JPost)
- Moving the match away from the powder keg (Times of Israel)
- New York Times: No Israeli Victims of Palestinian Terrorism (Front Page)
- Why is the world ignoring a wave of terror in Israel? (The Telegraph)