“Hamas officials believe there is a 95% probability that a war will break out between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip in the coming days” (Jewish Press, February 4, 2018). Palestinian leaders view current Israeli military exercises in southern Israel as a prelude to invasion. Israeli sources also feel war may be imminent, due to “provocations” emanating from Gaza.
Last weekend, Israel downed a suspected Iranian drone in what they say was Israeli airspace. Israel retaliated by striking Iranian targets in Syria—resulting in the destruction of an Israeli F-16 amid Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Israel again retaliated against Iranian targets close to Damascus (The Guardian, February 12, 2018). An Israeli general informed his troops last week, “We need to prepare ourselves operationally and intelligence-wise for the mounting threat…. The big test will be the test of war.” Experts expect continued exchanges between Israel, Syria and Iran.
Most experts agree that none of the parties—Israel, Iran and Syria—wants an all-out war. But, the increased military responses seen last weekend and the increasing volatility between Israel and the Palestinians have many in the region worried. The increasing tensions in the Middle East are likely not “the beginning of the end”; however, they are a symptom of the deep-seated mistrust and hatred between the peoples of the region—people that are in most cases descendants of Abraham. Tensions will continue to escalate in the Holy Land and likely draw in Europe and the papacy as peace-bringers. One expert noted that “Germany is the only actor in the Western world that has some practical experience in mediating informal agreements between Israel, Iran and Hezbollah” (Deutsche Welle, February 12, 2018). For more on the future of Jerusalem and the surrounding region, be sure to read or listen to our insightful booklet The Middle East in Prophecy.