Israel at War Update with Jim Showers
When Hamas terrorists killed and wounded thousands of Israelis and launched thousands of missiles into the Jewish state, they forced Israel into a brutal war. To help you grapple with Israel’s war with Hamas, The Friends of Israel (FOI) Executive Director Jim Showers shares how our FOI workers are doing in Israel, how Hamas’s attack caught Israel by surprise, and how we should think of this war in light of the end-times.
Then, Chris gives a clear update on what has happened in Israel this week, sharing what is truly happening on the ground level, which is not often reported. He discusses how Israel has encouraged Gazans to flee for their safety while Hamas has attempted to block them from leaving, essentially holding them hostage as human shields against Israel. It appears Hamas has even bombed evacuation routes to frame Israel. But Israel will be vindicated as it battles terrorism! This week’s show will help you grasp the reality of the war and the challenges Israel must overcome in the coming days.
If you feel called to help Israel find hope in these dark times, you can help save lives with a gift by visiting foi.org/standwithisrael. Thank you for your faithful support for Israel and the Jewish people.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. In light of recent events, we are once again preempting our scheduled programming.
Chris Katulka: Steve, last week I had a chance to interview Dr. Jim Showers, the president and executive director of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. And Steve, you had a chance to sit down with him again, and today you're going to hear Steve's interview with Jim and they're going to discuss how our colleagues at The Friends of Israel are doing right now, how Israel was surprised attacked by Hamas, and also as Christians how should we think about these events in Israel in light of biblical prophecy?
Now, if you're sitting there wondering, how do I help Israel during this time? How can I tangibly help them? Well, number one, you can pray for Israel. And number two, you can give to help support the people of Israel during this difficult time by going to foi.org/standwithisrael. Again, that's foi.org/standwithisrael. We'll have more information in a moment on where your gifts will go to help support Israel and the Jewish people.
Steve Conover: But first in the news, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from Minnesota was widely denounced this weekend, for posting a picture of children killed in a 2013 Syrian chemical weapons attack with a headline “Child Genocide in Palestine.” Her post on X was in response to Israel's war in Gaza, this after Hamas' surprise attack, killing more than 1400 Israelis on October 7th.
Chris Katulka: Well, Steve, here's my take, and I find this so sad. What's going to happen to the innocent in Israel and Gaza is absolutely horrible, but Representative Omar only spreads lies and propaganda about Israel. She isn't helping the cause for peace. She's only promoting Hamas' agenda, which is to shame Israel.
Steve Conover: Hello, I'm Steve Conover, executive vice president and VP of Media Ministries here at The Friends of Israel. This is a conversation with our executive director, Dr. Jim Showers. It's good to see you, Jim.
Jim Showers: Hello, Steve.
Steve Conover: First things first, before we get into things. We have a number of FOI family, ministry partners, friends in Israel. How are they doing?
Jim Showers: It was not easy talking to them because as things unfolded Saturday, there's a shock that set in. People couldn't believe what they were hearing. And then as the day went on and reports were coming out and they were seeing how graphic this was, how barbaric it was, it became even more of a shock. It's much like what America went through on September 11th when everybody couldn't believe what they were seeing on TV. And even after you'd seen it replayed several times, it still didn't sink in that this was really what happened. And so that's the initial reaction. And for our people in Israel, our first concern was were they okay? Thank the Lord that they were. Both our staff there and our friends and associates in Israel.
And so the greatest thing they've been asking for is prayer, of course, for the country. And what we're seeing in Israel is they've called up the reserves. They've called up 300,000 out of their reserves. So Israel works with a military of, let's say approximately 150,000, something like that, of active soldiers, but they always have reserves. So once you finish your active duty, everybody's required to serve in Israel when they graduate from high school. But once they complete their active duty, then they're in the reserves until around age 40.
And so several of our staff in Israel have had their children called up to active duty. One of them is actually a staff member. Others are just children of our staff, and some of them are on the front lines right now. So they have families, they have wives and children of their own. So we're praying for them. We're praying for the peace of Jerusalem and the peace of Israel. We're praying for the IDF, we're praying for the leadership of Israel, and that's I think the number one thing we can do right now to help them.
Steve Conover: Yeah, Israel at war. Hamas is not a new enemy. Israel has been on top, typically on top of everything happening coming from Hamas. The intelligence community always seems to be prepared for these big events, and we often hear of things being thwarted beforehand of a big event. What was different this time?
Jim Showers: Well, many things, but the number one thing is the surprise, the intelligence seemed to drop the ball. That's both Israeli intelligence and American intelligence because America didn't see this coming either. And America and the US have great intelligence networks, particularly we think of Israel as being the best at intelligence. So you have to stop and say, where did it go wrong? Again, I use the example a few seconds ago of September 11th in America, there were intelligence signals, the intelligence communities, there were warning signs, there were signals that something big was coming. And they missed them because they couldn't perceive of anybody doing what happened on that day. And I think the similar thing happened in Israel, as we continue to read about all that went on, not just sincerity, but leading up to it.
Hamas, I'm hearing Hamas had been practicing in Gaza, their assault. And so it was observed by Israel but not taken seriously. If you remember in the last couple of weeks there was talk about the Palestinians bringing people to the border like they did a couple years ago to try and breach the border. And Israel unfortunately had to shoot several people to keep them from cutting holes in the fence. And so they seemed to misread the intelligence that led them to not understand that an imminent threat was at hand.
This is very similar to the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago when Israel misread the intelligence and didn't really see the war coming, or at least coming as quickly as it did. But there's a huge difference in what happened over the weekend, what happened last Saturday, and what's happened in the past with Hamas. In the past, Hamas would launch rockets. They had the balloons with the incendiary devices on them, so they were a nuisance, but they were never able to come across the border in the way that they did this time. This was so well coordinated and so well executed that we know this wasn't just Hamas. And we knew from the beginning just that Iran had its fingerprints all over this.
And yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that there was a meeting a week ago Monday in Beirut with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, at which time Hamas got the permission to go forward with this and launch this attack. So Iran has funded it. They helped plan it, and they gave the permission to do it. So Hamas is a proxy of Iran, and they don't do anything without Iran's permission because Iran has invested so much in providing them weapons and in training and military strategy. For example, they had drones, and they used the drones, one of the first things the drones did was take out the observation posts that Israel has.
So Israel, they use balloons that are about 500 feet in the air attached to a tower, and on those balloons are cameras that can look into Gaza. So these balloons are along the border of Gaza, and the drones struck those towers and disabled Israel's eyes into Gaza. So they were able to breach the fence. And because the IDF wasn't expecting attack, and because this happened on Shabbat, and even further, because this happened at the end of Sukkot, so it was the end of a very important holiday, the holiday of Tabernacles, everybody was expecting a lazy easy Saturday, and even the military goes home on the weekends.
So we are learning now, the initial report said there was a couple hundred Hamas terrorists that came across the border. The number now is over 1500. I just read today 1500 of the terrorists were killed and not all the terrorists were killed. So my guess is it's something like a couple thousand or more that poured into Israel. And that makes sense because 22 communities were attacked and they were overwhelmed. So one of the ways they were able to do so much damage is there were so many that came that those who resisted could only resist for a while before they were killed or neutralized.
So the other thing that really makes it so shocking, Steve, is just, it's the depravity, it's the inhumanity of what they did. They didn't just kill innocent people, which they did. They killed women and children and babies and elderly, people who can't fight back, but they also disfigured bodies. They raped women. I mean, it was just, just horrible. So the count now is approaching a thousand dead, and I expect it'll probably go a little higher than that because they're still discovering bodies three days later. It took the IDF a good two days to get control of their side of the border. They now supposedly have control. And I think the next thing we'll see is offensive, the Israel Defense Forces will launch an offensive into Gaza.
We are told over 100, I've heard numbers as high as 200 hostages that they took into Gaza. But the thing is, Israel just can't respond like they did in the past. Typically, and this is what makes it a little different too, typically in the past we would see missiles fired for a few days, maybe two or three weeks, Israel responding with their missiles, and then eventually it'd be a ceasefire and things would settle down. This time due to the brutalness and the loss of life that incurred, I don't see how Israel can just settle for a ceasefire. They need to neutralize Hamas, do whatever is necessary to make sure Hamas can never do this again.
And what we're seeing is for years we've had the Oslo Accords that called for a two state solution and trading land for peace. And we're seeing why that does not work. As one journalist put it, ‘this is the end of land for peace. This is the end of the two state solution.’
Steve Conover: How should we think about this event in the light of what we know about the end times?
Jim Showers: Great question. And I understand why people are calling and asking about that. So first of all, we're not in the end times. We know that. That was the mistake the Thessalonians made in thinking they were in the end times because they were seeing such difficulties in life. They were suffering so much. And Paul made it very clear, no, we are not appointed to go through the wrath that will come during the end times. So we're not in the end times.
But then how does this relate to the end times? Well, we have to be careful we don't speculate. What we do know is that there is troubling days ahead for the world in the end times, as God is pouring his wrath out upon mankind for their rejection of him and for the way they mistreat Israel. We also know that before that happens, the church will leave this world, and that's a doctrine called the rapture, that Paul teaches about and others.
And so far the church hasn't been taken out of the world. So that means we're not in, that's Paul's message in the Book of Second Thessalonians. But at the same time, we also know that when the end times comes, there will be a world leader that will come onto the scene that will make a covenant with Israel, according to Daniel 9:27, that covenant will promise to provide protection and security for Israel.
So the things we're seeing going on in the Middle East and beginning, for example, in more recent times with the Abraham Accords and the recent negotiations with Saudi Arabia, and now this sudden outbreak of violence, all may be events that will lead or will be maybe a setup, setting the stage kind of events, but at the same time, it could be a long ways off. Nobody knows. When we talk about the end of the age, we're talking about the end of this period of human history in which mankind's been under the curse.
And that's what Israel was looking for when Jesus came the first time, a messiah who would usher in the kingdom to Israel. If you remember when Jesus met with his disciples on the day he ascended from the Mount of Olives, that's the number one question on their mind, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And Jesus' response was, "Don't worry about the timing, nobody knows that time except my Father, get busy and build my church." And that's exactly what they did.
But we know that was the question they asked Jesus on the way out of Jerusalem, the last time he was at the temple. What is the sign of your coming in the end of this age? That's all theology, that's all understanding that they got out of studying the prophets and what God revealed that there is an end coming to this age of curse. That's a wonderfully good promise, a good thing to look forward to.
But the days leading up to that are referred to as days when God will pour out his wrath. When people here on earth, it'll be a difficult time to live. And what we've seen today, if that bothers us and it should, things are going to get worse. And so this is why we encourage everyone to really examine Jesus. Take a look at him. If you don't know him as your personal savior, you do not want to put that off. The Bible is clear. God promised in the older testament that he would bring a son, a male child who would defeat Satan. And as that's developed in the Old Testament, Jesus comes then in the New Testament and he claims to be the Son of God and the Son of man and the one who came to fulfill the prophecies about him.
And so if that's all true, and of course you and I know it's true, then people need to believe that Jesus is the one God promised, the one who died to save their sins. The Bible's very clear that blood was God's required payment to cover sin. And in the Old Testament, Israel used to sacrifice animals, but the animals were only covered past sins, not future sins. If they were good enough to cover future sins, they'd only have to have ever done it once, but they had to repeat those sacrifices to cover sins. When Jesus came, because he was related to you and I through Adam, he was a son of Adam, as you and I are, the first human being that God created, and because he was related to Adam, he could take our place and pay the price for our sins, the blood that God demanded for sin.
And by believing in him, and that's all it takes is to believe He is the one God promised who died for our sins, then we receive life everlasting. It restores man's relationship with God when they put their faith in God's way of salvation. We cannot earn our salvation, we know that . We can be as good as our hearts will let us be, and that's not going to be sufficient because that ignores that we're also sinners and it's the sin that condemns us, not our good works. And so our desire would be to see everybody would come to understand that Jesus is the one and only way to the Father.
Steve Conover: Amen. Great insights, Jim. As things develop in Israel and the Middle East, I might ask you to do this again.
Jim Showers: Oh, I'd love to. Yeah.
Steve Conover: I appreciate your time. Thank you.
Jim Showers: Thank you, Steve.
Steve Conover: You may be wondering what you can do for Israel at this critical time. If you want to stand with Israel and bring comfort to the Jewish people, you can donate at foi.org/standwithisrael.
Chris Katulka: Steve, that was a fantastic interview with Jim Showers. Now, listen, you can actually watch the full interview by going to foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org. Steve, thanks so much for doing that. Now, listen, if you're wondering again, how can I support Israel during this time? Well, you can be praying for the peace of Jerusalem. But you can also go to our website, foi.org/standwithisrael. If you want to help Israel during this urgent time, which means helping to provide bomb shelters in sensitive locations along the Gaza border or the border with Lebanon, again, go to foi.org/standwithisrael. If you would like to support Magen David Adom, which is Israel's Red Cross that provides medical treatment during these emergency times, again, you can go to foi.org/standwithisrael.
The Friends of Israel has been standing with Israel since 1938. We were actually founded out of the Holocaust. We've been helping Jewish people in their darkest moments since 1938. So again, if you'd like to be a part of the Ministry of Friends of Israel, reaching out to the people of Israel, the Jewish people, and all the Israelis who are suffering during this time, to show them love and concern, go to foi.org/standwithisrael.
Now, I want to give our listeners up-to-date information on the war between Israel and Hamas. This information is relevant to the day we recorded this program. Since the attack on October 7th, at least 1400 Israelis have died and 3,400 others have been injured according to Israeli authorities. Israel continues to face a barrage of rocket attacks from Hamas and Gaza, and also from Hezbollah in the north on the Lebanese border. The Israeli Air Force reports that 6,000 bombs have been dropped on Hamas targets in Gaza. And there are reports actually that the Lebanese military has destroyed 20 different rocket launch sites that Hezbollah was using to attack Israel from southern Lebanon.
Iran's foreign minister suggested to reporters that Hezbollah in the north could become involved in the war amid Israel's ongoing retaliatory strikes in Gaza. Of course, this has Israel on high alert, knowing this could become a war on two fronts, one in the south and one in the north. Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Israeli Defense Force troops on the Gaza border asking them, "Are you ready for the next stage? Because “the next stage is coming."
That next stage is believed to be the ground defensive in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu said this while touring Kibbutz Be'eri and Kfar Aza, Israeli towns that were hit the hardest during Hamas' surprise attack. The IDF has warned all residents of Gaza City to evacuate their homes, urging them to move south for their protection and settle in the area south of Gaza River. However, Hamas has attempted to block Palestinians from evacuating the Northern Gaza Strip, placing roadblocks on evacuation routes that were designated by the IDF.
As Palestinians were escaping, Gaza Media shared a video claiming to show an Israeli airstrike hitting one of the evacuation routes. Although a number of open source intelligence accounts which analyzed the footage noted that the explosion appeared to originate from a van on the ground since the video showed no missile visible at any point in the footage. This means Hamas targeted its own people in a stunt to cast blame on Israel.
US Secretary State Antony Blinken said the American government is supporting Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from Hamas terrorists, and that American officials are working to help Gaza civilians with evacuation efforts and humanitarian assistance. Israel has closed its two border crossings with Gaza, and currently Egypt has the Rafah border crossing closed as well. Many are hoping Egypt opens the border to release the pressure of nearly a million Palestinians migrating to Southern Gaza.
Monday, October 16th, the Knesset, Israel's parliament opened its winter session with a moment of silence for the Israelis murdered in Hamas' attack. Netanyahu spoke highlighting that Israel's goal is a victory against Hamas. He said, "There are many questions about this catastrophe that happened 10 days ago. We will investigate it to the end, and we have already begun to utilize our lessons, but for now, we are focused on one goal, uniting the forces and storming onto victory." Netanyahu continued, "I have a message also for Iran and Hezbollah." He said, "Don't repeat the mistake you made before because today the price you pay will be even heavier." Well, here's my take. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Steve Conover: Thank you so much for joining us for today's episode of The Friends of Israel Today. We are so grateful for those of you that have reached out to us at this time, to pray for us and with us, for God's Chosen People. Plan to be with us again next week, we will have more information on what's happening in Israel.
Chris Katulka: Steve, for our listeners, this is a dark time for Israel. But for our listeners, you can be a shining beacon of hope and encouragement to God's chosen people by supporting our relief efforts at foi.org/standwithisrael.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, edited by Jeremy Strong, who also composed and performs our theme music. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. And I'll give you one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
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