Teen deaths exchanged, tensions escalate

Panoramic view of Israel's West Gate. (Image courtesy sheepdog85 via Wikimedia Commons)

Panoramic view of Israel’s West Gate.
(Image courtesy sheepdog85 via Wikimedia Commons)

UPDATE: Israel mobilized troops around the Gaza Strip on Thursday after Palestinian militants fired some 30 rockets at southern Israel over 24 hours, two of which hit homes in the border town of Sderot, causing property damage but no injuries.

Please keep the innocent people of this region in your prayers!

Israel (MNN) — As teen deaths are exchanged between Israel and the Palestinian territories, tensions and mortar fire skyrocket.

The bodies of three Israeli teens abducted from the West Bank were discovered Monday, following two weeks of intense searching. A day after the boys’ national funeral, police had their hands full investigating the possible revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager.

Mohammed Abu Khedair, 17, was reportedly abducted in the early morning hours as he awaited the call to morning prayers. Israeli nationalists are suspected of kidnapping Khedair, killing him and burning his body, then leaving his remains in a forest outside Jerusalem.

As news broke of the possible revenge killing, clashes quickly erupted. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, over 50 Palestinian residents were injured in the fight with Israeli security forces.

“We know believers in Gaza right now are certainly ducking for cover, with rockets going out from Hamas and Israel retaliating,” says E3 Partners Middle East expert, Tom Doyle, as he speaks with MNN from Jerusalem.

Touching on another subject, Doyle observes the increased security measures being taken by Israel. To “stop the waves of terror that might come from the east,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday that a fence along the Israel-Jordan border was necessary.

“Jordan has been a fairly safe place over the years,” Doyle notes. “But now, because of its small population and the possibility of a spillover of Islamic State (formerly ISIS) in Iraq…Israel faces a possibility that King Abdullah could fall and radical Muslims could take over.

“If this spills over, if this Islamic Caliphate takes…and it gives identity to Sunni Muslims, then certainly Jordan would have its hands full, which means it would be right on Israel’s doorstep.”

The proposed fence would cover 250 miles, spanning from Eliat to the Golan Heights.

An example of one of the Israeli-controlled checkpoints.

“Israel stands a better chance of blocking [radical Islam] there than they do at the Gaza Strip, where there are tunnels coming in from Egypt,” Doyle observes.

Conflict between Israel and the Palestinian territories, such as the sparring currently underway, is nothing new. But Israel is surrounded by catastrophes: the recently-declared Sunni caliphate, Iran and Hezbollah vowing to “wipe Israel off the map,” Syria’s ongoing war, etc.

The last thing Israel needs, Doyle points out, is for Islamic terrorist factors hailing from neighboring countries to join forces with groups currently at work inside Israel’s borders.

“If they could ever come together…Israel would have its hands full, and it would be a regional war for sure,” says Doyle.

As Jews see how quickly things change in the nations surrounding them, their hearts begin to open.

“We’re hearing stories about Jewish people that are very open to the Gospel,” Doyle shares. “We have heard of many situations where people have called upon the Lord and received Jesus as their Savior–the Jewish Savior, Yeshua.”

As Jews see how quickly things change in their neighboring Arab nations, their hearts begin opening to the Gospel.  (Map cred: 8thirty8 Facebook page)

As Jews see how quickly things change in their neighboring Arab nations, their hearts begin opening to the Gospel.
(Map credit: 8thirty8 Facebook page)

Your prayers for this region are desperately needed. Follow the 8thirty8 Facebook page for updates, and pray for tensions to settle. Pray that no more young people will die at the hands of nationalist or terrorist forces. Ask the Lord to comfort the families of all who were killed in recent days.

Pray that more people in the Middle East will come to know Jesus Christ as Savior.

“If you look at the news–the politics, it looks bad. But Jesus reaches out to the hearts of the people…and people are responding–both Jews and Arabs,” says Doyle.

More Middle East stories here.