Headlines around the world are decrying the Israeli boarding and seizing of a flotilla of ships heading for the port of Gaza with thousands of tons of supplies. At least nine people were killed and dozens injured in the boarding. Anger in that region is ratcheting higher.
Why is the Middle East continually a center of conflict? The biblical prophet Zechariah foretold 2,500 years ago God's warning that “I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:3 Zechariah 12:3And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
American King James Version×). When he recorded those words, the city had been destroyed and almost abandoned. Much has changed since then, but through the centuries Jerusalem, and the entire Middle East, has been the center of conflict many times.
The events of the past few days are likely leading down the path to this prophetic announcement reaching its final fulfillment. While the flotilla of five ships was billed as a humanitarian effort, the entire story of motives and purpose is less clear. But clearly the event will escalate the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Blockade of Hamas
First, a little background information. Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized the territory by force three years ago. The blockade's purpose is to prevent terrorist weapons, especially Iranian-made rockets, from reaching Gaza where they could be used against Israeli citizens. Weapons have been discovered several times hidden in “humanitarian aid” containers.
Israel has intercepted and inspected vessels bound for Gaza many times since then, allowing cleared vessels to proceed to the Gaza port or dock at Ashdod so their cargo could be delivered by land. As this flotilla was leaving Cyprus, Israel offered to transfer the shipments to Gaza after unloading and inspection at Ashdod. But this time was to be different.
Relief effort or publicity stunt?
The flotilla was organized by various groups including the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which Israel describes as a radical Islamic organization. It was outlawed by Israel in 2008 for allegedly being a major global fundraiser for Hamas. On board the largest vessel were over 600 passengers, including known militants. Also along were 25 European parliament members. Television crews and cameras were set up on deck and ready to roll, along with a live Internet feed. It was obviously organized ahead of time for worldwide publicity.
As Israeli soldiers were rappelling onto the ship's deck at 2 a.m., they were attacked by groups of men with knives and clubs. Shots were also fired, although there are conflicting reports as to which side fired first. As the violence subsided, video and photos of the injured were already circulating on Twitter and YouTube. A chorus of politicians in Europe decried the intervention, and demonstrations began almost instantly in several cities.
As George Friedman of Stratfor Global Intelligence concluded, “The flotilla achieved its strategic mission. It got Israel to take violent action against it. In doing so, Israel ran into its own fist.”
Focus of end-time controversy
The conflict over the land called Israel or Palestine is being played out on the world stage. Regardless of how anyone may feel about who may be right or wrong on the issue, any honest observer will admit that the entire world is being drawn into this small historic crossroads. No other place on earth is the focus of so much controversy or heated emotion. This latest event is just one more bit of evidence that God's words in the book of Zechariah were right.
If you would like to know more about Zechariah's prophecies and other prophecies about the coming events in the area of Jerusalem, please request or download our free booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy .