By now, most readers of the Stand have heard the news of the radical Palestinian group Hamas’s attack on Israel. As of Sunday, about 600 people, both Israelis and Palestinians, have been killed and an estimated 1,700 injured. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “ordered a call-up of reservists after Palestinian militants fired thousands of rockets, invaded several Israeli towns and took hostages.”
Fighting has occurred in dozens of places along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, the narrow wedge of land between Israel’s western border and the Mediterranean Sea. Hamas’s assault has come by land, sea, and air, obviously the fruit of extensive planning and the stockpiling of aggressive weaponry of all types.
In a recorded message, Hamas leader Mohammed Deif, said, “This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth.” He claimed that Hamas had fired 5,000 rockets into Israel.
In 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Strip, both Egypt and Israel sealed its border. While this has harmed the Gazan economy for the two million Palestinian Arabs who live there, both Egypt and Israel felt they had little choice, given Hamas’s commitment to destroying Israel. The brutal attack on Israel over the past 36 hours vindicates their decision.
Yet out of humanitarian concern, “Israel allows Qatar to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance through Hamas,” according to analysts Zachary Laub and Kali Robinson. “Other foreign aid generally reaches Gaza via the Palestinian Authority and UN agencies.” But Hamas receives more than charitable assistance.
According to the U.S. State Department, Iran provides $100 million annually to Hamas and other anti-Israel terrorist organizations. There is also evidence that Turkey funds Hamas through covert channels. Originally part of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s original charter, published in 1988, makes its objective very clear: the “obliteration” of Israel. Hamas not only hates Israel but the Jewish people generally.
The 1988 charter reads, “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslem people. ‘May the cowards never sleep.’”
In an attempt to soften its image, Hamas in 2017 issued a new document in which it claimed, “Hamas does not wage a struggle against the Jews because they are Jewish but wages a struggle against the Zionists who occupy Palestine.” Since the Jews living in Israel and millions around the world believe Israel is their legally and morally rightful national home, Hamas’s distinction between “Zionists” and Jew is indiscernible. The new “moderate” statement also makes clear that the State of Israel must end. Since its Jewish citizens have no plans to leave, this means that “obliteration” of the Jewish state — and the Jews who live there — remains Hamas’s goal.
One of the reasons for the surprise attack likely is the American-led effort to induce Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel as a sovereign state. During the Trump administration, four Muslim nations — Morocco, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and the Sudan — recognized Israel. Were Saudi Arabia to do so, Hamas’s claim to represent faithful Islam would be further diminished. If Israel launches retaliatory strikes that result in significant civilian casualties, the Saudi-Israel deal could be off. As journalist Bret Stephens writes, “Large numbers of Palestinian casualties will probably derail a peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”
Regrettably, Hamas is being defended by the Saudi government, which says it repeatedly has given “warnings of the dangers of the explosion of the situation as a result of the continued occupation, and deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights, and the repetition of systematic provocations against its sanctities.”
There is no dispute that Gaza’s Arabs are experiencing economic hardship due to the restrictions placed by other nations on Hamas, but were Hamas not the existential threat to Israel it has proven once again to be, the sanctions would be lifted and new economic growth would follow. Sadly, as long as Israel exists as a nation, Hamas’s campaign against her will continue.
President Biden said Saturday America would stand by Israel. “Terrorism is never justified. Israel has a right to defend itself and its people” and that our commitment to “Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.” This is welcome news for all who love the Jewish people and believe in their right to have a national home.
More than 20% of Israel’s population is Arab, somewhere around 1.9 million people. They enjoy the same rights as citizens as does the country’s Jewish population. This does not mean many do not experience discrimination, but their status in Israel is legally the same as its Jews and certainly far more robust than Jews in virtually any Arab/Muslim majority nation.
As Family Research Council President Tony Perkins urges, Christians must “pray for the state of Israel, the region, and all those who could be emboldened worldwide to cause further havoc. It is hard not to connect this attack on Israel to the current chaos in Congress and lack of leadership from the White House. Israel’s enemies — funded by the billions the Biden admin released to Iran —seized upon a paralyzed Congress.”
As Perkins further notes, this also points to the need for Republicans to elect a conservative and pro-Israel House speaker as soon as possible. Christians must also pray for the protection of Gaza’s civilian population, who are daily subject to the brutality of a terrorist regime.
We must also pray for our own country in all of this. Christians know we need to stand by Israel not just as a matter of keeping a solemn commitment or looking out for our own interests, both of which it is. It’s also a matter of heeding the warning of Scripture. God’s Word tells us that any nation seeking to harm His chosen people, the Jews, “touches the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).
The witness of history proves this warning true. Let’s ask our Lord that America, and the world, would remember it.