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Israel Under Attack: A Lot of Questions, No Good Answers


It’s a fast-changing, horrifying situation, but here’s what Christians need to know right now.

America woke up on Saturday morning to the shocking news that Israel is at war. Overnight, Hamas terrorists breached the wall between the Gaza Strip and Southern Israel and launched a massive, unprecedented attack on Israel using armed fighters, paragliders, drones, and rockets to target Israeli soldiers guarding the border and civilians, including hundreds of young people attending a music festival. Their tactics have been beyond repulsive as Hamas fighters have raped and executed young women, killed whole families in their homes, and taken women, children, and the elderly hostage.

At last count, 1,100 Israelis have been killed and an estimated 150 are being held hostage in Gaza.

Although there have been skirmishes between Hamas and Israel in recent years, this attack is unprecedented and, in response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to use his military to end Hamas once and for all.

What will this mean for Israel and the Middle East? It’s hard to tell, but this is clearly a transformative event, not just for the region but potentially the world.

In this article, we will provide the latest, basic facts on what happened and why, the brutal history of Hamas and their hatred for Israel, how Israel is fighting back, how the world is responding, where this is headed, and what Christians can do to help.

What happened, and why?

At 6:35 a.m. on Saturday, October 7, as Israelis celebrated the end of the Jewish holiday Sukkot and the beginning of their Sabbath, the sirens began sounding, warning of incoming rockets into Israel.

Unprepared civilians faced a blitzkrieg of thousands of rockets entering Israel, which even the nation’s vaunted Iron Dome missile defense system couldn’t mitigate. Within an hour Hamas soldiers had crossed the Gaza border into Israel and began taking over towns.

Hamas’s cruelty has been unfathomable as it quickly started murdering unarmed civilians, including women and children. Hamas took videos of naked women they had raped and killed, standing over their bodies as trophies. Hamas fighters also began dragging hostages across the border, including children and the elderly, such as a 94-year-old woman in a wheelchair who is a Holocaust survivor.

The attacks occurred largely because Hamas, and many around the globe, including Iran, Hamas’s largest supporter, do not recognize the right of Israel to exist and want to eradicate the Jewish state. They view Israel as oppressors and occupiers, a designation that the United Nations shares with Hamas. This is despite the fact that in 2005, Israel gave the Gaza Strip to Palestinians and vacated and destroyed all Israeli settlements.

Although Israel has consistently been attacked by various Islamic nations that hate the Jewish state, it has attempted to be peaceful while defending itself.

Who is Hamas?

Hamas, an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, or “Islamic Resistance Movement,” is a terrorist group first founded in 1987. It grew out of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and has since gained political power over the Gaza Strip and its citizens.

Brutal Palestinian terrorism is nothing new to Israel, as it has been the norm since even before Israel was officially recognized as a country in 1948. However, the tactic took a high-profile turn in 1972 when a terror group known as Black September killed two Israeli athletes and took another nine hostage at the Munich Olympics in Germany; the hostages were later killed when German police engaged the terrorists in a shootout. Decades later, documents that had been hidden by the German government revealed that terrorists had tortured the hostages “until their bones snapped,” among other atrocities.

Since then, Israel has had thousands of its citizens killed in terror bombings, shootings, rocket attacks, and other terror acts perpetrated by such pro-Palestinian groups as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hezbollah, and later Hamas.

Palestinian terrorism is also nothing new to the U.S. and other Western countries that are allies of Israel. Since the 1970s, hundreds of Americans have been killed in dozens of suicide bombings, hijackings, shootings, and kidnappings. For example, in 1978, PLO terrorists shot and killed 38 people on an Israeli beach, including the niece of a sitting U.S. senator. In a series of attacks in 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon, Hezbollah terrorists, with financial backing from the Iranian government, set off a remote-control bomb in front of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 63 employees, and later drove a truck bomb into the nearby U.S. Marine barracks, killing 241 Marines and wounding 81. In 1985, terrorists posing as passengers hijacked a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea and heartlessly murdered a wheelchair-bound Jewish-American man by throwing him overboard.

After the PLO signed the Oslo Accords in 1993 and agreed to recognize the state of Israel, Hamas condemned the PLO and kicked off its own terror strategy. This included bombing restaurants, synagogues, and other soft targets in Israel; disguising themselves and infiltrating cities to murder Israeli civilians; firing rockets into residential neighborhoods; and kidnapping IDF soldiers and civilians.

In 2007, Hamas members ran for election in the Gaza Strip and captured the legislature, overthrowing the U.N. backed PLO and becoming the governing authority.

Despite this power, Hamas still refuses to co-exist peacefully or recognize Israel’s right to exist and it has since doubled-down on its terror strategy — not only increasing attacks on Israeli targets but also spreading lies about Israel to inflame the Palestinian people and offering money to any Palestinian who shoots an Israeli citizen and uploads a video of it to TikTok. It also uses the vile tactics of placing military assets and facilities within residential and urban areas in Gaza and using its own citizens as human shields to stymie Israel’s ability to retaliate and protect itself, as well as to gain media sympathy when its civilians are killed during an Israeli strike.

How has Israel responded?

On Saturday morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced to a stunned nation:

“Citizens of Israel, we are at war, not in an operation or in rounds, but at war. This morning, Hamas launched a murderous surprise attack against the State of Israel and its citizens. We have been in this since the early morning hours.”

He went on to promise:

“We are at war and we will win it. I convened the heads of the security establishment and ordered — first of all — to clear out the communities that have been infiltrated by terrorists. This currently is being carried out. At the same time, I have ordered an extensive mobilization of reserves and that we return fire of a magnitude that the enemy has not known. The enemy will pay an unprecedented price.”

By 10:46 a.m., Israeli fighter jets had begun striking targets in the Gaza Strip. The bombings have continued into Monday and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) said it has struck more than 1,000 enemy targets in airstrikes in Gaza. Israel has called up a record 300,000 reservists into military service as it launches an all-out assault.

IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Monday, “We have never drafted so many reservists on such a scale. We are going on the offensive.”

Hagari confirmed that Israel has already retaken the towns Hamas occupied, saying, “We are now carrying out searches in all of the communities and clearing the area.”

Israel is also conducting a “full siege” of the Gaza Strip. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated, “No power, no food, no gas, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.”

Some of the locations Israel has hit include seven Hamas command centers, a munitions warehouse, and the entrance to an underground tunnel. While many media outlets are reporting that Israel has bombed a mosque, that mosque was serving as a Hamas operational room.

How has the world reacted?

The reactions around the globe have been disparate: Most have condemned Hamas for not only its attacks on Israel but also, and especially, for its horrifying treatment of civilians, including women and children. However, in what has been both shocking and appalling, many people, including Americans, have openly celebrated Hamas’s tactics as necessary and appropriate.

The United States has condemned the attacks and Secretary of State Antony Blinken has affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. However, he denies that the $6 billion recently released to Iran as part of an Iran-U.S. hostage/prisoner exchange was used to fund the Hamas assault. Israel has since requested aid from the United States, and Blinken seemed to indicate the U.S. will provide financial support, although he did not provide specifics.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced it is sending additional warships to the area in a show of support for Israel.

On Monday, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller confirmed that nine Americans were killed during the Hamas attack.

Germany and Austria have said they are suspending their bilateral agreement to provide funds to Palestinians, while the European Union has suspended all payments to the Palestinians and will review its funding.

Many around the world, including some U.S. legislators, have placed the blame on Israel or even openly cheered Hamas’s barbarism.

Though the U.S. government claims it has not found evidence that Iran supported the attacks, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei praised Hamas’s actions on X (formerly Twitter), writing, “God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the Resistance forces throughout the region. #AlAqsaStorm”.

X says the message violates its rules but left the post up in the public’s interest.

Elon Musk, owner of X, posted an explanation, saying, “Khamenei’s official position is clear that the eradication of Israel is the actual goal, not just supporting Palestinians. That will not happen. All that actually happens, decade after decade, is a never-ending cycle of violence and vengeance. Stoking the fires of hatred isn’t working. Perhaps it is time to consider something else.”

Protests around the globe have taken place in support of Hamas’s attacks and Palestinian “liberation.” Hundreds of protestors gathered in New York City where they chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” The phrase is commonly associated with pro-Palestinian advocates who seek the elimination of Israel. One protestor was seen holding up a swastika.

In Sydney, Australian Jews have been warned to stay inside as Hamas supporters storm the streets. Pro-Palestinian advocates held signs and shouted, “Palestine will be free” and “Allahu Akbra” (Arabic for “Allah is great”).

In a speech before a huge crowd, Muslim preacher Sheikh Ibrahim Dadoun stated,

“My brothers, My sisters, I’m Smiling, I’m smiling, and I’m happy, I’m elated. It’s a day of courage, it’s a day of happiness, it’s a day of pride, it’s a day of victory. This is the day we’ve been waiting for … 75 years … 75 years of occupation. What yesterday happened was the first time our brothers and sisters broke through the largest prison alive.”

Some Hamas supporters have reacted by adding to the bloodshed. The day after the attack on Israel began, a police officer in Egypt opened fire on a bus carrying Israeli tourists, killing two of them.

What’s the latest on the hostages?

Though the exact number of hostages is unknown, reports indicate that over 150 people have been kidnapped. Israeli authorities confirmed that Americans are among the hostages.

IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that although he was unsure the exact number of people who have been taken hostage, “I can only say that we are talking about many, many Israelis … Women, children, infants, elderly, and even disabled people.”

Reservist Brigadier-General Gal Hirsch, who has been appointed to lead on the hostage crisis, said, “We are creating a full situational picture and are working at full strength to create an effective system.”

He told families who are missing loved ones that “We have heavy missions ahead of us, and I am with you in the campaign to bring all the missing and kidnapped back home to Israel.”

Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas, threatened earlier on Tuesday that every time Israel targets Gaza civilians in their homes, Hamas will execute a hostage and broadcast the execution.

At a news conference, Uri David, a father who was on the phone with his two daughters before they were kidnapped, recounted the horrifying event: “I heard shooting, shouting in Arabic, I told them to lie on the ground and hold hands. I am asking for the whole world to see what I am going through. We have to bring the children home — and as fast as possible.”

Another father named Yoni Asher, who saw video of his wife and children being abducted, stated, “My two little girls, they’re only babies. They’re not even five years old and three years old.”

How should Christians respond?

As horrifying as these events are to read about and watch, Christians must stay attuned to the latest news on this story. It is very tempting to ignore something so distressing and depressing, but for Christians that isn’t an option.

Though Christians may disagree over what role Israel plays in God’s plan, we can all agree that we have a special connection to the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. Our faith is a Jewish faith and we believe it is the fulfillment of the promises of Judaism, the promised Messiah, God in the form of a Jewish man, crucified for the sins of the world.

Additionally, this is human suffering on a level that is not normally seen. It is important to note that the death toll in a nation as small as Israel would be the equivalent of 25,000 in the United States, more than 9/11. This is no small attack; this is, as President Franklin Roosevelt said when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, a day which will live in infamy.

And so, as Christians, we must pray for Israel. Pray for the hostages to be set free and for humane treatment of them. Pray for their families and that peace be granted to them. Pray for military and political leaders around the globe.

This situation has the potential to grow from a heinous attack to a large-scale war involving numerous nations. We must pray that the world will see Israel’s right to exist and that the blindness perpetrated by Hamas and its allies that has overtaken the world would be removed.

Yet we know that for all of history many have hated the Jews and Israel and that is likely going to continue. As Christians we can show our love for the Jewish people and for all people with our prayers and, as this plays out, potentially with our financial support.

As you seek to stay informed, be sure to follow the Standing for Freedom Center as we will continue to update you on what is happening in Israel and provide thought-proving articles and analysis on the issues surrounding this catastrophe.

The Church must be involved in public discourse and influence. That’s why we write — so our readers can be equipped to understand and pursue righteous change in the world. For more timely, informative, and faith-based content, subscribe to the Standing for Freedom Center newsletter.

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