In the classic musical, Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye looks to heaven and exclaims, “I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?”
Most of us have never been viscerally hated for who we are. We have not lived alongside people who proclaim their greatest aspiration is to eradicate our nation and our families. Welcome to the reality of Israeli Jews.
On October 7th, the long-declared intention of Hamas was carried out with murderous results. For a few traumatic hours, a few thousand Hamas terrorists and other Palestinian opportunists rampaged in southern Israel. They massacred over 1,400 men, women, and children, wounded scores more, and kidnapped 242 people—dragging them back to Gaza and imprisoning them in an underground warren of terror tunnels. Even now, the fate of those hostages remains maddeningly unclear.
To understand the biblical and prophetic implications of this attack—and the ensuing War in Gaza—we need to consider the who, what, when, where, and why.
The terror organization behind this most recent atrocity is Hamas. The word “Hamas” is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Isamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement). It emerged in the 1980s as a spin-off of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. Palestinian cleric Sheikh Ahmed Yassin brought the militant activism of the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt to the West Bank and Gaza after the Six Day War in 1967.
Following the first Intifada (launched by Yassir Arafat in 1987), Yassin asserted Hamas’ political influence—initially standing in opposition to both Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad but demonstrating a willingness to engage in dramatically more violent attacks against Israel. In 1988 Hamas published its charter promising a “very great and very serious” struggle against the Jews. It committed itself to vanquishing the enemy in order to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.”
The single-minded fixation of Hamas—along with Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Islamic State (or ISIS)—to annihilate the Jews has at times led to pitched rivalries with their fellow Muslims. That is why Hamas competed with the Fatah (the political wing of the Palestinian Authority) for control of the Gaza Strip in 2005 when Israel unilaterally withdrew its military under pressure from the Bush Administration. Following Arafat’s death, the PA was no competition for Hamas’ more extreme ideology. As it consolidated power, Hamas militants murdered Fatah leaders. Tellingly, a majority of Palestinians in Gaza affirmed Hamas’ radical leadership, handing Hamas 56% of the seats in their Gazan parliament.
Almost immediately, Hamas demonstrated its intention to incite more violence against Israel. It quickly drew the ire of even Arab countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Egypt had firsthand knowledge of the radical Muslim Brotherhood and its destabilizing influence in its own country, and did not want any part of an even more dangerous organization.
Fast-forward to this past October. Some in the West expressed shock that Hamas had squandered millions in aid intended to benefit the people of Gaza in pursuit of its war against Israel. While Gazans live in squalor, Hamas militants amassed thousands of rockets, built 300 miles of terror tunnels, and prepared to launch its all-out attack on Israel. But Hamas spokesman Taher El-Nounou was quite candid when he confessed, “Hamas’s goal is not to run Gaza and to bring it water and electricity and such. I hope that the state of war with Israel will become permanent on all the borders, and that the Arab world will stand with us.”
Although fraught with internal divisions of their own, the major Arab nations around Israel have declined to adopt the radical position of Hamas. In fact, they have made it rather clear that they would like to see Israel excise this infectious cancer. Exceptions have included Syria—a long-standing and rabid foe of Israel, Yemen, and Qatar. Qatar has been particularly duplicitous throughout, because they allow the string-pulling heads of Hamas—Ismail Haniyeh, Moussa Abu Marzuk, and Khaled Mashal—to live in luxury and security. American news outlets have reported that those three Hamas leaders are worth over $11 billion. They have enriched themselves while relegating the Palestinian people to refugee camps and poverty, even as they funnel millions toward terror against Israel and the West.
But as evil as Hamas is, it is not alone. Hezbollah has overrun south Lebanon and has even more weapons, more fighters, and more support from the financier of most Middle Eastern terrorism today: Iran.
From a biblical perspective, Hamas and Hezbollah would consider themselves Arab organizations. As such, they trace their lineage back to Abraham’s son Ishmael. In Genesis 16:11-12, God told Hagar that her son would be a: “wild donkey of a man” and that: “his hand will be against everyone.” To this day, that prophetic word lives on in an oft-quoted Arab proverb:
Me against my brothers. Me and my brothers against my cousins. Me and my family against the tribe. Me and my tribe against the world.
Many of the details of October 7th are well-established. In a surprisingly coordinated attack, Hamas militants pierced the security fence separating Israel from Gaza and rampaged through several Israeli towns and villages. They quickly overwhelmed a local military outpost and police station, rendering the civilian population virtually defenseless.
Many people have speculated on how Hamas could plan such a complicated mission without the vaunted Israeli intelligence organizations getting wind of the plan. But Hamas’ operational security was exceeded only by their audacity and blood-lust. Utilizing drone technology, paragliders, sea-borne craft, and motorcycle-mounted gunmen, Hamas terrorists first blinded the electronic monitoring equipment and then began their murderous rampage.
An inevitable Israeli investigation will determine just how such an intelligence failure occurred. From a military perspective, it is obvious that Israel’s reliance on high-tech gear and smug self-confidence in the face of constant boastful but unfulfilled threats had led to complacency. There is another uniquely Western attitude that was certainly at play: an inability to recognize that the enemy is as ruthless as their words would indicate.
So, when the first wave of militants blinded the IDF’s local surveillance equipment (and reports are already being circulated that women IDF soldiers monitoring that equipment warned of a possible attack but were ignored), following waves were able to range throughout the region of Israel surrounding Gaza with no resistance.
What has also become obvious in recent weeks is that scores of Palestinian civilians streamed through the breaches in the border fence to engage in atrocities. Some of the most horrific mutilations of dead Israelis was at the hands of those radicalized Gazans civilians.
Once again, it is difficult to understand hatred that is incited from birth. We cannot conceive of teaching our children that their greatest aspiration should be to die while killing Jews. But that is the undeniable ideology of those who cheered when Hamas terrorists brought dead, wounded, and helpless people back to Gaza from their assault into Israel.
This latest war began on October 7th—exactly 50 years and a day after Egyptian and Syrian forces launched the Yom Kippur War—but the reverberations continue to this day. It is likely that the War in Gaza will continue for some time. For its part, Israel has been clear about its intention to destroy Hamas—a feat that will take months or years to accomplish (if it can be done at all).
What complicates every war Israel has fought is the pressure that is brought to bear by the world at large. In 1948, the world did not intervene when Israel was threatened with annihilation by five Arab armies. In 1956, Great Britain and France did not keep Israel from bearing the brunt of Egypt’s attacks even though they had instigated the war in a secret pact with Israel.
In 1967, the world did not feel any compulsion to intervene while Abdul Nassar was falsely claiming to be devastating the Jewish nation. But it forced Israel to stop the war after six days when it realized the forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan had been defeated so soundly. When it became obvious that Israel had the upper hand, the United Nations insisted on a cessation of hostilities.
Even in 1973, the United States only intervened once it became apparent Israel was in such dire straits that it was considering a nuclear option. And the rest of the world only became concerned and demanded a ceasefire when Israel turned the tide against Egypt and Syria and was driving toward Cairo and Damascus.
This war is no different. The outpouring of support for Israel from the West has already waned dramatically. America and its European allies are quite alarmed at the possibility of this conflict widening to encompass the entire Middle East. And they are all mired in internal protests from loud and violent Muslim and Progressive agitators. Our own President Biden, who declared “America stands with Israel” when they began their own just war, has wavered in his support due to political pressure from Leftists in the Democratic party. [The Squad Stands with Hamas]
By mid-November, I became personally aware that the Biden Administration was attempting to stop the transfer of defensive gear like bulletproof vests and helmets to Israeli citizens. So much for standing with Israel.
Prophetically, we know that the remaining Jewish diaspora will be motivated to return home to Israel. This war may spark a mass Aliyah. [Aliyah = “Going Up”, a Jew returning to Israel] But we also know all the nations of the world will come against Israel in the End Times. Rising Antisemitism in the West is providing the motivation for the diaspora to return, and the rapidly shifting sands of political expediency demonstrates why the nations will turn against God’s chosen people when they are fully regathered to their ancient homeland.
The accelerating pace of world events is yet another sign that we are living in the End Times. The wars forecast in Scripture may materialize very soon—and in rapid succession.
But this moment in time also demonstrates that the ramifications of this war extend far beyond the borders of Gaza or Israel.
In Part 2, we will look at the where’s, why’s and solution to Hamas’ Antisemitic attack on the Jewish people.