Hamas captures jeep

An overview of the current Israel-Hamas war

By: David Parsons, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman

On the quiet Shabbat morning of 7 October 2023, as the Jewish people were observing the fall holy day of Simchat Torah, Hamas launched thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel, which provided cover for over 2,500 armed terrorists to blast through the Gaza border fence and lay siege to 30 Israeli communities and an outdoor music festival. In the ensuing carnage more than 1,400 people, mostly Israeli civilians, were murdered in cold blood, scores more were wounded, and some 240 others were taken hostage to Gaza. The victims of this unprovoked attack also included dozens of foreign nationals from at least 40 countries. 

Israelis free the outdoor music festival

The brutal wave of atrocities committed by Hamas is the worst pogrom against the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Mere infants were cruelly stabbed and beheaded. The elderly, including Holocaust survivors, were executed at gunpoint. Parents were made to watch their children being killed, and children their parents. Entire families were burned alive in their homes. 

Israeli girl taken hostage

Despite Israel’s legendary military and intelligence services, the entire nation was completely shocked by the mass infiltration and ensuing carnage. In its aftermath, Israel as a nation has determined they are no longer willing to live alongside the ‘death cult’ of Hamas lurking inside Gaza. 

For the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, the Hamas onslaught was also surreal, as just two days earlier we led over 600 Christians from some 50 nations on a solidarity visit to this same western Negev region. We had just planted trees in our new “Christian Embassy Nature Park” near Kibbutz Be’eri, where a major breach in the Gaza security fence allowed hordes of terrorists to pour in. We drove on the same roads that became killing fields for fleeing Israeli motorists less than 48 hours later. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Kibbutz Alumim, another quaint farming village targeted by the waves of Hamas gunmen. We were there to encourage communities that sadly became ‘ground zero’ for the most brutal slaughter imaginable of innocent men, women, children and the elderly. 

Hamas militia inside a terror tunnel

Once the current fighting ends, there will be an official inquiry as to how this calamity happened. But it is already clear Israeli leaders were lulled into thinking Hamas was too busy governing Gaza to launch a major war with Israel. Ever since the Iron Dome anti-missile system was deployed in 2014 and a deep underground wall was then built to block terror tunnels under the Gaza border fence, the IDF was convinced they could handle any threats emanating from Gaza, and thus relaxed as the fall holiday season was coming to an end. 

Jolted into action, Israeli leaders formed an emergency unity government and called up a record 300,000 IDF reservists, with an extra 50,000-plus voluntarily showing up to help defend the nation. Many were rushed to the northern border to counter Hizbullah forces in Lebanon. Others were sent to lock down any potential Palestinian unrest in Judea/Samaria (‘West Bank’), while the rest deployed around Gaza waiting for the order to go in and start eradicating Hamas. 

Israel also took the unprecedented step of evacuating over 200,000 Israelis from the southern as well as northern border regions, to reduce the threat of more cross-border raids to kill and kidnap civilians. 

Everyone was waiting for Hizbullah to quickly join the battle, but they held off with any immediate large-scale incursions or missile barrages. This despite the fact that over recent months Hizbullah, Hamas, and their Iranian backers had all openly boasted that their “united axis of resistance” was ready to launch a coordinated multi-front war against Israel. But apparently, Hizbullah was caught off guard by the surprise Hamas attack, which was kept a closely-held secret among only its top military commanders. Thankfully, Hizbullah’s delay gave Israel time to mobilize and deploy its largest army ever, and to empty out the border communities, including such large towns as Sderot and Kiryat Shmona. 

While there have been localized artillery duels on the northern front, most of the fighting so far has been confined to Gaza. But even there, Israeli leaders have found themselves caught in a very difficult dilemma of prioritizing between the ultimate war aim of eradicating Hamas and trying to free the hostages taken into Gaza. 

Hamas is likely holding many hostages in its labyrinth of terror tunnels underneath Gaza’s sprawling urban maze. Funded by Iran and Qatar and dubbed the “Gaza metro,” the extensive tunnel network stretches for some 500 kilometers and allows Hamas to hide and move its weapons and militiamen and to spring hit-and-run attacks on Israeli forces. But the IDF now has better tunnel detection capabilities and massive bunker-buster bombs, and are hoping to turn the tunnels into death traps for Hamas. 

The flag of Palestine has become the main symbol for jihad, and the slogan “Free Palestine” is now a mere
euphemism for “Kill the Jews!” (Getty Images)

Above ground, the Israeli air force spent three weeks pulverizing Hamas infrastructure in a bid to weaken the militia before the IDF opened a ground offensive. Meanwhile, Israel also urged Gazan civilians to head to the south end of the Strip, where food, water and medicine are being allowed in. 

The plight of Gazans caught up in the fierce fighting has taken center stage once again, as many Arab and Muslims rulers have accused Israel of war crimes, while Western allies of Israel concur that Hamas is guilty of using its own civilian population as human shields. 

Israeli ground forces are expanding their hunt for Hamas militiamen and Israeli hostages inside Gaza, but it remains unclear how long the international community will allow Israel to wage this fight. The traditional battle lines are drawn, but something is different this time. 

The savage Hamas assault on October 7th touched the raw nerve of the Holocaust for most Israelis, and they have resolved to vanquish the Islamist terror group from the neighborhood. But Iran and its other proxy terror militias are poised to rain down tens of thousands of missiles all across Israel, even as a vicious wave of anti-Israel and antisemitic incitement is sweeping the globe. 

This has left the Jewish state and people facing their greatest challenge in generations. 

Even after suffering such a gruesome killing spree, Israel was allowed hardly one day of mourning before the angry, hate-filled mobs hit the streets worldwide waving Palestinian flags and calling for Israel’s demise. That very flag has become the main symbol for jihad, and the slogan “Free Palestine” is now a mere euphemism for “Kill the Jews!” 

Surely, everyone should have been appalled by the grave atrocities committed by Hamas which ignited this present conflict. Yet even the United Nations could not bring itself, just this one time, to condemn the mass murder of Jews by naming the culprit. 

This is the same United Nations which was established upon the vow “Never Again!”  

Regrettably, the world is failing the Jews once again. But the nation of Israel will prevail, and it has millions of Christian supporters boldly standing at its side. Read on further about how the International Christian Embassy is helping in this battle.