Brief History of Israel/Hamas War

The war between Hamas and Israel has deep roots. One aspect of it relates to who rightfully occupies the land. A history tracing it back to Bible times would require more time and space than this column accommodates. Instead let’s reflect on it going back to when the land was occupied by Arabs. It was basically a nomadic unoccupied desert.

After World War II the British controlled the land. The British Mandate authorized a homeland for the Jews. On May 14, 1948, in Tel Aviv, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel, establishing the first Jewish state in 2,000 years. This sparked the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which resulted in the 1948 Palestinian expulsion and flight from the land that the State of Israel came to control. This subsequently led to waves of Jewish immigrants. War is ugly, very ugly and what began and continues is not pretty.

Many of those who occupied the land were displaced from their homes. At the same time the Jews began the development of what has become many modern cities and sophisticated agricultural use of the land. Israel truly is a miracle.

Hamas is a Palestinian political and militant group that emerged in 1987 during an uprising against Israeli rule. It is one of several militant groups committed to “driving Israel into the sea” and seeks to establish an independent Islamic state in what is now Israel. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by several countries due to its use of suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces.

In recent years, the group has also become active in politics, notably winning the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections and subsequently taking control of the Gaza Strip, an area roughly the size of Washington, DC, where they have acted as the governing authority ever since. Hamas is known to be funded by groups from around the world, especially Iran.

Though Hamas controls Gaza it is headquartered in the oil rich country of Qatar where their leader, Ismail Haniyeh watched and celebrated the invasion from the safety of his Qatar office. There is footage of him rolling on the floor praising God for the incursion into Israel.

I have visited Israel 44 times and seen scars on both sides of the conflict. There is enough wrong on both sides to boggle the mind. I have visited a home on the wall of Jerusalem near the Damascus Gate occupied by peaceful Arabs who fled into the desert when war broke out. They came back after the Six Day War to find their former home occupied by Jews. They had no recourse.

I have talked with youthful friends who saw the head of a man blown over the wall surrounding their playground by a terrorist bomb. These are microcosmic examples of the conflict.

I am very much pro-Israel. I have visited Israel with a Jewish group primarily from New York when we purchased a home for a Jewish family in which former Prime Minister Sharon lived out his last years. However, I am not unaware or unopposed to some of their conduct.

Israel will always be the object of aggression and is deserving of our full support.   

King David, the psalmist appealed: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.” This is an appeal to pray for Israel. Let’s do it.