U.S. and European air carriers halted flights to Israel yesterday after a rocket attack near Ben Gurion Airport. Is this a sign of things to come? Will the conflict between Hamas and Israel get worse before it gets better?
To predict the future, it’s important to understand the past. Unfortunately, much of the media’s coverage of the present conflict has ignored the real motives behind Hamas’ aggression toward Israel. (For more on Western bias against the Jewish state, see “Is the media being unfair to Israel?”) “Hamas” is an Arabic acronym for “Islamic Resistance Movement.” It published its official charter in 1988, calling for the destruction of Israel and raising “the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.”
Its founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, stated that “reconciliation with the Jews is a crime” and often claimed that Israel “must disappear from the map.” He was part of a movement called “radical Islam.” Its followers believe that God condemned Jewish people as “apes and swine” (Qur’an 5:60; see 2:65, 7:166). They are convinced that they must attack the Jewish state and its people in defense of Islam (Qur’an 2:190) and to “fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them” (Qur’an 9:5).
They believe that Abraham offered Ishmael rather than Isaac to God, making Ishmael’s Arab descendants the “chosen people.” Many deny that the Jews ever had a Temple in Jerusalem. They believe that God intends Palestine only for Palestinians, and that the creation of Israel in 1948 is a theft of land from its rightful owners. In short, Hamas is convinced that it must attack Israel to defend and advance Islam.
Why does it hide missiles in population centers, schools, and hospitals? In Hamas’ worldview, Palestinians who are killed in its conflict with Israel are martyrs promised eternity in paradise. Sheikh Yassin often encouraged young people to martyr themselves for the Palestinian cause. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was right: “Here’s the difference between us. We are using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using civilians to protect their missiles.”
Now to the present. Iran is supplying Fajr-5 long-range missiles, shipped to Sudan and smuggled into Gaza. Some 80 percent of Israel, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is now in range of Hamas’ rockets. In addition, Hamas has built up to 20 tunnels that enable militants to kidnap and attack Israeli citizens. To defend its people, Israel seeks to disarm Hamas and close its “terror tunnels.” This military action could take days or even weeks to complete.
Here’s the good news: Jesus loves Jews and Palestinians alike. He wants both people “to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). The closer they come to him, the closer they will come to each other. The ultimate answer in the Middle East is not military but spiritual.
Peace will be won not on the battlefield but in the heart.