Everyone knows this now but on October 7th members of Hamas in the Gaza Strip invaded and bombed Israel. Since then both residents of both Israel and Gaza have suffered tremendously. Most conflicts these days are complex and confusing and this is no different.
I’ve been thinking a great deal these days how best to encapsulate what is going on and I recently heard a good metaphor: is this Israel’s 9/11 or is it Gaza’s prison break?
First a little history: before 1948 the area we now call Israel was Palestine and while it had a Jewish population it was ruled by Palestinians who were Arab Muslims. After World War II Zionists (Jews who believed they needed a homeland) waged war and conquered Palestine. Most Palestinians fled to the area North and West of Jerusalem (called the West Bank and ruled by Jordan) or an area on the Mediterranean Sea (called the Gaza Strip and ruled by Egypt). In 1967 after the Six Day War both areas were taken by Israel. In 2005 and 2006 governance of Gaza was given to Hamas. Problem is, Hamas is founded on the desire to destroy Israel and return Palestine. Please note: this is an incredibly simplistic explanation.
So if you’re Israel this is your 9/11: Foreign terrorists attacked without warning and want your destruction. They need to be crushed without mercy and taught never to do this again.
But if you live on in Gaza you’ve been imprisoned there since 1948, oppressed and trapped without mercy. The attack was simply self defense in the need to end your imprisonment.
But what now? The lines have been drawn in ways that surprise nobody. Arab nations are lining up behind Gaza and while there is no proof of this Iran may be or get involved. The Iranian government has allied with Hamas. The United States, long an ally with Israel, is backing Israel. Of course since the US has no House Speaker there’s not much we can do but that’s the subject for another entry.
Hamas, for all its weaponry, is small and nobody really believes they can conquer Israel. If Iran and some of the Arab nations band together this could turn into a regional war but there’s been no sign of it and President Biden is working hard to make certain this doesn’t turn into a bigger conflict.
Israel has told people in the northern part of Gaza to evacuate and prepare for a ground invasion. It’s a given Israeli troops will invade Gaza but, well, here we go again. I suspect Israel will find that getting into Gaza will be easier than getting out. While they are there they will be an occupying force surrounded by people who don’t want them gone, they want them dead. It will look like the British army’s occupation of Northern Ireland last century.
In the meantime innocent people on both sides will die. Keep the prayers coming.