If you’re like me, you never thought much about the Gaza Strip before October 7. I knew Hamas—the ruling organization that governs the Strip—was considered a terrorist group by the United States government, hated Israel, and launched rockets into the Jewish state every few months.
I recently learned that for years in southern Israel, many small kibbutz towns allowed Gazans to cross the border to work in their communities. The pay in Israel was more than what they would make in Gaza. Many Israelis who lived in the south believed they could achieve peace with the people of Gaza by giving them a chance to make a better life for themselves and their families by working alongside their Israeli neighbors.
We now know many of those workers were giving information about the families in the kibbutzim to Hamas, who then used the information to go systematically from home to home, killing, torturing, and kidnapping families. I still shudder in disbelief, thinking of the evil carried out on that terrible October day.
Living in a Post-October 7 World
On October 7, something forever changed. I am not Jewish, but I have visited Israel several times, and my love for the Jewish people—driven by my theology—runs deep. Israelis have a determination many of us have only read about in our history books, mirroring early American life. They are proud to be back in their homeland, working hard to make it flourish and blessing the world with their innovations.
On October 7, something forever changed.
I’ve studied how the Jewish people bought much of the land in Israel and developed the swampy mess and desert into a blooming country. People can have their own opinions on whether the modern State of Israel has done everything correctly over the last 75 years, but no one can deny its sovereignty.
What changed for many of us on October 7 and the days following? It awakened new generations to the love and defense of Israel and its right to exist, which is known as Zionism. Sadly, it also awakened a new wave of antisemitism that many have never witnessed.
Israel and Gaza’s Hard Past and Sad Present
With renewed passion for defending Israel and the Jewish people, I knew I needed to learn more about Israel’s history with Gaza. So I looked in our Israel My Glory magazine archives. One of the first places I saw Hamas mentioned was on a timeline of modern Israel in the November/December 2003 issue of Israel My Glory. In 1994, Hamas led a Palestinian protest against the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Those who had no desire for peace in the region thwarted the path to peace in bold and destructive ways.
But this pattern was already established, according to Bruce Scott’s November/December 2001 article, “Duplicity: The PA [Palestinian Authority] Strategy to Destroy Israel.” Palestinian leadership was offered peace, land, and autonomy in the region again and again, only to respond with violence towards its neighbors. What was Israel to do?
We have heard and read Palestinian sympathizers’ calls for Israel to “stop the occupation.” So I looked into these claims of Israeli occupation of Gaza. What I found was the opposite: Israel left Gaza completely in 2005. I assumed this was a peaceful pullout of the Israeli military from the region. It was not peaceful nor simply a withdrawal of military personnel. Thousands of Israeli civilians were forced from their homes and livelihoods in Gaza. For many reasons, Israel decided the best solution towards peace and curbing violence against its people would be leaving Gaza and closing its borders.
The cost of leaving Gaza was great. According to the September/October 2005 article “Slated for Destruction: Life in Gush Katif,”
When Israel abandons Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip, it will walk away from 21 communities that house schools, businesses, farms, and 900 acres of high-tech hothouses that yield nearly 70 percent of all Israel’s organic fruits and vegetables and 90 percent of its cherry tomato exports.
In the 20 or so years they have been there, Israelis have turned this rugged land, considered cursed by the Arabs, into a region of luscious produce, brilliant flowers, and aromatic spices. Gush Katif’s famous bug-free vegetables are shipped around the world, generating annual export revenues of $60 million. So far the Palestinians have rebuffed Israel’s efforts to help them take over these assets.
Peace has always been Israel’s desire. And the sad plight of Gaza is the result of a people who refuse peace.
Hindsight is often 20/20. We know now Israel leaving Gaza left Hamas with an opportunity to take over via election. And Israel is no closer to peace in the region than it was 20 years ago. But history does not lie. Peace has always been Israel’s desire. And the sad plight of Gaza is the result of a people who refuse peace.
Helpful Resources for Learning More
If you have a new or renewed passion for learning more about Israel like I do, here are few recommendations:
• Read It is No Dream by Elwood McQuaid. Dr. McQuaid is a former executive director of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry and has a unique perspective of biblical knowledge coupled with a personal investment in supporting the modern State of Israel.
• Subscribe to Israel My Glory magazine online and learn from the archives. This has been most helpful for me as I’ve strived to learn more about the history between Israel and the Palestinian people. Most importantly, it has also been a constant source of help as I gain more biblical knowledge.
• Stay curious and seek the truth. The Bereans, to whom Paul ministered (Acts 17:10–12), taught us this principle in regards to God’s Word, and it should be our way of life. It is easy to look through the incomplete lens of our Western thinking when we evaluate Israel’s decisions. This is why I enjoy reading Jewish or Israeli news sources. There are excellent publications such as Jewish News Syndicate, Israel National News, and The Jerusalem Post that give a clear picture of situations most of our news simplifies.
We would love to hear what has helped you as a supporter of Israel. List your suggestions in the comments below. And please, let us not stop praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).