By Isaac Willour
Peace means war. War means death. That matters.
20-year-old Arad Fruchter was finishing out the night on the dance floor. It was 6:30 in the morning, and Fruchter and friends were ready to finish out the weekend in the way that most twenty-year-olds would want—a massive rave in the middle of the desert with a couple hundred fellow trance fans. And then the DJ Noface show was punctured by the sound of rockets whizzing by overhead, combined with the two words that no Israeli ever wants to hear. Tzeva Adom. Code Red. Less than ten miles away, a storm had broken that would shatter the peace of Shabbat—and change Fruchter, and the lives of thousands of his fellow Israelis, forever.
Early last Saturday morning, after a massive ordnance drop on Israeli border posts, delivered courtesy of HAMAS drone operators, the fence marking the divide between Israel and Gaza exploded in flame as a thousand heavily armed HAMAS militants streamed over the border in trucks, motorcycles, and paragliders. The attack initially concentrated on Israeli military installations. It didn’t stop there, however, as fighters spread out into neighboring towns. It would be the first surge of many—as of writing this, the death toll in Israel has surpassed 1100, with more than 400 within the Gaza Strip. As the Middle East again inches towards war, here’s what you need to know.
Who is HAMAS?
HAMAS has been a prominent player in Gaza politics since its 1987 inception as the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, formed in the wake of what was then the first Palestinian uprising (known as the first intifada). The acronym stands for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, an Arabic phrase meaning ‘Islamic Resistance Movement.’
Since 2006, HAMAS has controlled the Gaza Strip, a 141 square mile area along the Mediterranean Sea, bordering Israel to the northeast and Egypt to the southwest, which approximately 2.3 million people call home. HAMAS’ aggression towards Israel is nothing new—the group has long promoted and engaged in violence against the Israeli state, supported by its allies in Iran/Syria, and considers the destruction of the Jewish state a core element of its mission.
“The Islamic Resistance Movement consider [sic] itself to be the spearhead of the circle of struggle with world Zionism and a step on the road. The Movement adds its efforts to the efforts of all those who are active in the Palestinian arena. Arab and Islamic Peoples should augment by further steps on their part; Islamic groupings all over the Arab world should also do the same, since all of these are the best-equipped for the future role in the fight with the warmongering Jews.” -Article 32, HAMAS charter (1988)
The scope of the current invasion is near unprecedented. The total number of rockets launched in HAMAS’ initial strike ranges between 2200 (IDF estimates) and 5000 (HAMAS estimates). HAMAS has launched more rockets at Israel in 50 hours than both sides launched at each other in 50 days in their 2014 conflict.
What’s Israel’s Response?
In short: overwhelming and brutal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war Sunday, and the Israeli response has begun in full force. As of this evening (the 8th), thousands of Gazan housing units have been either damaged or completely destroyed via Israeli airstrikes. The United Nations estimating that more than 120,000 Gazans had been displaced in the lead-up to the counterstrike. Statements from Israeli officials indicate that the coming days could see a complete removal of HAMAS from power in the Gaza Strip.
“Hamas wants to murder us all. This is an enemy that murders children and mothers in their homes, in their beds, an enemy that abducts the elderly, children and young women, that slaughters and massacres our citizens… The IDF will immediately use all its strength to destroy Hamas’s capabilities. We will destroy them and we will forcefully avenge this dark day that they have forced on the State of Israel and its citizens.” (Netanyahu, X post on 10/7)
- HAMAS is likely to be decimated—quite literally. Despite initial intelligence failures during the early morning hours of the invasion, this is the most substantive attack on the Israeli state in recent memory. The extreme brutality of the invasion, including widespread kidnapping, rape, and murder of innocent civilians as political bargaining chips against Israel, indicates that the blowback under Netanyahu’s oversight will produce some of the most violent conflict the world has seen out of the Middle East since the beginning of the 21st century.
- A lot—a LOT—of innocent people are going to die. This is inevitable: although thousands have fled the Strip, some will be unable to leave. It’s virtually guaranteed that innocent Palestinians will continue to lose their lives in a conflict that many never supported in the first place, even as they pay the price for a horrific invasion of Israel that Israelis never supported in the first place either. There truly is no bright and shining outcome here.
An Uncertain Future
- The power balance in the Middle East, regardless of what the final death toll tallies to, will not be one that offers any solace to marginalized populations within the region, particularly the already-heavily-persecuted Palestinian Christian population.
For probably the best updates on this, follow the Associated Press’ live feed: https://apnews.com/live/israel-hamas-war-live-updates. As much as I hesitate to call war coverage ‘good,’ the coverage on X (formerly Twitter) has also been exceptionally thorough.
Lastly, we’ve been told to ‘pray for the peace of Israel,’ and that’s a noble goal. But let’s not forget: peace, in this moment, means war. War means death, and at least some of that will inevitably be the death of innocent life. There will be no clean victory here, no matter how just the cause.
It’s worth pondering, and I’m intensely grateful to Douglas Murray (read his excellent piece at the Free Press here) for steering my thoughts to Ecclesiastes 3 in the wake of the invasion.
I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work…in my heart with regard to the children of man, that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. (Ecc. 3: 16-20).
About the Author
Isaac Willour is a marketing fellow at the Institute for Faith and Freedom and the editor-in-chief of Checkpoint News. An award-winning journalist and political science student, he has covered topics ranging from Florida’s death row to the war in Ukraine and has published more than a hundred pieces in outlets ranging from The Gospel Coalition to National Review to The Wall Street Journal. He has also contributed to interviews on the state of American politics for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and The New York Times Opinion. He blogs about culture, religion, and Generation Z at The Unafraid on Substack.
Isaac has served as an editorial intern at The American Spectator and The Dispatch and recently completed an undergrad fellowship through the Acton Institute’s Emerging Leaders Program in Grand Rapids, MI. On campus, Isaac is the chair of the campus’ AEI Executive Council program, as well as the senior editor of the Grove City Journal of Law & Public Policy. He has served as an award-winning political columnist for The Collegian and a teaching and research assistant for Drs. Carl Trueman and Paul Kengor.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the writer alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grove City College, the Institute for Faith and Freedom, or their affiliates.