Israel and Hamas have clashed for decades. They both claim the same land. But October 7, 2023, began their deadliest fight yet. The Hamas terrorist organization attacked Israeli towns, killing and kidnapping civilians. Israel responded with weeks of bombardment and a ground offensive. Thousands died.
A late November cease-fire allowed exchanges of Hamas-held hostages for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.
As of December 1, Hamas released 110 of about 240 hostages during the truce. Those include four-year-old American Abigail Edan, dozens of Israelis, and captives of other nationalities. But other men, women, elderly, and children were not returned.
In exchange, Israel freed 240 Palestinian prisoners. Many were teenagers accused of throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli troops.
Civilians on both sides, including many children, suffer terribly. People around the world watch the conflict. Christians can ask God to comfort the afflicted. The world needs His perfect peace.
Yet some watchers respond with hatred. Arabs and Jews around the world face increased harassment and threats—despite having no power over the war. Internet postings of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim content soared.
“When these kinds of world events take place . . . people feel strongly about them,” criminal justice professor Frank S. Pezzella told Vox. “And when people have strong beliefs, they act out. They look at people in their neighborhoods and blame them for what is happening in the Middle East.”
The Anti-Defamation League is a Jewish advocacy group. It recorded 312 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States between October 7 and 23. Of those, 190 were directly linked to the war in Israel and Gaza. Those incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault increased by 388% over the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the Council on American Islamic Relations reported 774 complaints of bias against Muslims between October 7 and October 24. That was a sharp increase from the previous month.
Other citizens and leaders, including President Joe Biden, condemn such hateful acts. In November, tens of thousands of people gathered in British, French, and U.S. cities for rallies against anti-Semitism.
1 Peter 3:9 tells us, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called.”
Do you know people of Israeli or Palestinian lineage? Maybe they have family in or near the fighting? They may be hurting. Consider: Are there ways your family or church can share Christ’s love?
Why? Tragedies and terrible fighting stir strong emotions. Jesus calls us to love like He does.