Sixty Days In, Israel’s War Far From Over
By: David Parsons, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman
Two months ago, Israel was suddenly thrust into a terrible war when thousands of Hamas terrorists infiltrated from Gaza and carried out the worst single day of massacre and carnage against the Jewish people since the Holocaust. The staff of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem immediately went into crisis response mode to help Israelis deal with their most daunting challenge in generations – and the crisis is far from over some sixty days later.
Israel has yet to recover from the shock of over 1,200 Israelis murdered by Hamas terrorists on October 7, as more victims of that horrific pogrom are still being identified and buried each week. Israelis also have endured the relentless barrages of over 10,000 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel over the past two months. Meanwhile, the long ordeal to return the more than 240 people taken hostage into Gaza continues, with some 100 abductees – mostly women and children – finally freed during a seven-day pause in fighting in Gaza.
The Israeli military responded to the Hamas onslaught with several weeks of air strikes on terror targets inside Gaza to prepare the way for a ground offensive that steadily encircled Gaza City in the northern end of the Strip. The IDF managed to coax some one million Gazan civilians to flee south to safer areas, and then began the slow, dangerous task of rooting out Hamas fighters hiding in a labyrinth of over 300 miles of underground tunnels.
The Israeli army’s steady progress in rolling back the Hamas threat eventually forced the radical Islamist terror militia to agree to a temporary truce and hostage release deal. That break lasted for a week until Hamas refused to release the last batch of women and children, and now the IDF is finishing off Hamas in northern Gaza and starting to roll its tanks into the stronghold of Khan Yunis in the south.
To some extent, the conflict has been largely contained to Gaza and the adjoining border area, with IDF troops operating inside the Strip and the Iron Dome anti-missile batteries protecting Israel’s civilian heartland from the persistent rocket volleys from Gaza. However, there are serious battles raging on several other fronts that have kept the nation in fear of a much larger war. This includes the rising Palestinian terror threat in Judea/Samaria (the ‘West Bank’) and the even greater threat of the radical Hizbullah militia in Lebanon.
To deal with all these multiple fronts, Israel took two major steps at the start of the conflict which have greatly helped the war effort but also severely impacted the nation’s economy. First, the IDF called up more than 300,000 reservists to supplement its standing army, creating the largest force Israel has ever fielded. But this also took countless men and women away from their jobs, crippling the business sector.
In addition, Israel evacuated most of the towns and villages along the Gaza border, as well as those along the northern border with Lebanon – to keep Hizbullah from carrying out similar cross-border massacres like Hamas did. But this has displaced some 250,000 Israeli civilians, who are now being temporarily housed in the center of the country. This has created an extra heavy burden on the government budget and national economy.
One of Israel’s war aims is to remove the threat which Hamas and Hizbullah pose to the southern and northern borders, so these displaced Israeli families can go back to their homes in peace. Yet current estimates say it may be months before they can safely return. And now some of these community leaders are telling us they will probably stay in their temporary housing until next fall, so the children can spend the entire school year in the same place.
All the while, Israelis are living with the threat that Hizbullah might escalate its artillery duels along the northern border into an all-out war. This would put the whole country under relentless barrages of much heavier, longer-range missiles, many of them guided, for many more months to come.
So, even though we know Israel will eventually prevail, they are still far from the end of this conflict. And the urgent needs here remain immense.
Please continue to support our urgent efforts to help Israel through this difficult time and on to a brighter future.