I joined a group of Christian leaders, hosted by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, who came to support Israel in its time of war. We saw blood-spattered walls and bullet holes in baby nurseries on the Gaza envelope. We saw hundreds of burned cars stacked thirty feet high and thousands of others riddled with holes from bullets and rocket-propelled grenades. Baby seats, children’s toys, and vacation gear were strewn amid the carnage.

We heard a messianic Jewish pastor tell of a soldier friend who on October 7 led five comrades in battle against fifty terrorists. On their subsequent race down a road to save civilians, they found a bullet-ridden car. In the front were the bodies of a father and mother; the decapitated bodies of three little children were in car seats in the back, and their little severed heads in the trunk.

Hamas terrorists raped young women in front of their parents before killing them all. They burned grandparents in their homes, and led other elderly people and children away in their pajamas to be tormented in Gaza tunnels. When someone in our group said the terrorists behaved like animals, a rabbi friend corrected him, “That’s unfair to animals. Not even animals treat their prey with such sadistic savagery.”

We heard from two mothers of hostages. Rachel Goldberg told of her twenty-three-year-old son Hersh, who had gone to the fated music festival on October 7 after his parents had prayed the Aaronic blessing on him at their family Shabbat meal the night before. Hersh’s arm below the elbow was blown off by a terrorist’s grenade, and he was seen being dragged into Gaza with his own improvised tourniquet on his bleeding stump.

Shuli ShemTov told us her twenty-one-year-old son Omer has asthma and celiac disease and is without help for either condition in Gaza’s underground jail cells. Despite his suffering, released hostages have reported that Omer rallies his fellow hostages by improvising shabbat meals for them. He uses a tissue as a yarmulke and grape juice and salt to pray the Friday kiddush. 

Eighteen of the remaining 126 hostages are over the age of sixty. A baby in captivity just turned one.

Militarily, Israel is winning the war in the south against Hamas. But in the global propaganda war, Islamists are convinced they are winning. Never before since 1948, they are telling one another, has Israel had to fight a war for so long without resolution. They are exhilarated by support from Russia, North Korea, and China.  Hamas leaders boast that Russia has thanked them for forcing the United States to shift focus away from the war on Ukraine.

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