Israel’s Resolve Undeterred Despite Global Array of Attacks and Anti-Semitism
In the wake of news that a senior Hamas leader in a Hezbollah stronghold had been killed near Beirut on Tuesday, observers fear that the incident could spark an escalation in the conflict on Israel’s northern border between the Jewish state and Hezbollah. But experts on the ground in Israel say the Jewish state remains resolute in its mission to eradicate Hamas following the terrorist group’s October 7 massacre of hundreds of Israeli civilians.
Following the death of senior Hamas commander Saleh Al-Arouri in the heart of a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut from an apparent air strike, reports indicate that Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Hezbollah terrorist group, may choose not to significantly escalate its conflict with Israel in response, but tensions in the region still remain high.
On Wednesday, Chris Mitchell, Middle East bureau chief for CBN News, joined “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” from Jerusalem to give an update on how the latest developments are affecting Israel’s war against Hamas.
“After the October 7 massacre, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Hamas top leaders were ‘dead men walking,’” he explained. “So this attack — presumably by Israel, but they’re not taking responsibility — is the beginning of that kind of process. … [The attack] does raise the stakes here. For weeks now, many people have been saying that what you have to look at is not only just the war in Gaza with Hamas, but also [with] Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a much stronger military force, one of the top armies in the Middle East. [T]hey have maybe 150,000 rockets, many of them precision guided. So if there’s an escalation in the north, partly because of this assassination, that could really raise the stakes dramatically here in the Middle East.”
As to the resolve of the Israeli people and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to pursue a definitive defeat of Hamas in response to the October 7 massacre, Mitchell indicated that they are in it for the long haul.
“[S]o far, I think the IDF is going methodically and cautiously throughout Gaza,” he emphasized. “Tony, I’m amazed to see the video coming out of Gaza day by day. The network of tunnels, the amount of weapons, not only in schools and mosques and in the kindergartens, but almost in any building that you can find there. I think there’s a resolute feeling here in Israel that it will take months — that’s what Israeli Defense Minister [Yoav] Galant said. I think there’s a resoluteness that they will do what they can … however long it takes.”
Mitchell went on to observe that despite public pressure from the Biden administration to dial back its war in Gaza and despite repeated targeting and condemnations by the United Nations, Israel appears undeterred.
“I think the Israeli leadership [has] decided to go finish the course,” he pointed out. “You know, I was watching earlier a documentary on [former Israeli Prime Minister] Menachem Begin, and the Begin Doctrine says that they won’t allow any neighbor to have weapons of mass destruction to be able to eliminate the Jewish state. And that would include … the ring of fire that Iran has put around Israel right now — Gaza, Hezbollah, the militias in Iraq and Syria, as well as the Houthis down in Yemen. I think Israel [has] decided to go ahead and go the route, even against pressure by the United States or the international community.”
Meanwhile, the surge of anti-Semitic attacks that have proliferated across the globe since October 7 appear to be continuing. On Wednesday morning, a Jewish-owned grocery store in Toronto was firebombed and vandalized with “Free Palestine” graffiti. “This is the tipping point,” said Toronto Police Service spokeswoman Pauline Gray. “This is not graffiti on a bus shelter. This is not lawful protest protected by constitutional right. This is a criminal act. It is violent, it is targeted, it is organized, and it will receive the weight of the Toronto Police Service to exactly what it deserves.” National Review reports that Toronto has witnessed a surge in anti-Semitic attacks since October 7, “with Jews representing the majority of hate-crime cases in the city despite being less than 10 percent of the population.”
In the U.S., anti-Semitic attacks have skyrocketed. In December, the Anti-Defamation League released data revealing that 2,031 anti-Semitic incidents occurred between October 7 and December 7, a 337% increase when compared to the same timeframe in 2022.
Still, Mitchell reported that many in Israel are encouraged by the support they have received from Christians in America. “I think that’s one of the stories of this war, Tony. I think the fact that evangelical Christians are coming out so strongly in support of Israel. … Franklin Graham was here recently. So was [former Arkansas] Governor [Mike] Huckabee [and] Joel Rosenberg. Many have come here to show support. And I think that really is a morale booster for Israelis and the Jewish people around the world.”
Mitchell concluded by sharing how Christians can specifically pray for Israel going forward. “Pray for wisdom for the leaders here in Israel, for the military leaders, political leaders, and for Israelis. Pray for comfort. You know, Isaiah chapter 40 says, ‘Comfort, comfort my people.’ This has been such a shock, a traumatic shock. You know, somebody has said [al]most all Israelis are suffering from PTSD. And so that Christian support is invaluable. … [Pray] for the peace of Jerusalem.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.