By Macy Petty, YWA Ambassador at Lee University
Less than three months ago, I taught young children in Bethlehem to play volleyball. Now those children are trying to survive the carnage of evil.
This past July, I was given the life-changing opportunity to spend 10 days in the territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority and explore the surrounding Holy Sites in Israel with a few of my college volleyball teammates. Friends and family expressed some concern, as it isn’t exactly known for its safety, but we went anyway with a firm goal of getting to know the people on both sides of the wall.
We met several locals for coffee; a few even invited us into their homes for a home-cooked meal. We ate like queens. They taught us their traditional dances and games and even tried to teach us a bit of their language.
Everything about the Palestine-Israel conflict suddenly became human. We heard their personal stories. We felt a small glimpse of the fear they live with every single day.
I left the trip with newfound friends, many of whom I came to know and love dearly—some on one side of the wall, some on the other.
When I heard about the terrorist attacks on Israel this past Saturday, my heart immediately turned to them. I wept. I couldn’t stand thinking of a specific little boy and girl who lived in Israel. They were kind, served us coffee and homemade carrot cake, and showed us around the streets of Jerusalem. The blushing young boy was smitten to have four young 21-year-old Americans in his house. Now, for all I know, the Hamas terrorists could have done the worst things possible to them.
I was so angry I could not put it into words. As a Christian, an American, and a friend, I craved justice so deeply. But the stronger of a response I wanted, the more I knew it would put my Palestinian friends at risk.
I’ve never felt so torn in my life. Looking back, I was utterly misguided and placed the blame for the lives lost on the wrong people. In my lack of understanding, I placed justice for Israel at war against my love for innocent people on the other side of the wall. We met several kind-hearted Christian missionaries who lived in Palestinian territory – obviously, they do not deserve to die for the actions of Hamas. Then, it all became clear to me.
If my friends die at the expense of this war, which I pray to God they do not, their blood is on the hands of Hamas. Hamas did not fight a war against soldiers but applied the worst evil since the Holocaust against women, children, and babies.
Hamas asked for their destruction by removing any sense of humanity in their actions. Israel is absolutely justified in taking a strong stance in defending her people. Of course, they should avoid as many civilian casualties as possible, but unfortunately, that is a part of war, particularly when the enemy uses these innocent children as shields. And that is exactly what this is: war. A war the Hamas terrorists ushered in as they brutally attacked the innocent people in Israel.
The Hamas terrorists are not for the people of Palestine. If they were, they would not have placed them so directly in harm’s way or discouraged their evacuation to safety. They are simply anti-Jew and anti-Israel.
As I noted, my summer experience aided my perspective on the humanity of these casualties. Every injustice fuels my hatred for the violence of Hamas. They are at fault for every single human life lost in this war. The cry for justice for the civilian lives of those living in Palestine is not at odds with the justice of Israel. The real war is between all human life and the reckless, destructive, inhumane acts of the Hamas terrorists.