By Julie Stahl
Today, January 27, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year, that day marks the 78th anniversary of the 1945 Liberation of Auschwitz. But on October 7, 2023—what many are calling the deadliest day since the Holocaust—Israel experienced the unthinkable.
Thousands of Hamas terrorists broke through Israel’s defenses by air, land, and sea in multiple locations along its southern border with Gaza. In several communities the killing and devastation were so complete, Israeli archaeologists were called in to employ equipment and techniques—methods normally used for antiquities—to sift through the ashes to find human remains.
The hatred motivating all this was clear. Senior Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad claimed that his organization’s actions were totally justified.
“We must remove that country because it constitutes a security, military, and political catastrophe to the Muslim and Islamic nation and must be finished,” said Hamad in an interview. He asserted that they would replicate the attack again and again until Israel was wiped out.
About three weeks after the October 7 attacks, Palestinian activist and terror supporter Ahed Tamimi called for the murder of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria.
“We are waiting for you in all the West Bank cities from Hebron to Jenin—we will slaughter you and you will say that what Hitler did to you was a joke,” she threatened in an Instagram post. “We will drink your blood and eat your skull.”
The massive, multi-pronged attack sent Israel reeling and plunged the Jewish state into a war against the Iranian proxy in Gaza. Another Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, joined almost immediately—launching rockets at northern Israel and forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of Israelis from the north.
At first the world was shocked by the Hamas massacre, but shortly thereafter a wave of pro-Hamas sentiments and anti-Semitism swept the world.
However, in the midst of all the horrors, Israelis rose up immediately to fight Hamas and provide for the tens of thousands made homeless due to the war.
There were many heroic stories from that day, like that of Yedidia Harush, who was part of the 11- man security team from the community of Shlomit, less than five miles from Gaza. The neighboring community of Pri Gan called for their help when Hamas attacked.
“We got a phone call for our security team from a family from Pri Gan … and he said that outside his house, there were 12 terrorists,” Harush told CBN News.
“Immediately, the security team got into the cars and drove to Pri Gan,” he said.
“For two hours, there was a heroic battle of the first-response team with the 12 terrorists. They had special tool kits to open bomb shelters. They wanted to open the shelters and basically massacre the entire community, and then go to the next community and the next community,” Harush explained.
As the Israeli security team got the upper hand, the terrorists ran away. Sadly, while Pri Gan suffered no losses and the surrounding communities were saved, four of their rescuers were killed in the fight.
Many others also banded together immediately to help. Restaurant owners prepared thousands of hot meals at their own expense and sent them to reservists as they were called up to go into Gaza.
Jewish and Christian groups—including CBN Israel—joined together to provide food, water, shelter, trauma counseling, and other essentials for terror victims and war zone evacuees.
And of course, millions and millions of Christians around the world prayed and gave generously.
Police commander Roy Valdman, who oversees 850 officers in an area that was attacked by Hamas, believes that despite the shock of October 7, Israel will overcome.
“Israel is strong—the army, the police—we’re strong, we’ll prevail, we will win. … We can defend our people because there’s nowhere to go,” Valdman said.
He warned the West that the battle against Hamas is the battle against terrorism—that fighting ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hezbollah isn’t just Israel’s problem.
“No one wants to live next to an enemy like that. It’s a terror organization—it can hurt you in a heartbeat, and not just hurt you; it wants to butcher you and kill you,” Valdman said.
Nevertheless, he is convinced that Israel will rise up as it did after the Holocaust.
“For us, no other time since the Holocaust, after 6 million of our Jewish family were murdered, did we say never again. So, for us, it’s never again.”
Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel full-time for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN—first as a graduate student in Journalism at Regent University; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. She is also an integral part of CBN News’ award-winning show, Jerusalem Dateline, a weekly news program providing a biblical and prophetic perspective to what is happening in Israel and the Middle East.