Israelis, Palestinians in never-ending battle
Ava Thomas, Baptist Press
March 30, 2011

Israelis, Palestinians in never-ending battle

Israelis, Palestinians in never-ending battle
Ava Thomas, Baptist Press
March 30, 2011

JERUSALEM — It’s blood and grief, random rockets and sudden

explosions. It’s sudden tragedy for people like Mary Jane Gardner of Wycliffe

Bible Translators, killed by a bus bomb in Jerusalem on March 23. And for

Israelis and Palestinians, it’s never over.

“Each strike by Palestinians against Israelis and each

strike by Israelis against Palestinians are in retaliation for a previous

attack,” said Stephen Johnson*, a Christian worker among Palestinians. “‘An eye

for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ is never ending.”

It’s been years of territorial back and forth for the two

groups, ending most recently in 2009 after a war that saw 1,300 Palestinians

and 13 Israelis die. Since then, relative calm had pervaded, and Israel had

seemed like the eye of the political storm sweeping the region.

But that all changed in the past few weeks.

More than 80 rockets and mortar shells have been launched

from the Palestinian territory of Gaza into southern Israel, and the bus bomb

that killed Gardner injured more than 30 others. Retaliatory attacks by Israel

have killed 10 Palestinians, with Israeli officials voicing regret over the

deaths of two teens playing football outside their house.

International media have questioned why the unofficial

ceasefire broke recently, and some commentaries suggest the attacks perhaps

were used to detract attention from protests staged in Palestine. In March,

thousands of Palestinians have followed suit with the rest of the region,

calling for Gaza’s power-holding party Hamas and its rival Fatah to come


Plenty of other theories exist as to why tumult has erupted


“It’s an ongoing story,” said Bruce Mills of Jerusalem

Baptist Church. “There’s conflict in many layers and levels.”

In Mills’ church — an English-speaking international body —

Messianic Jews and Palestinian believers in Christ sit side by side every


A Palestinian driver navigates through a Bedoin area on the road to Bethlehem, which has been of the flashpoints in Jewish-Palestinian tensions over the years.

“They worship in spirit and truth, as brothers and sisters

with no territorial claims,” Mills said.

It’s because they both have the same peace — peace that the

rest of their countrymen need, said Ben Martin*, a Christian worker among


“Both are groups that need Jesus. We are not dealing with

saved people — that’s why we are here,” Martin said. “Both sides of the

conflict need the knowledge that we know will bring peace.”

The Messianic Jews he knows “cry out for the salvation of

the Palestinians,” Martin said.

And Palestinian believers want to reach out to Jews too, so

that they can come to know salvation in Christ.

“I have a heart to work with Jewish people, to minister with

Jewish people, to make a bridge between Palestinian and Jewish people, to see

them come to Christ together,” said Esa*, a Palestinian believer in Jesus.

Palestinians “are caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle

of violence,” Johnson said, noting that believers among them are just as

affected by the tensions as other Palestinians.

Amid the turmoil embroiling the Mideast and North Africa,

Arab and Muslim peoples are questioning long-held assumptions, Johnson said. “The

result could be a time of more openess and individual freedoms, but it is too

early to tell,” he said.

He asked that Christians would pray:

  • That as people weigh their questions, they would

    understand that Jesus is the answer.

  • That people who are already believers will be bold in

    sharing that they know the Truth and He has sent them free.

*Names changed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Thomas is an International Mission

Board writer/editor based in Europe.)

Related story

Palestinian Christian reaches out to Jews

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical

Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new

Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank

you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or

issues with items we run, please contact [email protected]

or call 919-847-2127.)