A Christian and former Israel Defense Forces paratrooper said he believes Hamas is not just a danger to Jews, but also to followers of Jesus.
“We think that this is not a war for only Jews against Hamas,” Shadi Khaloul said. “It’s the fight of light against darkness.”
Hamas launched a surprise invasion on Oct. 7, killing 1,400 Israelis, including civilians. Brutal details have come to light in the following days, showing massacres and beheadings of women and children, with Israeli officials describing signs of torture and abuse.
With the Jewish state preparing to send troops into Gaza as part of its resulting war against Hamas, more than 300,000 IDF reservists of all backgrounds had been called up as of Oct. 9, according to Israel’s chief military spokesperson Rear-Admiral Daniel Hagari.
HAMAS IS A DANGER TO MORE THAN THE JEWS, SAYS CHRISTIAN ISRAELI
“We, as Israelis, are fighting this fight together with Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze, Arameans like us,” Khaloul said. “We fight this together with Jews in order to defend the values of light of our actually common Judeo-Christian values that our democracies are built in.”
Khaloul, 47, is a part of the Christian Maronite Aramaic community that believes its members are descendants of Jesus’ early followers. Many pray in Aramaic — the language Jesus spoke — and do not identify as Arab.
Aramean was recognized as an official minority by the Israeli government in 2014, according to Haaretz.
Khaloul lives in Jish near the Lebanese border and serves as president of the Christian Aramean Society of Israel, an organization that encourages its youth to join the IDF.
If Hamas were to take over Israel, Khaloul said he believes his community would get the same treatment as Jews.
“It’s not a war between Jews and them,” Khaloul said, referring to Hamas. “It’s a war between them and other people that are different from Hamas.”
Moderate Muslims are also “a target to be attacked,” according to Khaloul, citing Hamas’ attacks on members of the Palestinian political party Fatah.
When Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2007 it threw a Fatah member off a 15-story apartment building, reported NBC. Amnesty International has documented cases of Fatah members being tortured and executed.
Khaloul said he believes Christians in Gaza are also suffering because of Hamas.
“No one of the Christians want to live under this jihadi Islamic regime that treats them as infidels, that treats them as … maybe fifth-class citizens,” Khaloul said.
He pointed out that the Christian population in Gaza has dramatically decreased under Hamas. It dropped from around 3,000 prior to 2007 to about 1,300, according to the University of Notre Dame.
“This is horrible. Because of Hamas, now the Gazan people are suffering,” Khaloul said. “It’s not because of Israel.”
Khaloul accused Hamas of taking foreign funding from foreign governments to create weapons to attack Israel instead of investing in its own people.
After the U.S. successfully convinced Qatar to send tens of millions a month to assist needy families in Gaza, Western intelligence found that the terrorist organization funneled some of the funding to its military operations, The Wall Street Journal reported. Hamas can also focus its own funds on terrorism since the U.S. and Europe, among others, provide support for schools, hospitals and other non-violent institutions, reported the Associated Press.
“Gaza could be today like the Hong Kong of the Middle East if they used this money, foreign money, to build institutions and factories,” Khaloul said. “Foreign companies would come there and invest with them and build a good source of employment for the people.”
“They did the opposite. They took this money to make themselves wealthy, to build weapons, tunnels and military equipment to fight and destroy Israel, only for hatred,” he added.