It is just like the Purim story in the Scroll of Esther. I will explain.
In the summer of 2014, Israel suddenly started receiving a stream of rockets against its civilians. The government did nothing. We did not know that it was insuring international backing for a military action against the perpetrators if necessary. Finally we started bombing rocket launchers and the luxurious houses of leading Hamas terrorists. Khaled Abu Toameh reports the next morning in the Jerusalem Post that the Israeli response took Hamas by surprise. They were shooting rockets to divert local dissatisfaction with poverty – and no doubt the dictatorship of Hamas. They did not seek any escalation for themselves. Wicked people often lose all perspective. There was no way that any state could tolerate and ignore a rain of rockets on its cities. But there was more.
Israel was relatively comfortable with the hundreds of airstrikes on Gaza, although they led to more rockets, not only on Be’er Sheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod, but even to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport, Haifa and Eilat. We had the Iron Dome. It was not a hundred percent protection, but miraculously, still no one in the cities died. (One Bedouin died, from a lack of shelter, one Thai greenhouse worker was killed during lunch break.) Civilian casualties in Gaza were largely prevented. However, to progress from there and begin a ground war? A cease-fire would be highly preferable – so everyone in Israel thought.
However, Hamas kept sending rockets. Their ‘preconditions for a suspension of hostilities’ were impossible to meet even half-way. We should set free all their convicted murderers, and end the blockade, which would make the Gaza Strip even more into a weapons storehouse than it is already. Still, the Israeli government bluffed that we would go in, was calling up reserves, but dragged its foot on actually starting a ground war, with its obvious toll in loss of innocent life on both sides. And then it happened.
Out of the blue, our patrolling soldiers were ambushed from a tunnel, no one knew that existed. The security cabinet decided to let the IDF enter Gaza. They were rewarded with a wonderful unity in Israel. We all enjoy this sudden precious lack of quibbling and the blanket support for our soldiers. And through the ground incursion, we found what we never could have found from the air. The Gaza Strip was tunneled under to a degree that was completely unknown at the Israeli side of the border. Dozens of tunnels reaching deep into Israel. Their beginnings were dug by Palestinian small children, appreciated by the terrorists for their small and supple bodies. One hundred and sixty died in the process, but they were quickly replaced by others, just like in ancient times when unprotected child-laborers were sent underground to dig mine shafts, and no one in charge cared if they died.
The finished Gaza tunnels were enormously sophisticated. Forget the earthen tunnels of old. These walls were from concrete. Some were so wide that cars could ride in them. One tunnels of 1.7 km long consisted of enough concrete to have built a three story hospital with it. They contained hundreds of stacked IDF uniforms. They held stockpiled weapons and foods, and tranquilizers, apparently to keep hostages calm. And then, exactly two months before the Jewish New Year, on the eve of first day of the Hebrew month of Av, the story broke.
Ambush plans revealed
Aryeh Savir, from Tazpit Press Service reported in Ynet and Maariv, that someone in the Shin Beth had revealed, that through the dozens of tunnels, on Rosh Hashanah, Hamas had planned to send hundreds of its terrorists, dressed in Israeli army uniforms, loaded with weaponry, to ambush Israeli kibbutzim, which normally have a sole fruitless guard at their gates. While slaughtering hundreds of citizens and kidnapping scores back into the tunnels during the beginning of the High Holidays, other terrorists in IDF uniforms would swarm out all over Israel, to stop first attempts to contain the bloodbath. Simultaneously, Hezbollah would have started a rocket barrage from the North, to add to the confusion and devastation. Hamas wanted the carnage of the surprise Yom Kippur War to pale before the result of their monstrous ploy. That was the secret plan.
Hamas did not want a confrontation now. They had a perfect massacre planned for in three months time. They worked on it for years. They had sacrificed all the needs of the population, just to hurt Jews. However, they could not stop themselves from shooting rockets. They could not help using one of the tunnels to surprise a few Israeli soldiers waiting at the border. They were so eager to kill and maim, that Israel discovered their plot in time. From out the air, we would never have learned any of this. We would have continued to allow concrete into the Strip for ‘building houses, schools and hospitals’ up to the Jewish New Year itself.
Meanwhile in Europe (France, Germany, the Netherlands), extremist Muslim demonstrators went to the street shouting, death to the Jews. Synagogues and Jewish leaders were physically attacked. For years, they claimed just to have been antagonistic to Israel. Finally their hatred for Jews was exposed for all to see. The national governments have promised to deal with the disgrace.
Comparisons are odious
Unfortunately, that is where the comparison stops. Different from the Purim story, entirely innocent people have been killed (the three yeshiva students, the Arab youth in Jerusalem, dozens of our finest IDF soldiers, three civilians in Israel, and scores of civilian Gazans, as human shields or by accident) and wounded. President Obama is not King Achashveirosh (Ahasuerus), and Bibi does not charm him like Esther charmed her king. Despite the story taking an incredible turn for the better for the Jews, all the wicked plotters have not been eliminated, and presently the story is far from over.
Notwithstanding these differences, we do see such an amazing turnaround in what at first seemed totally unfortunate for the Jews. Like in the Purim story, where G-d is absent, but so present through the phenomenal surprise rescue of the Jews, we may ask, what would be more plausible here again, than the hand of G-d behind these scenes?