‘This is a time for war’: Netanyahu quotes Bible to justify Israeli onslaught in Gaza

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said Israel would not agree to a cease-fire in Gaza, where it has continued heavy bombardment for three weeks, and quoted Bible that “this is a time for war.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Bible says that ‘there is a time for peace and a time for war.’ This is a time for war. A war for our common future,” Netanyahu said in English at a press briefing organized for foreign media.

He said Israel would not agree to “cessation of hostilities with Hamas after the horrific attack” of Oct. 7, just as the US did not do so after the bombing of Pearl Harbor or after the attacks of 9/11.

Earlier, he had invoked the theory of Amalekites, a tribe mentioned in the Torah, to justify his actions in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

The Israeli army widened its air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip, which has been under relentless airstrikes since the surprise offensive by Hamas.

About the Amalekites:

Scripture records the long-lasting feud between the Amalekites and the Israelites and God’s direction to wipe the Amalekites off the face of the earth (Exodus 17:8–131 Samuel 15:2Deuteronomy 25:17). Why God would call His people to exterminate an entire tribe is a difficult question, but a look at history may give some insight.

Like many desert tribes, the Amalekites were nomadic. Numbers 13:29 places them as native to the Negev, the desert between Egypt and Canaan. The Babylonians called them the Sute, Egyptians the Sittiu, and the Amarna tablets refer to them as the Khabbati, or “plunderers.”

The Amalekites later joined with the Canaanites and attacked the Israelites at Hormah (Numbers 14:45). In Judges they banded with the Moabites (Judges 3:13) and the Midianites (Judges 6:3) to wage war on the Israelites. They were responsible for the repeated destruction of the Israelites’ land and food supply.

In 1 Samuel 15:2–3, God tells King Saul, “I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them, put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

Over 9,800 people have been killed in the conflict, including 8,306 Palestinians and 1,538 Israelis.​​​​​​