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Jews and Christians Celebrated Purim and Palm Sunday as Israel Fights for Victory Over Hamas

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JERUSALEM, Israel – As Jews celebrated the holiday of Purim and Christians celebrated Palm Sunday, Israel and the U.S. continue to spar over whether or not Israel’s military will launch an operation into Rafah, the last stronghold in Gaza.

The faceoff puts the Biden administration and the Netanyahu government on a collision course.

Israel’s defense minister is heading to Washington, saying that he wants to make sure Israel continues to get arms and what it needs for its air defense systems.

He’ll also argue that in addition to Israel, the United States has a vital interest in seeing Hamas defeated.

Yet, Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday wouldn’t rule out consequences for Israel if it launches its military operation in Rafah to defeat Hamas. She posted on X, “We have been clear in multiple conversations and in many ways that any major military operation into Rafah would be a huge mistake.”

Those consequences could include placing conditions on future U.S. military aid to Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded for Israel when he met Friday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“I also said that we have no way to defeat Hamas without going into Rafah and eliminating the rest of the battalions there. And I told him that I hope we will do it with the support of the USA, but if we have to, we will do it alone,” Netanyahu stated.

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In Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces announced that after six days of fighting, they have captured or killed 170 Hamas terrorists who used the al-Shifa Hospital as a base.

“This operation is not over,” said IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari. “Right now, Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists are barricading themselves inside Shifa Hospital wards. Hamas is destroying Shifa Hospital.”

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In the north, the IDF hit strategic Hezbollah sites after the Iranian-backed terror group fired at least 50 rockets into Israel.

Israel claims the United Nations refugee agency known as UNRWA should be banned after solid evidence surfaced that dozens of its workers took part in the October 7th invasion and massacre.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave only what Israel considered a lukewarm admission that it happened, saying, “In UNRWA, there might have been infiltrations from Hamas.”

But Guterres insists the U.N. has investigated and has taken “measures.”

Sunday, Israelis in Jerusalem celebrated the biblical holiday of Purim, commemorating how Queen Esther defeated a Persian plot to exterminate the Jews.

It’s especially meaningful this year when Jews again feel they are fighting for their survival after October 7th.

During Jerusalem’s Purim parade on Monday, former Israeli President Reuben Rivlin told CBN News, “The whole world must understand that ‘never again’ should not happen again. And what is never? Never is the 7th of October.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu marked the holiday with IDF soldiers.

He told them, “As in ancient times, like our brothers, we are also united. We are fighting and will be victorious. We will enter Rafah and achieve total victory. We eliminated Haman (the ancient Persian plotter against the Jews) and we will also eliminate Sinwar (the top Hamas leader in Gaza). Happy holiday to you!”

At the same time in Jerusalem, Christians from around the world celebrated Palm Sunday, the day Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and was hailed by crowds as their Messiah.

Even in this time of war, Christians flocked to the Holy City, both to worship God and to support Israel.

Jennifer Weedon, a pilgrim from the U.S., noted, “I know there’s a lot going on here in the Holy Land. And I’m here to pray for the Jews. I’m here to pray for everyone. It’s my love of Jesus Christ, why I’m here.”

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About The Author


About The Author


As a freelance reporter for CBN's Jerusalem bureau and during 27 years as senior correspondent in CBN's Washington bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, government, and God’s providential involvement in our world. Strand began his tenure at CBN News in 1985 as an evening assignment editor in Washington, D.C. After a year, he worked with CBN Radio News for three years, returning to the television newsroom to accept a position as a senior editor in 1990. Strand moved back to the nation's capital in 1995 and then to