Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew on ancient scriptural references on Sunday, evoking the biblical nation of 'Amalek' to explain Israel's position in the ongoing conflict with Hamas, which has resulted in significant civilian casualties.
Amid the escalating conflict, Netanyahu turned to ancient scripture to elucidate Israel's stance. He quoted from First Samuel 15:3, saying, "You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible. 'Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them.
Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys'" The invocation of this biblical passage serves not only as a historical reference but also as a genocidal lens through which the Prime Minister views the current conflict.
Netanyahu openly calling for genocide:
"You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible."
"Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep,… pic.twitter.com/S8AjtDvILd — Clash Report (@clashreport) October 29, 2023
The Context of the Conflict
The strife between Israel and Hamas has escalated drastically, with the war claiming more than 1,400 Israeli lives and nearly 8,000 in Gaza.
As tensions rise, the Israeli army has moved into the second phase of its campaign against Hamas. Ground forces have been deployed in Gaza, complemented by intensified assaults from the land, sea, and air, as confirmed by Netanyahu.
"There are moments in which a nation faces two possibilities: to do or die," the Israeli Prime Minister remarked. “We now face that test, and I have no doubt how it will end: We will be the victors. We will do and we will be the victors”.
The Gaza Health Ministry provided updated figures on Saturday, noting that Palestinian deaths in Gaza have surpassed 7,700 since the war's inception, with 377 of those reported just the previous day.
Unpacking the Amalek Reference
For those unfamiliar with the biblical narrative, the term 'Amalek' might be a mystery.
But what is Amalek, and why has it been cited in the context of this modern conflict? The Hebrew Bible paints a picture of the Amalekite nation as a fervent adversary of the Israelites. The name "Amalek" can denote Esau's grandson who established the nation, his descendants - known as the Amalekites, or the territories they once occupied.
The historical enmity can be traced back to the book of Exodus, which recounts the Amalekites attacking the tribe of Israel as they made their exodus from Egypt. Even though the Israelites triumphed over the Amalekites, God cursed the descendants of Amalek.
Netanyahu's invocation of 'Amalek' is symbolic, drawing parallels between ancient foes and present-day adversaries. His reference to First Samuel 15:3, which calls for the complete annihilation of the Amalekites, underscores the depth of enmity and the historical weight of the ongoing conflict.