Bullet holes and toppled furniture bear witness to what happened in the home of one young couple living in Israel close to the border with Gaza on Oct. 7. Their home still partially stands, but they—and about 100 other members of their small community—are dead. 

Walking through the streets of the small village, Joel Griffith says, “You could tell it once was a very beautiful place.” 

Griffith, who is Jewish and serves as a research fellow in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, recently returned from a trip to Israel. His mission was both to “support, but also bear witness to the evil” that took place in Israel on Oct. 7 when Hamas carried out a brutal terrorist attack that killed about 1,200 people. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

Walking out of the home of the slain couple, Griffith says, he saw two “Jewish men playing guitar and singing, and gathered around them were others—soldiers, non-soldiers, Israelis, non-Israelis (such as myself), people who were religious, people who visibly weren’t religious, but all gathered together singing.” 

One of the songs they sang, according to Griffith, was “Am Yisrael Chai,” which translates to “The people of Israel live.” 

Standing there singing in a “place where so many lives were lost” and with “gunfire” and the sounds of “artillery” in the background, “was a powerful moment,” he says. 

Homes in Israel near the border of Gaza still lie in ruins following Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7. (Photo: Courtesy of Joel Griffith)

The contrast of peace and war was highlighted again to Griffith when he entered a school where a young child was celebrating her birthday. After the children sang “Happy Birthday,” they broke into the same song as the group outside the home of the slain couple, singing “the people of Israel live.”

Griffith joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss what he saw and heard in Israel three months after the Hamas terrorist attack. 

Listen to the podcast below: 

Correction: The police officer Griffith discusses in the audio of the above podcast did not have his children with him when he went to synagogue on Oct. 7. He heard the siren as he was preparing to go to synagogue, and because the alarm was longer than usual, he left his children at home after escorting his family to their bomb shelter.

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