Normally when a ceasefire is announced the standard response is one of relief that the fighting has stopped and the hope is that it will not resume. This ceasefire though, brought about as part of deal to exchange innocent people abducted by the terror group Hamas with prisoners from Israeli jails is different.
There are many who recognize that the ceasefire cannot continue past the 4 days or so it is scheduled to last. Having come this far, it would be militarily disastrous for the IDF to leave Gaza with the job of destroying Hamas only half done. Aside from the war crimes they committed on the 7th October, Hamas have been an unbroken source of terror and Jew-hate for 16 years with absolutely no sign of stopping until every last Jew is killed or exiled from the land of Israel.
There is an emotional element as well. To give up now is to say to those murdered or kidnapped that the people responsible can get away with it. The message to the families of the 60 or so Israeli soldiers who have lost their lives in the recent fighting would be the same; that their loss had been incurred for nothing. Rooting out the evil that is Hamas was always going to result in painful losses and we are experiencing this now. After the 7th October the reaction was who knew people who were murdered or kidnapped. Now it is learning of fallen soldiers related to us or our friends.
Added to all of this is the impact the war is having on Jews around the world. Here in the UK the growing sense of isolation is palpable. Often the discussion at the meal table turns to non-Jewish friends who have given us their support and that has been reassuring. Knowing that we are not the only ones who can see the war for what it represents gives us all significant comfort. The conversation though too often turns to those who don’t support us. People we thought understood us reveal themselves to be the opposite, claiming the response from the IDF is not proportionate and that ‘both sides’ need to sort it out. ‘How many friends have you lost?’ is an all-too-common question with the answers involving stories of previous relationships being set aside.
Include the increase in antisemitic incidents of over 100% and you might think that we in the UK would want to see an end to the fighting sooner rather than later. Not so. The hideous events of 7 October demonstrated what many of us already knew, that for Hamas there is no two-state solution and absolutely no prospect of peace for as long as they are in power. The message to Israel has to be that this is a vital long game and as far as defeating Hamas is concerned, don’t stop.