The eyes of the world are focused on the Gaza Strip at the moment for a variety of reasons. Is Israel going to launch a ground offensive on the northern part of the Strip, after having told the inhabitants there to move south if they want to avoid being killed? And if so, when? Will trucks bearing humanitarian aid continue to bring succour to the beleaguered population of the Strip? After all, why should innocent civilians suffer just because their rulers have committed acts of unspeakable cruelty against the civilians of another country? And will Hamas, the rulers of the area, release the two hundred and twenty Israeli hostages it has seized? Or will they at least allow the Red Cross to visit the hostages and provide them with basic humanitarian aid? Meanwhile, thousands of Israeli citizens living near the country’s northern and southern borders have been obliged to leave their homes in order to avoid being hurt or killed by rocket fire or marauding terrorists.
It doesn’t seem to strike anyone as odd or untoward that for years Hamas has been firing rockets into Israel that deliberately target towns and areas of civilian population. This may be because Israel has managed to equip its people with bomb shelters and safe rooms which have been able to prevent loss of life and limb even when the rockets succeed in getting through the Iron Dome defence system and damage property. And still students on campuses in the USA and elsewhere rally to protest the so-called genocide in so-called Palestine.
Which brings me to a major irony of history –accusing Jews of all people of genocide. While Jews are not the only group that has endured genocide, they were the object of the Nazis’ best efforts to achieve it. There is no genocide of Palestinians by Israel. However, in contrast to the Palestinians, an equivalent number of Jewish refugee from the Holocaust or the mass expulsions of Jews from Arab countries has not been kept in that status for decades. The tiny, nascent and UN-approved State of Israel took them in and did its best to provide them with homes and employment. It did this while at the same time fighting off the attacks by several Arab countries intent on preventing it from continuing to exist.
So Israel is still here, and has succeeded in fighting off attacks by its neighbouring Arab countries at various points in its existence (1967 and 1973 most notably). But on 7th October it failed to prevent the incursion by Hamas terrorists intent on killing as many Jews as possible. On that sunny Saturday morning they succeeded in murdering over one thousand Jewish men, women and children, most of them unarmed civilians just waking up in their homes. The stories that are coming out about their bestiality are so awful that the authorities in Israel have advised people to avoid looking at the video clips from the body-cameras that the terrorists proudly broadcast on social media. The foreign leaders and journalists who have seen those clips have been profoundly shocked. The Hamas terrorists are proud of having sown tragedy and destruction throughout an area that was once peaceful and prosperous. They have killed entire families, made dozens of children orphans, left parents bereft of children, raped women and girls, burned people alive, killed dozens of babies, tortured and beheaded people. They revel in having left the whole country heartbroken and racked with pain and grief.
Maybe by the time you read this the situation will have changed and Israel’s forces have launched their attack, with consequences that are hard to predict. All I can do is to hope that those in charge have learnt their lesson, and will never again allow the forces of evil to pose a threat to the civilian population.