Robert Festenstein

I know someone who knows someone

Day 4.  It had to come, the stories of someone I know, knowing someone who was murdered by Hamas following their infiltration of Israel territory last Saturday, the 7th October 2023.

It started this afternoon as I was looking on Facebook.  People I know were posting with links to people they know who had been killed, or kidnapped.  I spoke with Michael, a friend of mine in Jerusalem.  He told me that he had been to a funeral on Sunday of a man in his 40’s who Michael had known his whole life.  Friday, all was well, Sunday the funerals started for those killed by Hamas terrorists.  The transition from relative peace to all out war has been very short and accompanied by horrific reports of brutality coming from the towns overrun near the Gaza border.

The number of Israeli dead has now topped 1,000.  The reports include accounts of soldiers finding babies in their cots having been murdered by Hamas.  Videos show women being kidnapped.  They also show women who have been murdered, their bodies paraded in the streets in Gaza.  This is the stuff of the Einsatzgruppen when they encountered Jews as the Nazis moved through Eastern Europe, only removed to towns and villages in Israel.

So what now?  What does Israel do now to prevent more deaths of our brothers and sisters? There can be no doubt that there is no possibility of returning to the uneasy peace that existed before last Friday.  The benefit of that though was that although rockets were regularly sent into civilian areas from Gaza, the losses were low and to an extent controllable.  Not so now.

Pushing the terrorists back over the border cannot be enough, either militarily, now we know the security fence cannot be relied upon, or emotionally, given the impact of so many innocent people murdered.

In an ideal world, the IDF would cross the border, find the Hamas bases and force the terrorists out of Gaza.  This is not a likely scenario, far from it.  Hamas have spent years in placing their command and control centres in the middle of schools, hospitals and housing estates.  Any attack on Hamas will inevitably involve a risk of civilian casualties, something which Hamas has deliberately designed.

I saw a short video of Jeremy Bowen of the BBC interviewing an officer at Kfar Aza, one of the border towns which was overrun by Hamas terrorists.  Mr Bowen was initially concerned about the victims but was quick to query the wisdom of an incursion into Gaza given the risk of civilian casualties.  It is as if Israel is the loser in some cruel game, where the opponent – Hamas – can come in, murder, rape and kidnap civilians, but Israel is not allowed to take any responsive action because of the risk to civilians in Gaza.

That was certainly the attitude of Mr Bowen who was cheerfully avoiding the reality of how Hamas control Gaza and further that any civilian losses would be in whole or part down to Hamas, as well as the numbers claimed.  Hamas have no compunction in lying about numbers killed or wounded.  Further, his lack of any input in relation to the use of human shields is sadly a reflection of the bias operated by the BBC.

Back then to the people I know who know people who have been murdered or kidnapped.  What is their likely response?  Probably similar to mine, which is the IDF should continue to warn civilians before attacks on Hamas bases by text and leaflets before engaging with the enemy, since the Gaza civilians are not that.  They are also victims at the hands of Hamas who control absolutely everything in Gaza.  I am sure that no-one volunteers to stand in the middle of a war zone.  Hamas by insisting that they remain in the building before it is attacked are committing a war crime. It is nothing more complicated than that.

The first rule of Government is to protect its people.  Israel has no choice but to seek out and destroy the evil that took over 1,000 lives and left almost 3,000 wounded, however hard it might be.  The victims deserve no less.

About the Author
Robert Festenstein is a solicitor based in Manchester with considerable experience in Court actions. He is active in fighting the increase in anti-Semitism in the UK and is President of the Zionist Central Council, an organisation devoted to promoting and defending the democratic State of Israel.
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