In the months before October 7, Israel was severely wracked by huge protests against changes in the judicial system. Disunity among Israelis was so rampant that a large contingent of Israelis were defiantly opposed to the government to the extent that, for example, many Air Force reserve fighter pilots refused to attend their mandatory training sessions, declaring that they wouldn’t serve, “even if there is a war.”
That unfortunately led me to believe that the only thing that would reunite our divided country was a war. That’s exactly what happened. It turns out that the Hamas terror force that rules Gaza actually gave Israel ample warning of what it planned to do. It was ignored, and worse, the higher ups ridiculed those who warned them. Government and political leaders were totally shocked by the “unexpected” vicious surprise attack on October 7. 1,200 Israelis were murdered, more than 340 men, women, children, and soldiers were kidnapped, and thousands more were wounded.
But the Hamas leaders were also clueless. They greatly miscalculated the tenor of the Israeli people and went way overboard in their strategy to utilize horrendous, criminal acts against Israelis, including mass murder and rape. Hamas thought that it could overrun southern Israel and perhaps even take control of those areas for themselves.
Thank God this strategy failed to fulfill the grandiose expectations of Hamas. The pilots showed up, the soldiers on leave showed up, the veterans showed up, the public showed up, and despite the delay of nearly half a day, Israel erupted with a mass, united, overpowering will to destroy the terrorists who raped, murdered, tortured, burned, defiled, and destroyed everyone and everything that they initially got their hands on.
Of the 1,200 Israelis (Jewish/Arab /Druze) who were murdered, hundreds were young people enjoying an all-night open air concert near the Gaza border. But also, soldiers who were mostly asleep were victims, military installations and police stations were overrun, and kibbutzes were ransacked. On October 7 itself there were many heroic acts by off duty, reserve, and retired soldiers who raced to the killing zone to save friends, relatives, and anyone else they could find. Among the heroes were a number of Beduin van drivers and family members who made numerous trips into the killing zone to save victims, Arab and Jewish.
Since the massacre – the worst since the Holocaust – Israelis are volunteering in myriad ways to support our fellow citizens who are in dire straits. “The volunteers continued to represent various streams of Israeli society, with 49% of the secular Jewish public volunteering, 41% of self-defined traditionalists, and 44% of ultra-Orthodox. About 28% of Arab Israeli citizens volunteered.” (https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/news/as-israel-hamas-conflict-drags-on-volunteerism-down-but-still-significant/ar-AA1l4qa6)
In the ensuing warfare in Gaza (which Israel had totally withdrawn from in 2005), thousands of Hamas and other terrorist fighters have been killed or captured by the IDF. Many non-combatants have been killed – men, women, and children – but that was preordained by Hamas embedding itself among the civilian populace. It used mosques, UN (UNRWA) facilities such as schools and hospitals, residential buildings, and other non-military places to store their rockets, munitions, and offensive weapons, as well as entrances to the very extensive tunnel system throughout Gaza. This Hamas tactic removed the protected status of “civilian” institutions, according to international law.
For example: Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994), lists among military objectives, “objects, normally dedicated to civilian purposes, but which are being used for military purposes, eg a school house or home which is being used temporarily as a battalion headquarters.” (https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/en/customary-ihl/v2/rule10)
This violation of the ‘Laws of War’ by Hamas caused the collateral deaths of people who erroneously thought they were protected and failed to heed the IDF’s suggestions to flee areas about to be destroyed. Ample warnings were given in advance of attacks, procedures far greater than any other army has ever used. There are no reliable sources as to the number of casualties, despite what is being disseminated by mass media. The mass media repeats numbers provided by Hamas daily, as if Hamas were a reliable source of information.
The answer to almost every accusation against Israel at this time should be, simply, BLAME HAMAS BECAUSE IT PROTECTS ITSELF BY USING MEN, WOMEN, AND ESPECIALLY CHILDREN AS HUMAN SHIELDS. Dead civilians happens to be the prime tactic of Hamas, which uses Palestinian Arab fatalities as the tip of the spear against Israel.
There are Gazans who were, and still are, innocents. But they are a minority. Here are excerpts from an MSN poll of November 14 regarding the October 7 massacre:
Palestinians living in the West Bank [Palestinian Authority/Judea and Samaria] overwhelmingly answered that they supported the attack to either an extreme or “somewhat” extent: 83.1%. Only 6.9% answered that they were “extremely” or “somewhat” against the attack, and 8.4% expressed that they had no opinion either way.
Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip show a little less consensus but the overall majority supported the attack. A mass of 63.6% said that they supported the attack “extremely” or to a “somewhat” extent. A further 14.4% answered that they did not oppose or support the attack.
Showing a greater rift than that of the West Bank, 20.9% of Palestinians living in Gaza opposed the attack to some degree. 31.7% of West Bank-based respondents and 24.9% of Gaza-based respondents claimed the reason for the attack was to “free Palestine.” A further 23.3% of West Bank-based respondents and 17.7% of Gaza-based respondents claimed that the reason for the attack was “breaking the siege on the Gaza Strip.” [Gaza is bordered by the Mediterranean, Israel and also by Egypt.]
An additional 35% of total respondents claimed that the attack was to “stop the violations of Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem” [the often fabricated accusation to foment attacks on Israel]. When asked “Do you support the solution of establishing one state or two states?” the majority (74.7%) of respondents answered that they support a single Palestinian state “from the river to the sea.”
As of now, two and a half months after the cowardly sneak attack, the hyper-resolute IDF is tasked to destroy Hamas infrastructure and kill or capture most of its fighters. The ultimate goal is to kill the Hamas leadership and to destroy its power. The northern part of Gaza is now mostly under IDF control and the southern part is in the midst of an Israeli takeover. It is there that the top Hamas leadership hides, probably with the remaining 137 Israeli captives. 442 IDF fighters have been killed since the start of the war on October 7.
Besides killing as many terrorists as possible, the military aims to liquidate the top Hamas leaders in Gaza: Yahya Sinwar, leader of the Hamas movement within the Gaza Strip, and Mohammed Deif, who leads the military arm of the Hamas movement. Israel has also promised to find and kill the Hamas leadership who lead luxurious lives far from Gaza, such as Khaled Meshaal, a founder of Hamas living in Qatar, Ismail Haniyeh, chairman of the Hamas political bureau, also living in Qatar, and others. This plan is reminiscent of Operation “Wrath of God,” the assignment to hunt down senior terrorists blamed for the Munich Olympics bloodbath which killed 11 Israeli athletes 50 years ago.
From their months-long period of disunity, Israelis are totally united against the Hamas scourge and intent on destroying its utility. While the West is fixated on Gazan deaths, practically ignoring the heinous crimes which ignited the war between Israel and Hamas, Israel is making swift but measured progress against a guerrilla army which nevertheless has many of the attributes of a formal army.
It is now the holiday of Hanukkah. At this time we celebrate the Maccabees’ military victory over the Greeks (164 BCE) and also the sanctification and re-dedication of our Holy Temple, which the Greeks had despoiled. In the pursuit of our war against Hamas and jihadist genocide many recognize the validity of the Biblical injunction: Not by might, not by power, but by the spirit of the Lord we will triumph. [Zechariah 4:6]
Israel hopes that by the end of January 2024 this battle will mostly be over. What the governing of Gaza will entail is a thorny problem that is yet to be decided. Right now, job #1 is destroying the leaders of Hamas hiding in tunnels, releasing the Israeli captives, and eliminating Hamas as a potent force against Israel and Jews in general.
Next, there is Hezbollah in Lebanon whose threat must be minimized. Behind all of this is Iran, a very large problem for all of the West. Western leaders must galvanize themselves and join with Israel in eliminating Iran’s jihadi leadership. One hopes Israel will not stand alone in this battle.