Ever since the evil terrorist attack by Hamas in southern Israel on October 7th, in which 1,400 Israelis were brutally tortured and murdered and 230 were taken hostage, there has been much soul-searching in terms of how this could have happened and how we can ever recover from it.
Let me say first and foremost that the lapse in intelligence and security that enabled Hamas’s surprise attack is completely inexplicable and unforgivable, period.
As always, Israel is facing long odds, attacked not only by Hamas in the south, Hezbollah in the north, and terrorists in the West Bank but also potentially by the combined arms of hostile Arab nations such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and, of course, the arch-terrorist Iran, which is seeking nuclear weapons and threatening to destroy Israel. Despite all of this, and while we are still only at the beginning of this latest battle with evil, it is clear that once Israel overcame the initial shock and horror of the Hamas attack, the response from Israel has been nothing short of brilliantly planned and flawlessly executed.
Calling up the Reserves
Israel is a people’s army made up of 170,000 active-duty personnel and almost half a million reserve troops. Once Israel saw the scale and horrors of the Hamas attack, with over 2,500 terrorists infiltrating by land, air, and sea, Israel immediately called up over 300,000 reserves and mobilized their troops and armor to the front lines. The young men and women give generously between 28 and 36 months of service, defending their people and country, and on top of that, reservists selflessly drop everything (family, education, jobs, travel, etc.), don their uniforms and equipment, and move bravely into action to overcome the enemy who rises up and seeks to destroy them.
Forming a War Cabinet
Before the Hamas invasion, Israelis were bitterly divided over judicial reform and, unfortunately, were distracted. However, once Hamas attacked, Israelis across the spectrum unified, and an emergency government was formed together with the opposition. A war cabinet was established with experienced generals to secure the borders, conduct the war with Hamas, and work to rescue the over 220 hostages taken. At the end of the day, our enemy does not differentiate between left- and right-wing Jews to rape, terrorize, abduct, and kill, and the wailing sirens across Israel of impending rockets and terrorists were the wake-up call for Jews to unify once again and put the day-to-day politics aside. Finally, war was officially declared against Hamas.
After decades of unwanted wars, terrorism, intifada, and Jihad prosecuted by our enemies, Israel has prudently invested in its military and intelligence capabilities, innovation, advanced technologies (including missile defense), planning for future hostilities, and training for the Israel Defense Forces.
In 2006, when Hezbollah attacked across the Lebanese border, killing Israelis and abducting others, Israel rushed headlong into a mobilization and cross-border attack to try to get back the hostages and punish the terrorists. The war lasted a month and was considered a resounding failure in that Israel’s north took a pounding, Hezbollah was left standing, the hostages were returned dead, and the dangerous situation on the border continues to this day.
However, this time, Israel did not rush to counterattack but instead showed restraint and that it is relentlessly planning to secure the border, save the hostages, destroy Hamas, and safeguard the lives of the Israeli soldiers from the dangers they face (whether from booby traps, snipers, attack tunnels, and more). Additionally, Israel took the time to not only mobilize but to engage the troops so they understood the plan, had the necessary protective gear, refreshed their training, and ensured they understood the goals and the mission.
Simultaneously, Israel has consulted with world leaders, especially the United States, to ensure their support, beefed up its military readiness in the north and even traded fire with Hezbollah, conducted preemptive raids in the West Bank to tamp down on terrorists there, and, together with the U.S., sent warnings to Iran and its terrorist proxies not to try to take advantage of the situation or escalate the fighting.
Israel has methodically been executing in phases against Hamas.
- First, Israel prosecuted the killing or capturing of the terrorists who invaded on October 7.
- Secondly, Israel reestablished control of the Israeli communities along the Gaza border, as well as documented for all the world the horrors that Hamas perpetrated against men, women, children, and the elderly to explain why Israel must eradicate Hamas.
- Third, Israel engaged their vast intelligence capabilities to understand who the Hamas leaders were behind the attack, what role Iran played in facilitating the terror, locate where hostages were likely being held, and prepare the targeting for Israel’s reprisals and rescue operations.
- Fourth, Israel imposed a siege on Gaza and turned off the spigot on the flow of food, water, fuel, and communications to the terrorist enclave to dry up their supplies for sustaining their terrorist fighters, impede their ability to effectively conduct warfare, and dry up their ability to fuel more barrages of rockets into Israel, as well as to continue to supply ventilation to their terror tunnels.
- Fifth, Israel cooperated with international partners on humanitarian relief and issued evacuation instructions to North Gaza residents to flee south past the Wadi Gaza River to safeguard civilians. Additionally, where possible, Israel has used precision targeting of Hamas leadership and the terrorist infrastructure, even though the terrorists routinely hide behind human shields, including under schools, mosques, hospitals, marketplaces, and more. And finally, Israel has allowed humanitarian supplies into Rafah in the south while working to prevent it from resupplying the Hamas terrorists.
- Sixth, Israel has conducted a relentless bombing campaign by its air force, drones, and artillery to attack Hamas terrorists, command and communication centers, supply depots, and training facilities. Additionally, by leveling large parts of the battlefield in front of them, Israel is not only destroying the Hamas war machine but also collapsing the buildings over the attack tunnels hidden entrances and exits, destroying well-laid booby traps, removing sniper positions, and reading the terrain for Israel to enter Gaza to destroy Hamas while at the same time safeguarding the lives of the Israeli soldiers.
- Seventh, before conducting more extensive ground operations, Israel has wisely taken the time to first conduct limited forays into Gaza. Undoubtedly, this has provided valuable reconnaissance, tested Hamas force readiness, further prepared Israeli troops and armor to root out the enemy, and please G-d, to locate and let’s pray to rescue the hostages. Additionally, rather than attacking with ground forces broadly across Gaza, the IDF is focused, prudently dealing with one piece of Gaza at a time.
Conducting a War of Communications
Given all the false narratives of the Palestinian terrorists, Hamas sympathizers, neo-Nazis, and the morally bankrupt United Nations who want to paint a fairytale picture of colonialism, occupation, and Apartheid (and that Israel bombed a hospital in Gaza, which it did not), Israel and its supporters around the world have done an overall good job getting out the message of the latest atrocities committed by Hamas and why Israel must respond forcefully to prevent this from ever happening again.
The facts stand for Israel’s historical connection to the land, G-d’s biblical promise of it to them, and the Palestinians’ failed leadership’s repeated rejection of generous offers for peace and a two-state solution (e.g., at Oslo, Camp David, Taba, etc.). Instead, they have opted for multiple and collective wars against Israel, endless terrorism, intifada, and Jihad, and even the delegitimization of Israel’s right to exist. Further, the terrorists and their supporters have become experts at playing the “victim card,” despite there being 55 majority-Muslim nations in the world and just one tiny state of Israel, which they want to destroy and throw the Jews into the sea.
Pray to Hashem for deliverance.
Without a doubt, this will be a long and difficult war, and it is far from won. There are so many families grieving for those who have been lost, and hopefully, there will be no more. Moreover, the hostages are suffering and must be brought quickly home. No matter how precise our planning and how good our execution are, ultimately, we must pray to Hashem to help us overcome our enemies and suffering, grant us a complete victory, and speedily bring us peace.
After synagogue today, I was speaking with one of my neighbors about how Israel is in very tough circumstances and is fighting for its life and soul. He aptly responded to me:
When it comes to the IDF and Hashem, who is helping them, I don’t have any doubt about what we can achieve.