In a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, “We Must Not Kill Gazan Children to Protect Israeli Children,” Nicholas Kristof criticizes Israel for considering the invasion of Gaza to remove Hamas. He writes that the bombing and expected ground invasion of Gaza “suggests that Palestinian children are lesser victims, devalued by their association with Hamas and its history of terrorism.”
But the reality is that it has been Israeli children that have been the lesser victims ever since Hamas was elected by Gazans to rule the strip in 2007, installing a terrorist organization less than a mile from Israeli communities on the Gaza border.
The faster that Hamas is defeated (yes, defeated) and its leadership removed from Gaza, the more likely we are to find a way to reach a peace agreement with our Palestinian neighbors and end the cycle of wars and civilian casualties. And if the world cannot make that happen, then Israel will have no choice but to take the steps to do so.
In September 2005, Israel fully pulled out of Gaza, leaving the Palestinian Authority in charge. Initially two border crossings, one to Israel and one to Egypt, were opened. In 2007, Hamas took over Gaza and used the money international donors gave to the Palestinian residents for food and shelter to build rockets and terror tunnels into Israeli territory.
Since then, several tens of thousands of rockets and missiles have been fired into Israel. Many of the rockets were built from materials transferred through the same crossings that were open to provide Gazans with food, water and fuel by Israelis and Egyptians. Despite the rocket attacks, Israel issued 17,000 work permits to Gazans to work in Israel last year.
For over a decade, multiple Israeli governments have tried to avoid large scale bombings and ground invasions in densely populated Gaza. Everything has been tried since Hamas started firing missiles: surgical strikes at senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders, limited military incursions and trading Hamas terrorists for Israeli hostages.
Israel has conducted multiple significant military operations to stop the rocket fire, all without starting a full ground war intended to remove Hamas. And, in 2011, there was a prisoner swap where Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released in exchange for over 1,000 Hamas terrorists.
Did this approach work? The answer came on October 7, 2023.
Hamas terrorists killed 260 young people dancing at a festival near the border. They went house to house, killing old people, killing parents and killing children. The ones they did not kill, they kidnapped, babies as young as six months and women as old as 86. It was about killing Jews for the sake of killing Jews. It was not a battle between “militants” and an army. It was a pogrom, no different than those in Russia in 1905 that killed my great uncle.
Moreover, several of the people released in the prisoner swap of 2011 with Hamas were part of the terrorist force that attacked Israel or helped plan the attack. The result was that more Jews were killed for being Jewish that day than at any time since the Holocaust.
And what would the United States have done had this taken place in the US? We already know the answer. The US response to the 9/11 attacks was the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Costs of War Project estimated that between 280,771 and 315,190 civilians have been killed as a result of war related violence from the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003 through March 2023. Like Israel, the US did not intentionally try to cause civilian deaths. But, inherent in fighting a terror state are civilian casualties.
Like many in the high-tech industry, I have been very publicly against the judicial reform presented by the Israeli government. Like many in the venture capital industry globally, I have been trying to further diversity in the Israeli high-tech community, particularly creating more opportunities for Palestinian Israelis.
Like many in the liberal community, I have been a vocal opponent of the current Israeli government, even writing an op-ed piece (Hebrew link) a few months ago in a leading Israeli publication calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. And like many who believe in peace, I too have advocated for a long time that we need a two-state solution to this conflict and worked with Palestinians for it.
But what happened two weeks ago on the Israeli-Gaza border was not about the policies of the Israeli government or the failures of Netanyahu. It was about a terror organization that calls for the killing of Jews, the destruction of Israel and no negotiations with Israel, building a terror quasi-state intent on committing genocide.
Two of the young people murdered at the “peace party” were 24-year-old Danielle Waldman and her spouse, Noam Shay. Danielle and Noam were buried side by side on a hill in northern Israel overlooking where they grew up. Danielle’s father, Eyal Waldman, who I have known for two decades, started a high-tech company, Mellanox, 20 years ago.
In his eulogy of Danielle and Noam, Eyal spoke about how he had always believed in peace with the Palestinians and how he opened design centers in Rawabi, Nablus, Hebron and, yes, even in Gaza. And then, over the open graves of the two people he loved, he committed that once the Hamas regime was eradicated, he would go back down to Gaza and help rebuild the Gazan economy so that no one else would have to suffer the horrible loss that he and his family were facing.
Every reasonable Israeli wants Gazans to live freely and in prosperity and every reasonable Israeli does not want to see anyone killed, let alone children, including Palestinian children. But, there will not be peace in this region without a firm stance by all Western democracies demanding, unequivocally and without qualification, the removal of the Hamas leadership from Gaza and of its leadership in the West Bank, the safe return of all the hostages, the complete demilitarization of Gaza, the installation of political leadership in Gaza committed to peace and above all, the isolation of the Iranian regime and the elimination of its ability to foment hatred in this region and fund international terrorism.